Every Superman costume in DC, ranked worst to best
The Superman costume is an iconic suit that typically consists of a blue bodysuit with a red cape, boots, and a stylized "S" symbol on the chest. This costume was initially presented by artist Joe Shuster in Action Comics #1 back in 1938, which has subsequently emerged as one of the most recognizable and iconic superhero outfits in popular culture.
Superman's costume has inspired numerous other superhero costumes and has come to symbolize heroism and justice. Despite some variations and updates over time, the fundamental design has remained unaltered. It has become a long-standing representation of the character's might, fortitude, and moral character.
In the history of Superman's various costumes, there have been some remarkable ones. As such, this listicle has gathered comprehensive information on each one and ranked them according to their excellence.
Disclaimer: This article is subjective and reflects the views of the writer. It contains a ranking order from the worst design perspective to the best.
From Kirk Alyn to Henry Cavill: Tracing the history of every Superman costume in the DC Universe
8) Kirk Alyn
Kirk Alyn's Superman costume in the 1948 film series was simple and straightforward, featuring a bright blue bodysuit with red trunks and boots, along with a red cape and the iconic "S" emblem on the chest. While the costume lacked some of the intricate detailing and modern materials of the later versions, it perfectly captured the essence of the character and set the tone for all future interpretations.
One of the defining features of Alyn's costume was its bright, bold color scheme. The vibrant blue and red hues were instantly recognizable and helped establish Superman as a larger-than-life superhero. The iconic "S" emblem on the chest was also a key element of the costume and has since become synonymous with the character.
Despite its simplicity, Alyn's costume was a groundbreaking achievement in costume design. At the time, superhero costumes were relatively rare in popular culture, and the challenge of bringing such a colorful and outlandish character to life on screen was significant. Without Alyn's pioneering interpretation, it's hard to imagine what superhero films and television shows might look like today.
7) George Reeves
His costume in the 1950s TV series Adventures of Superman was a significant improvement over Kirk Alyn's, with a more streamlined design and a better fit. The costume was designed to be form-fitting and athletic, allowing Reeves to move with ease while performing stunts and fight scenes.
A bright blue bodysuit, red trunks, and boots remained, but the costume was now more tailored and stylish, with a sleeker, more modern look. One of the key improvements in Reeves' costume was the addition of the iconic "S" emblem on the cape, a design element that has since become synonymous with the character. The emblem was also given greater prominence on the chest, with a larger and more detailed design that made it a focal point of the costume.
Reeves' costume was not only an improvement in design but also set the standard for how Superman would be portrayed on screen for decades to come. Moreover, the actor's performance established the character as a symbol of hope and justice, with his costume helping to reinforce that image.
6) Christopher Reeve
Christopher Reeves' iconic Superman costume from the 1978 film is widely regarded as one of the best superhero costumes of all time. Designed by Oscar-winning costume designer Yvonne Blake, the Superman suit worn by Christopher Reeves was a true work of art. It perfectly captures the essence of the character, conveying his strength, agility, and otherworldly nature.
The bright red and blue colors, combined with the iconic "S" emblem on the chest, made the suit instantly recognizable to fans around the world. However, what set this costume apart was its attention to detail. From textured fabric to muscular padding, every element of the suit was carefully crafted to make Reeve look like a true superhero.
For many, Christopher Reeves' portrayal of Superman will always be the definitive version of the character, and his costume will be the ultimate superhero outfit.
5) Dean Cain
Dean Cain's portrayal of Superman in the 1990s TV series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman brought a fresh take on the character, and his costume was no exception. Designed by Jean-Pierre Dorléac, the suit was made to reflect the character's updated persona as the modern, coolest superhero.
The new costume featured darker shades of blue and red, with a more streamlined design that emphasized Cain's physique. One notable change was the removal of Superman's iconic red trunks, which were replaced by a simple, solid blue design.
Despite the changes, the Lois & Clark costume still retained many of the classic elements of the Superman suit. The cape, boots, and belt all remained intact, and the muscular padding gave Cain the iconic superhero physique that fans had come to expect.
4) Tom Welling
Tom Welling's Superman costume in the TV series Smallville was designed to showcase the character's evolution from a young man to a superhero. The outfit featured a dark blue color scheme with a red cape and boots and was made from leather to give it a more rugged, realistic look.
Additionally, the emblem on the chest was designed to resemble a shield rather than the classic "S" logo. The costume designer aimed to create a suit that would reflected Clark's journey, including his growth in strength, confidence, and heroism. The result was a suit that was both practical and symbolic, incorporating subtle details that represented Clark's evolution.
At the beginning of the series, Clark wore red and blue clothing that resembled a superhero costume. As he grew older and learned more about his powers and responsibilities, his costume also began to evolve.
3) Brandon Routh
Brandon Routh's portrayal of Superman in the 2006 film Superman Returns brought a new level of nostalgia to the character. The film was intended as a continuation of the original Christopher Reeve Superman film. As such, Routh's costume was designed as a modern update of the classic suit seen in Reeve's movies.
The new costume was created by costume designer Louise Mingenbach and was designed to be faithful to the original while incorporating some modern elements. The overall design of the costume was also similar to Christopher Reeve's, featuring bright red and blue colors, the iconic "S" emblem on the chest, and the cape, boots, and belt.
However, the new suit was made from a more modern, lightweight material and featured a more streamlined design that emphasized Routh's physique. One notable difference was the addition of a metallic sheen to the suit, which gave it a more futuristic look. Despite some controversy around the design choices, Routh's Superman costume was generally well-received by the audience and helped to establish him as a new, iconic version of the character.
2) Tyler Hoechlin
Tyler Hoechlin's Superman costume in the CW series Supergirl and Superman & Lois was designed to evoke the classic look of the character while incorporating modern elements. The suit was designed by Maya Mani to evoke the classic look of Superman, while also incorporating modern elements to make it stand out.
The "S" emblem on the chest was also updated with a more stylized and three-dimensional look, and the cape was designed to flow more naturally. Moreover, the costume featured a more modern texture and detailing, such as a high-tech mesh fabric that allowed for greater mobility and a metallic finish on the emblem and belt.
One notable change in Hoechlin's Superman costume was the addition of a collar, which had not been seen in previous versions of the suit. The collar was designed to give the suit a more regal appearance and to emphasize Superman's status as a hero and symbol of hope.
1) Henry Cavill
Henry Cavill's portrayal of Superman in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) introduced a new version of the character with a new Superman costume design. Created by Michael Wilkinson, the suit was designed to be more realistic and practical than the previous ones while remaining faithful to the character's iconic look.
The suit featured a textured, metallic material that gave it a more realistic and modern feel. The "S" emblem on the chest was also updated with a more stylized, three-dimensional look, and the cape was designed to be more flowing and natural-looking.
One of the most noticeable differences was the absence of red trunks in Superman's suit. This change was met with mixed reactions from fans and critics alike, as the trunks had been a staple of Superman's design for over 70 years. However, many argued that the removal of the trunks made Superman's suit look more like armor, which fit well with the darker and more grounded tone of Man of Steel.