6 Changes in Superman's Costume for "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice"

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"Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice" Superman Costume

"Man of Steel" and "Batman v Superman" costume. Warner Bros

Man of Steel features the biggest changes to the Superman costume ever seen on screen. The second Zack Snyder movie doesn't make quite as many changes.  To the casual eye it looks like the costume in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is the same. But a closer inspection shows subtle and drastic differences in color, shape and design of the costume. In the first Zack Snyder film they established that Superman’s costume is from Krypton. He goes into the Kryptonian drop ship (or Fortress of Solitude) and comes out with a costume that is similar to the clothes worn under the ornate armor of the Kryptonians.

In the sequel, it’s not clear how Superman could get a new costume, but subtle clues in the design changes may give us the answer. Costume designer Michael Wilkinson said, “To get ready to design the costumes for Batman v Superman, I really did my homework. I immersed myself in the long histories of these iconic characters. I studied how they have been portrayed over the last 75 years on film, on TV, in comic books, graphic novels and video games. I studied what they mean to people, what they stand for, why they are important. I started an exhaustive search for new materials and technologies — original ways of portraying these characters that would be unlike anything audiences have seen before. I wanted the costumes to help make the characters inspirational and relevant to modern audiences.

“We tweaked the Superman suit only slightly from our suit from Man of Steel. We streamlined ,plus sharpened the details of the costume a little to suit the more earthly (less alien) context of this film."

Read on to find out some of the big and little changes made to the Superman costume for Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.

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Superman's Costume is Brighter in "Batman v Superman"

Batman v Superman Costume Comparison: Colors
"Man of Steel" vs. "Batman V Superman" Comparison. Warner Bros Pictures

Superman's colors are as recognizable as Superman himself. Ask anyone what colors he wears and they'll say red and blue. It hasn't always been that way, however.

When George Reeves wore the costume for the television show Adventures of Superman it was actually white, grey, and brown because it looks better in black & white. The 1978 movie took the vibrant colors from the comics and made Superman a technicolor marvel. In the movie Superman Returns they left the colors but darkened the overall tone. The pastels were replaced with maroon, navy and mustard yellow. I’m not a fan of the darker tones, but in Man of Steel the colors were darkened even further than Superman Returns with less contrast. 

The Man of Steel Superman costume was designed by Jim Acheson and Michael Wilkinson and they had a huge job. Redesigning a superhero costume that's been virtually unchanged for over 50 years is a big task, but they did it. Wilkinson said, "James and I wanted to link the suit to the clothes of Krypton, so we showed that on Krypton, the citizens wear a protective "chainmail" skin suit like Superman's suit, with the same texture and detailing." The darker color scheme was described by Zack Snyder as “just a modern esthetic.” 

For Batman v Superman they’ve lightened the costume slightly. It’s hard to tell from the images because of lighting but there’s a change in tone of the costume. While the comic book costume is a bright red, yellow and blue the costume in the first movie had very little contrast. Now it looks like the costume is brighter and has more contrast.

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Superman's Boots Are a Different Shape and Color in "Batman v Superman"

Batman v Superman Costume Comparison: Boots
"Man of Steel" vs. "Batman V Superman" Comparison. Warner Bros Pictures

One of the more subtle changes to the Superman costume is the boots. The Man of Steel costume is red and has the familiar “V-Line” from the comics and looks like the same fabric of the rest of his costume. This is the most faithful part of the costume. 

The Batman v Superman costume has the same shape, but has yellow or gold lines to accentuate the boots. There’s also a second line below that creates an even stronger line than before. Also the soles of the shoes are thicker  and has a squared off toe. The Superman boots for Batman v Superman are heavier than before. 

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Superman's Legs Have More Subtle Details

"Man of Steel" Licensing Expo 2012 and "Batman v Superman" San Diego Comic Con. ComingSoon.net, ComicBook.com

Superman's costume has always given the impression of Spandex although it rarely is. The first Zack Snyder Superman movie gave it a distinct texture with designs that run across his torso and legs. The costume in the first movie had lines that ran down the side of each leg.

For Man of Steel the costume is made up of a bunch of different parts. "The Superman suit is made up of separate layers." Wilkinson said, "There’s an under-layer of sculpted detail mounted onto a bodysuit. Over the top of this we stretched a thin mesh over-suit that is printed with a dimensional chain-mail texture. Then, the final foam-latex elements are affixed – the ‘S’-glyph , the cuffs, the side-body details, etc." 

The Batman v Superman costume has them too, but they're sleeker and the same color as his costume to blend in with his legs. 

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Superman's Belt and Trunks Are a Different Shape

Batman v Superman Costume Comparison: Trunks
"Man of Steel" vs. "Batman V Superman" Trunks (Lightened to show details). Warner Bros Pictures

Superman has always worn a thick yellow belt around his waist and red briefs. Originally Superman creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel for DC Comics designed Superman's costume after circus strongmen who wore tights and briefs on the outside. At the time they were a common sight and made him recognizable as a strong man. These days we don't see a lot of circus strongmen so it felt dated. “The costume was a big deal for me, and we played around for a long time,” Snyder says. “I tried like crazy to keep the red briefs on him. Everyone else said, ‘You can’t have the briefs on him.’ I looked at probably 1,500 versions of the costumes with the briefs on.” The new Superman costume got rid of the belt and the briefs but kept accentuating lines around his waist and a centerpiece that looks like a round buckle. 

The Batman v Superman costume makes changes in the lines around his waist, but also changes the shape of the centerpiece from oval to square. It also has a small Superman symbol in the center, which is a nice touch. "There’s a little embroidery there that is a tip of the hat to the trunks,” says producer Chuck Roven. He added that the director and the costume designers came up with many different designs that preserved the trunks, but ultimately just couldn’t find a way to make them work with Snyder’s new vision of a revamped Superman."

The gold piece around the waist now has a series of ornate shapes that look like the Kryptonian script. Wilkinson said, “Zack had a great idea to have some Kryptonian script subliminally included in the details of the suit, so we made that happen.” Look for Kryptonian lettering on his waist.

It's strange that the designer says they're going for a less alien look to the costume but then adds alien symbols. 

Update: Recently Wilkinson did an interview where he confirmed there's Kryptonian script on the belt.

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Superman's Gauntlets Are Bigger

Publicity still from
Costume Comparision: Cuffs. Warner Bros Pictures

In the comic books Superman wears a top with sleeves that end at the wrist. This has been the standard going all the way back to the 1950s. In 2011 DC Comics did a revamp of the comic book costumes and changed Superman's traditional spandex uniform. Now it looks more like armor and has sleeves that end in a shape implying cuffs. The official site "Learn About Krypton" calls them "gauntlets".

Wilkinson said, "We wanted to create a costume that was both appealing to a modern audience, and grounded in the mythology of the story. It was important for us to explain why the suit looks like it does--so throughout the film, we showed how the suit fits into Krypton's traditions and aesthetics."

In Man of Steel Superman has cuffs on his sleeves. James and I wanted to link the suit to the clothes of Krypton, so we showed that on Krypton, the citizens wear a protective "chainmail" skinsuit like Superman's suit, with the same texture and detailing. All the Kryptonians have gauntlets and, along with the chain mail pattern, helps to link Superman's suit to Krypton. For Batman v Superman these have been changed slightly. They're now more evenly spaced and go further up his forearms. Instead of looking like cuffs they now look like a part of his sleeves and give his arms a more powerful look.

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Chest Emblem

Batman v Superman Costume Comparison: Shield
"Man of Steel" vs. "Batman V Superman" Comparison. Warner Bros Pictures

Superman’s chest emblem, or "S" shield, is the same shape and height as the last movie. One big difference is the shield is sectioned. Traditionally, Superman's chest symbol is flat and consists of a few red lines against a yellow background. In Superman Returns, the symbol was raised and had a texture of Superman symbols. In Man of Steel, the shield on his chest is very different in look and style but followed the simple color scheme. On the other hand, Jor-El wore a very complex family crest that "coincidentally" looked like a Superman symbol. By comparison, Superman’s actual emblem was fairly simple but it had the same texture as the rest of his costume. In Batman V Superman Superman’s chest symbol has lines through it and sections making it look more like the family crest.

Update: Recently Wilkinson dis an interview that confirmed Kryptonian writing on the chest emblem.

The other difference is the color. In the last film, the “S” shield is very dark and almost black at times. Wilkinson said, “there was a lot of experimentation with the colors of the suit and they read very differently under different lighting outdoors vs. indoors, fluorescent vs. incandescent, day vs. night etc. For some reason, the gold changed the most - perhaps because there was so much metallic pigment in the gold that it really reflected the colors and lighting around it.” It looks like they figured out how to pigment the metallic colors to keep its yellow hue even in the darkness of Gotham City.  

All the changes to the Superman costume make his suit much more Kryptonian, which implies that the suit is upgraded by the Fortress of Solitude. Will we have a scene where a robot Kyrptonian tailor redesigns the costume? Only time will tell will tell for sure.

Official Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Summary
Fearing the actions of a god-like super hero left unchecked, Gotham City’s own formidable, forceful vigilante takes on Metropolis’s most revered, modern-day savior, while the world wrestles with what sort of hero it really needs. And with Batman and Superman at war with one another, a new threat quickly arises, putting mankind in greater danger than it’s ever known before.
Directed by Zack Snyder
Cinematography by Larry Fong
Production Design by Patrick Tatopoulos
Starring Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter and Gal Gadot
Release Dates: March 25, 2016
Official Site: http://batmanvsupermandawnofjustice.com
© Copyright 2016 DC Entertainment, Atlas Entertainment, RatPac Entertainment, Cruel and Unusual Films, Warner Bros. Pictures. All rights reserved

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Mitchell, Maurice. "6 Changes in Superman's Costume for "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice"." ThoughtCo, Aug. 23, 2016, thoughtco.com/supermans-costume-for-batman-v-superman-3152421. Mitchell, Maurice. (2016, August 23). 6 Changes in Superman's Costume for "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice". Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/supermans-costume-for-batman-v-superman-3152421 Mitchell, Maurice. "6 Changes in Superman's Costume for "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice"." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/supermans-costume-for-batman-v-superman-3152421 (accessed May 24, 2018).