I don’t understand the defenses and praises by some of these movie websites. The clip above is one of Zach Snyder’s intended scenes for Justice League, released as part of the promotion for the Snyder Cut that presumably will restore this and other scenes removed because Warner Brothers chose the wrong point to course correct on the DC Extended Universe. The actual point was before Snyder was ever chosen for Man Of Steel. The reasons that Snyder was good for Watchmen are the exact same reasons he was a terrible choice for anything with Superman. That’s not a slam of his directing, though I’m not a fan of his style of movie. Not every creator is right for every project. Again, Steven King on a romantic comedy would end poorly. It just means his vision of superheroes clashes with what DC fans expect from an interpretation of the DC Universe and while Man Of Steel was a decent superhero movie it was not a good Superman movie.
Instead WB opted to redo Justice League while Snyder was mourning his daughter’s death, already a bad move, but Joss Whedon’s attempts to work with the footage they had resulted in a movie that lost direction a number of times as Whedon and Snyder’s vision of what makes a good superhero movie clashed. As a fan of these characters I am not looking forward to Snyder’s continued influence though as a creator I respect his wanting to make his movie since all it needed was editing and a few reshoots if a scene wasn’t shot right and that’s not what they did. They also tried to trash Snyder’s fans and demands to release the Snyder cut so it’s also seen as a pushback against fan-bashing Hollywood that HBO Max saw a way to draw in more paying subscriber to their service.
Too many entertainment “news” outlets tend to favor the darker incarnations. We saw that with the woman who interviewed Snyder recently going on about how cool “evil Superman” was to her. Now comes this CinemaBlend article by Sarah El-Mahmoud, and I’m using the web archive version because the ads my host puts you through (that I get nothing out of besides a free host) are bad enough. At least you can click off that white band on the bottom so the ad doesn’t cover the reason you came here the whole time and thus far I haven’t seen the autoplaying video that follows you everywhere that thinks it’s fine because it’s muted. Still, here’s the regular link if you so choose. For some reason El-Mahmoud wanted to praise the use of the black costume and I don’t think she makes the case she thinks she does.
Since Justice League was in production, musings of the appearance and disappearance of the black suit has been a hot button point of discussion. On the heels of Henry Cavill debuting his badass alternative Supes look, and as we prepare for more teases for the Snyder Cut, let’s backtrack – why is this change of color to Kal-El’s costume so important to a character also defined by his traditional outfit’s red and blue patriotism? It’s time to break it down here:
The writer of the CinemaBlend article she links to calls the black costume, namely the suit Superman wears when he makes his return from the dead to join the other “Supermen” in defeating the Cyborg Superman, iconic. Um, no it isn’t. It’s a special costume he wore to absorb sunlight faster to restore his powers. Why is it black? I think it’s the mistaken belief that dark colors absorb sunlight (I think it absorbs heat, but I’m not a scientist), but it could be the reason this writer tries to claim.
When Superman wears the black suit, it serves as this transition period between his death and return to his hero work. It’s a symbolism of hope for the hero to earn his colors back and start saving the day again. Plus, he rocked a pretty awesome mullet in this look.
The moment you defended the mullet you pretty much lost everybody. Few people who survived 90s DC praise the mullet. I don’t even hate mullets and it looks wrong. Look at this thing!
She then goes on to discuss the “great” history of the black suit.
In another ‘90s run of Superman called Kingdom Come, Superman doesn’t turn to the Recovery Suit, but he does add black to his “S” emblem after Lois Lane is killed and he hangs up hero work for an extended period of time. Blackness around his “S” symbolizes him starting to come out of the darkness as the hero is meant to be. And to throw it back to the late ’90s/early 2000s series Batman Beyond, an older Superman in the future shows up in a black suit, which different from the Recovery Suit, but certainly symbolizes Kal-El as a hero with powers that are not exactly what they used to be.
I never understood why Batman Beyond had him in the black suit, a design taken from an alternate universe Superman who turned dictator along with Lex Luthor (who of course lacked even Superman’s morals at the time…compared to the Injustice Superman who went full tyrant), as future Kal-El’s costume, but nothing was wrong with his powers. He had been taken over by a little Starro but his powers were fine.
Just ask Inque. I looked at the DCAU fanwiki article about this episode, the two-parter “The Call“, and there’s no explanation there for the change, though one could speculate it was Starro’s idea. Superman is just fine in the episode. I’m not sure I buy her theory that the suit is a constant symbol of his “coming out of the darkness”. Plenty of stories in various media have had Superman coming out of retirement or dealing with the consequences of his actions and NOT wearing black. You can make a better case for the occasions Spider-Man jumped back into a symbiote-free black suit than Superman wearing black.
Expanding into other Superman media, let’s look at how the black suit has been translated for live-action television adaptations of the character. Remember Smallville? The CW show predating the Arrowverse followed Tom Welling’s Clark Kent growing up before he became Superman. Although the show took a number of creative liberties with the character, one important milestone in his journey to becoming the iconic hero happened during Season 9. Welling’s Kent wore a black suit and trench coat as he did vigilante work in Metropolis, before finally donning the red and blue by the series finale.
I didn’t really want the show anymore at this point, but from what I’ve seen and heard Welling didn’t want to wear the traditional suit right to the end for whatever reason he had, even after the original creators and showrunners left. So Clark became “the Blur”, using his superspeed to help others while concealing his identity. That was more like a compromise than being iconic, something to make him blend into the darkness. She’s still reaching here. As for the Arrowverse, I didn’t see the episode where he’s wearing black so I can’t comment on it. From here she goes into why the black suit was dropped from the movie.
Henry Cavill’s black suit was removed from the theatrical cut of Justice League because the filmmakers reportedly felt the character should come back in his “upbeat” red and blue costume, according to the film’s costume designer, Michael Wilkinson. Here’s what Wilkinson previously said:
“At first it seemed that it might be a logical choice for the look of Superman when he’s resurrected. Zack is extremely respectful and passionate about the depiction of Superman in comic books and graphic novels,…
Sorry, no, I’m calling bullcrap on that. I’ve seen Man Of Steel and he really does not. Otherwise, the costume would look more like this…
Even if he’s part of the “no trunks” group he does not get the costume at all. And this is from Batman V. Superman marketing.
…and traditionally when he is resurrected, he is in the black suit.
Again, no he isn’t. There was no resurrection in the DCAU, Smallville Clark was using his powers for good but still doing it in secret like someone who isn’t Superman, and he wasn’t resurrected in Kingdom Come either, just questioning his place in that world after being rejected or whatever his backstory was. Also other artists have broken out the black coloring around the S in place of the yellow because of personal preference and maybe as homage to the previous uses of the black coloring around the S in the 1940s. Again, no resurrection or “returning to the light” there.
But as the tone of the film developed and we were in pre-production, the filmmakers felt that the classic red and blue suit seemed more appropriate to our story and our script. It seemed that a more positive, upbeat image of Superman was what was needed — the idea of hope and that the world could in fact be saved was important, so that’s the direction that we went.”
So is the black costume in the Snyder cut an addition, a change made after the fact where for whatever reason Snyder changed his mind? Either way I think Wilkinson is right about Superman going right to being a more hopeful hero upon his return…or would be if Snyder understood what that meant, and he doesn’t.
It’s clear to me at least that the writer understands little about why Superman ever wore a black costume…though his usual Snyder suit is so muted in its red/blue colors that it might as well BE black frankly. It’s not “iconic”, certainly not as much as his traditional outfit and Synder’s original suit didn’t really signify an iconic look either. It’s not some symbol of resurrection or Superman coming out of the darkness. Previous black costumes didn’t even have a cape. Smallville Clark’s longcoat is the closest to it, so even that Snyder got wrong. It’s just trying to be edgy and dark…two things Superman fans aren’t looking for when they want to see or read a Superman adventure. This movie is only going to succeed with Snyder fans because so far it looks like even less of what makes the DC Universe special is going to be here. That’s not the story Snyder wants to tell, which is the case for far too many people being handed these characters.