What does finally losing his shorts after seven decades tell us about our Superman? He’s self-conscious, insecure and worries so much about what others think about him that he’ll make radical changes just to try and look cooler…?
— J. Caleb Mozzocco, putting Superman’s new design into historical context, and not liking what he sees
In a short post on his own blog, Robot 6 contributor Caleb Mozzocco uses Larry Tye’s Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero as a springboard for some more thought about Superman’s underpants. I’ve never understood the hand-wringing over the shorts-less costumes (both in the New 52 and the Man of Steel movie) outside of a nostalgic resistance to change, but Caleb gets to the heart of what’s actually troubling about the redesign. Wearing underwear on the outside of your clothes is garish and silly, but that was always sort of the point: that Superman was awesome — and more importantly, confident — enough to pull it off.
That observation also explains why Batman’s been able to lose his outside underpants without a lot of complaints. Batman’s always been about his image and it makes sense that he continually tweak his costume to make it more effective. Superman should be above that.