Henry Cavill gets a classic brighter Superman costume in new fan art. 1938’s Action Comics #1 famously marked the first appearance of Superman, the superhero creation of writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Schuster. Over the years, the character has gone through numerous reinventions in the pages of the comics, while also seeing his adventures adapted for both the big and small screen.
Movie audiences first enjoyed Superman’s adventures in a series of animated shorts produced between 1943 and 1941. A live-action movie version of the character was introduced in 1948, then television took over with the series Adventures of Superman from 1952 to 1958. Superman was considered a B-level property, appropriate for kids’ shows and movie serials, until 1978 when Christopher Reeve starred as the first big-budget movie iteration of the character. Since then, Brandon Routh and Henry Cavill have both donned variations of Superman’s iconic costume, with the character’s last appearance coming in 2017’s DCEU movie Justice League.
It remains to be seen whether Superman still has a place in the ever-evolving DCEU, and if any future versions of the character will do away with the dark trappings that have accompanied him in recent years and return to a more innocent take on the defender of Metropolis. For now, fans are continuing to re-imagine the character themselves, as in a new take from artist Barrett.Digital that gives Cavill’s Superman a look poised somewhere between the classic and modern. See the art in the space below:
The above version of Superman indeed reverses course on the dark and gritty take on the character introduced in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel and continued in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and the aforementioned Justice League. This costume takes things all the way back to much brighter times when Superman was allowed to be a fun wish-fulfillment character instead of a brooding Jesus metaphor, without going too far back in time. This look is quite a switch from the “black suit” Superman featured in another recent piece of fan art.
Of course, it’s a matter of taste whether a fan prefers the darker Superman – who of course exists in the comics as well as the movies – or a classic Superman who would have been more at home in the relatively lightweight 1978 movie. Recent DCEU movies like Joker and Birds of Prey do point to a darker and more adult-oriented future for the movie universe, though there is still room for a light-hearted movie like Shazam! (which arguably is closer to a real Superman movie than anything since Reeve played the role in the ‘80s).
There is an argument to be made that Superman needs a grittier and more realistic dimension to be palatable to today’s audiences, and there’s an equally compelling argument that Superman simply doesn’t work on-screen at all and should be left to the comic books. Ultimately, the character is simply too important to DC to be retired entirely, so it’s certain that one way or another he will eventually fly back into movie theaters.