BLOGBUSTERS Supermans Missing Man-Nappy

We would have said “pants” but that gets our US readers confused. But what do the members of the SFX blogging team make of the new trunkless costume for Man Of Steel ?

BLOGBUSTER QUESTION: Pantless Superman – a travesty, a long-overdue update or a storm in a jockstrap?

Both on screen in Man Of Steel , and in the rebooted DC universe Superman is losing his red pants. Is this modernising gone mad, or a long overdue new image?

To be honest, I look at the furore this has inspired and am a little bit depressed – I’m more upset at what the DC reboot means for Barbara Gordon: DC has announced plans to make Barbara Gordon the new Batgirl, ditching the history that sees her paralysed in The Killing Joke and becoming Oracle, main-stream comics’ best known (and frankly just best) disabled character. That more people are getting their knickers in a twist about Superman's kecks than seeing DC retcon such an iconic and feminist character really is pants...
.

.

.

My first thought is that for a fully-clothed gentleman Henry Cavill looks strangely naked. Superman’s costume is so much part of pop culture that there’s a wrongness to the sight of Supes all, well, pantless. I love the colour and the textured look of his costume. I like that it really doesn’t look like tights or Spandex but very modern without being silly. No Bat-nipple recurrence here, thank you very much! I do have some sympathy with fans being a little upset about the update, but I don’t think I agree with them. Would we all have really, truly wanted to see the X-Men in yellow Spandex? Things that work in comic form often do not work in celluloid, and I am not the sort of fan who will refuse point blank to watch a film based on a directorial change which is little more than an attempt to make a comic strip seem real. Live action comic book-based movies can not possibly work if they are adapted straight, and as a fan, if that’s what you want there are plenty of great animated series that may appeal to you more. Change for change’s sake, however, that’s not something I agree with, but there’s a good justification for this change: times change and this costume suits the age in which it is being filmed. This smart, macho and actually rather sympathetic update really works for me. But that idea of nakedness does linger… speaking as a red-blooded lady I think I can live with that!
.

.

.

Alasdair Stuart: When I was 12 I had an Optimus Prime sweatshirt. It was awesome, black, warm and had a fantastic piece of art of Mr Prime on the front, back when Transformers art was representative of the toy rather than slightly over excited polygons and shapes as it now sometimes is.

I found the sweatshirt again when I was 14 and several inches taller and wider. Didn’t fit. I didn’t wear it anymore. Didn’t mean I didn’t still like it – I still do – but it just meant it was time for a change. You can, I think, see where I'm going with this.

Put Superman in a sack, he’s still Superman. Put Superman in nothing at all, he’s still Superman. Take Superman’s pants-on-the-outside look away, you are doing nothing to change the character at all. Know why? They’re pants. The man inside them is still a corn-fed, softly-spoken farmboy and the son of the greatest and last scientist of an ancient alien world and a great reporter and a hero. He just isn’t wearing pants on the outside anymore.

We’re change averse as a community and it’s the one thing that I get very, very tired of, because all modern culture is, on some level, tweaking and changing of established tropes and stories. We love the same types of characters, we love the same kinds of stories and if we didn’t then romcoms would end with everyone being dead and Rocky movies would finish with him being beaten to death in the ring. Which just sounds really depressing doesn’t it?

Yeah, the four of you pointing out what happens at the end of The Wrestler ? Point taken.

I’m not interested in whether the pants will make a return. I’m not interested in why everyone in the Justice League suddenly has a collar. And I’m not interested in whether or not this is the end of the world. Because guess what? It isn’t. Don’t like this costume? Go take a look at the stills from Man of Steel ? Don’t like that costume? Try Superman Returns ? Don’t like that one? Try the previous movies, or the cartoon, or the decades and decades of comics that all, all of them, feature the same man; the softly spoken, polite, gentle farmboy, the man of steel, the man of tomorrow, the hero, Superman. He’s still there, and that, not his relatively pantsedness, is the only thing that matters to me.
.

I can see the current trend of making superhero costumes look a bit more real world and less comic book like. But I think Superman is the one character where bright and colourful would be the one thing you keep – it’s part of his iconography surely. And yes. He needs his big bright red Y-fronts on the outside damnit!
.

Few fans ever stopped reading a comic over a costume change. During the story line in the “Death Of Superman” we had four Supermen. Superman’s costume changed, along with his powers – times four. As I recall, it caused a similar reaction to from the reading community.

There are two problems here: one, as humans we don’t like change, and two, collectors and long time readers feel a sense of personal ownership of the character. After all, we have spent a lot of time with the characters; some of us have spent more time with the characters than real people. Unfortunately, we don’t own the character, and the people who do, want to change it, possibly to stir up some controversy about the reboot – outrage and high emotion sell comics. All the people who are making noise about Superman’s costume would have been better served to turn an apathetic shoulder to the change if they don’t like it. It is really moot though; the costume will change again, and again.

.

.