Zack Snyder Thought Long And Hard About Keeping Superman’s Underwear On The Outside

Depending on where your allegiances lie, either Zack Snyder's DCU reign of terror is finally over, or we're witnessing the end of a golden era of DC heroes on film. Whatever your feelings about it, new DC Studios heads James Gunn and Peter Safran are almost certainly moving on from the Snyderverse. The pair are expected to announce their vision for the DCU imminently, having scrapped plans for "Wonder Woman 3," bid farewell to Dwayne Johnson's Black Adam, and shown Henry Cavill and his Superman the door.

It's all been a long time coming. Many DC fans have been waiting years for their beloved heroes to be given a decent shot at competing with Marvel. And for quite some time, the Snyderverse has felt more like a curse, dragging DC's cinematic efforts into a perpetual state of mediocrity and keeping a full-scale reset of the company's movie universe firmly at bay. But believe it or not, there was a time when Snyder's vision for DC was fresh, new, and dare I say even exciting.

Back in 2013, David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan, who had basically invented the gritty reboot with "Batman Begins," leant their talents to a Superman relaunch, conceiving of a suitably gritty retelling of Supes' origin story and passing it over to Snyder to execute in the form of "Man Of Steel." The movie kicked off the Snyderverse with a deconstruction of Superman as a character, and proved controversial for showing the iconic hero decimating Metropolis in an effort to save it and killing the central villain, Zod (Michael Shannon) by the end of the movie. But perhaps the most controversial issue, at least according to Snyder, was the Man of Steel's underwear.

First Things First

Before any work started on "Man Of Steel," Snyder was apparently thinking about what he was going to do about Superman's famous red trunks. In a behind-the-scenes featurette, the director is heard saying, "If we're gonna make Superman, the first thing you gotta figure out is: What's the suit gonna look like?" Yes, that's the first thing Snyder was thinking about. Not the story or tone or how "Man of Steel" was going to set itself apart from other versions of the character. No, it was the fit. Which evidently simply had to appear sans underwear.

With story duties covered by Nolan and Goyer, Snyder was free to focus on the important stuff. As the director explained: "The reason why his underwear is on the outside of his pants, it's a leftover from Victorian-era strongmen. I probably looked at hundreds of versions with underwear. It fell by the boards because I couldn't make it consistent with the world we were creating."

Ultimately, Henry Cavill's Superman debuted sporting what is, to be fair, a unique and original spin on the classic Superman suit. Crafted by costume designers Jim Acheson and Michael Wilkinson, the "Man Of Steel" version reimagined the famous "S" chest emblem as a Kryptonian symbol representing hope. The designers also toned down the instantly recognizable blue and red color scheme, using darker hues and what Wilkinson described to Esquire as a "chainmail-like" pattern. The designer explained how the overall goal was to avoid "random, ornamental" features and focus on the character's mythology as a way to show "why the suit looks the way it does." Producer Charles Roven echoed that sentiment in the featurette, stating, "We had to create a world where that kind of outfit was commonplace, and make that feel natural."

Kryptonians Don't Wear Trunks

The underwear-over-tights look didn't factor into Snyder and his designer's approach, which makes sense considering the roots of that more traditional appearance. While Wilkinson and Acheson were looking to explore Superman's own mythology and Kryptonian culture with their costume, the trunks-on-top look had a firm base in reality. As comic book writer Grant Morrison explained in his book "Super Gods:"

"Underpants on tights were signifiers of extra-masculine strength and endurance in 1938. The cape, showman-like boots, belt, and skintight spandex were all derived from circus outfits and helped to emphasize the performative, even freak-show-esque, aspect of Superman's adventures. Lifting bridges, stopping trains with his bare hands, wrestling elephants: These were superstrongman feats that benefited from the carnival flair implied by skintight spandex."

According to Wilkinson, Acheson developed most of the new Superman suit, and had been responsible, along with Snyder, for "the red briefs getting smaller and smaller until one day they simply weren't there." Interestingly, when DC relaunched Superman as part of its "New 52" overhaul in 2011, he too appeared underpants-less, though it seems this wasn't a direct inspiration for Snyder.

Legendary comic book artist, and then-co-publisher at DC, Jim Lee told the NY Daily News: "The filmmakers and what we did in the comics were all on separate tracks, but obviously great minds think alike." Lee went on to explain how the guiding principle was about "reducing everything down to its core elements," which, as he notes, really leaves only the cape and "S" emblem. In that sense, though Snyder was taking a more in-depth approach, he ended up stumbling on the same philosophy as Lee and DC, which, despite a bizarre end to Cavill's tenure, remains one of the more positive parts of the Snyderverse's legacy.

Read this next: What These DC Villains Really Look Like Under The Makeup

The post Zack Snyder Thought Long And Hard About Keeping Superman's Underwear On The Outside appeared first on /Film.

Older Post Newer Post