James Gunn Superman Costume Continues Disappointing Tradition

By Zack Zagranis | Published

By now, you’ve probably seen the image floating around of David Corenswet wearing the new James Gunn Superman costume. Sadly it looks as though Gunn is continuing the disappointing trend of putting a new spin on the suit design simply because he can. And while I don’t “hate” the new costume, I don’t love it either.

Why Change What Works?

I guess I just don’t understand DC and Warner Bros.’s fascination with trying to reinvent the wheel every time they decide to reboot Superman. The wheel, in this case, being the iconic costume Christopher Reeve first donned 45 years ago for Superman: The Movie. I mean, they nailed it right out of the gate. Why try to improve upon perfection?

Geez, I just realized I sound like my Dad when Tim Burton’s Batman came out. Why can’t they just get Adam West to play Batman again?” The difference in this instance, though, is that my reasons for wanting James Gunn to use the OG Superman costume have nothing to do with nostalgia and everything to do with character.

Superman’s Costume Should Be Simple

superhero costumes

Superman might be an alien physically, but in his heart, he’s the quintessential “Aw, shucks” Midwestern farmboy. The best version of the character reflects that by saving the world in a costume his mom sewed for him. It’s not flashy or fancy, and that’s by design.

Superman’s classic costume is simple to match his simple, down-to-earth outlook on life. Yes, I’m aware that James Gunn’s Superman costume appears to be based on the New 52 incarnation of the character, where his suit is Kryptonian battle armor or some such malarkey, and I don’t care. It shouldn’t be.

Too Much Like Snyder’s Superman

james gunn henry cavill

DC continuity changes like the seasons, and I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for writers to have to adhere to a new canon every time DC decides to reboot everything. Filmmakers like James Gunn, however, aren’t beholden to comic book canon, giving them the freedom to pick and choose the aspects of the character they wish to present on screen. James Gunn should want to distance his new DCU from the Snyderverse in any way possible to avoid comparisons.

What perplexes me is that he didn’t. Not with this costume, at least.

The James Gunn Superman costume has a lot in common with the Zack Snyder Superman costume. The colors are muted, and there are all kinds of weird raised lines on the suit texture where there doesn’t need to be. David Corenswet’s super suit, much like Henry Cavill’s, is clearly meant to be Kryptonian in nature and not something his mom could easily patch up by getting her old sewing machine out of the closet.

Superman Isn’t A Soldier

superhero costumes

Basically, the new design, like the Snyder one, misses two key elements of Superman. First, he wouldn’t want his costume to look like battle armor or any kind of military outfit because combat isn’t his goal. Ever.

Superman isn’t some super-soldier like Captain America. He’s a first responder, a firefighter who just happens to be able to fly and shoot lasers from his eyes.

The second element that these suits, with their muted colors and sleek lines, miss is that Superman is a big dork. He is an awesome, lovable, and sometimes, when he has to be, intimidating dork, but a dork nonetheless. He doesn’t care about the fact that his costume is bright and garish.

Superman isn’t trying to look cool. He leaves that to Batman.

Superman Isn’t Batman

zack snyder batman

Look, I’m a Batman Stan at heart to the point where my one and only tattoo is a bat symbol on my arm. But you know what? If James Gunn decides to radically reinvent the DCU Batman costume in a way that makes the new Superman costume look tame by comparison I won’t care one bit. You know why?

Because that’s Batman’s character. Like Tony Stark, Batman constantly upgrades and changes his suit to add new features and design choices. Batman also has to worry about his costume looking menacing and blending into the shadows. Two things Superman couldn’t give a flying fig about.

Supes doesn’t want to look menacing, and he definitely doesn’t need to camouflage himself because nothing can hurt him. That’s one of the things I hate about James Gunn and Zack Snyder muting the colors on the Superman costume.

Why? Superman could wear a bright yellow costume with a neon orange bullseye painted on his chest, and it wouldn’t matter. Bullets aren’t going to hurt him more just because he has no fashion sense.

Waiting To Pass Judgment

james gunn superman

If I had to begrudgingly say something positive about the James Gunn Superman costume, it’s that it appears he may have brought back the trunks. Is Superman wearing his underwear on the outside of his costume kind of dumb? Yes! That’s the point!

Unfortunately, for some reason, he also gave Superman a weird collar that cancels out my enthusiasm over the trunks.

Ultimately, this Superman should be judged by his actions and not what he’s wearing, just like anybody else so I haven’t written off this version of The Man of Steel just yet. I want to see at least a trailer first before I pass judgment.

But James, buddy, you’re not giving me a lot of hope here with this silly New 52 cosplay.