Superman: 5 Costumes We Love (& 5 We Hate)

While costume changes and redesigns are a fairly common occurrence in comics, there are a few characters who always seem to revert back to their iconic costumes. Superman is a good example of this, as he has seen quite a few in-continuity costume changes that have definitely got fans talking at times.

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The trouble with having such an iconic costume is that almost nothing measures up to the original. So today we are going to take a closer look at a few of our favorite Superman costumes that the Man of Steel has worn over the years, along with a few of his worst wardrobe decisions.


DC Comics experienced it's first big reboot following the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, which aimed to clean up the messy DC multiverse and reintroduce popular characters like Superman and Wonder Woman with newly updated origins. John Byrne was responsible for introducing the new Superman in the mini-series Superman: The Man of Steel.

While Superman's costume retained the same look overall as the original, there were some subtle changes that made this the best Superman costume. The blues and reds were darker, his cape was now draped over his shoulders instead of hanging off his back, and the "S" shield was at it's broadest, spread entirely across Superman's chest.


Superman Electric Blue

The 90s were not a great time for Superman, as he not only dealt with his death and return (more on that later) but he also underwent a radical power alteration that resulted in a new costume and a new Superman. This costume redesign received national media attention and was almost instantly hated by fans.

The costume itself wasn't terrible for a new electricity-based character, but it did not fall in line with Superman and came across instead as a desperate marketing ploy. The costume was reused a few times after Kal-El reverted to his regular costume, and most recently served as the inspiration for Lana Lang's Superwoman costume in the New 52.

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Mark Waid and Alex Ross introduced readers to a dark possible future of the DC Universe with the Kingdom Come mini-series, which has now been revealed as one of the parallel Earths in the DC Multiverse. Kingdom Come features an aged Justice League coming back together to deal with the threat a new generation of heroes poses to the world.

Superman is a much different character in this future as his wife was killed years ago and the public had lost faith in him as their hero. However, he still returned to try to save humanity, and he wore an updated version of his original costume that reflected the dark period of their lives, most noticeably with the modernized "S" shield with the black background.


Unfortunately, not all of Superman's future costumes are as awesome as his Kingdom Come look. Superman Beyond is an alternate future take who appears in the Batman Beyond future where Terry McGinnis has taken over as Batman under the tutelage of an elderly Bruce Wayne. While this universe began as an animated series, it soon migrated to comics and exists in the Multiverse.

Superman Beyond is the same Kal-El as the mainstream continuity but older, however, his costume has lost almost anything identifying the hero most fans know as Superman. The "S" shield is all but unrecognizable, and the black and white color scheme seem far too muted for such a bold character.

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Of course, that isn't to say that Superman doesn't look good in black, and it's a further example of how integral a character's iconography is to their overall costume. When Superman first returned to life after dying during his battle with Doomsday, he wore a silver and black capeless costume that still worked, largely due to the classic but modified symbol.

This version of Superman, who would become known as the Pre-Flashpoint Superman, would return again in the New 52 after the Convergence event, though he would exist in the rebooted New 52 alongside another younger Superman. He would again switch to a black and silver costume, though the second version featured a silver belt that gave the slight impression of an "S" shield.


The Bottle City of Kandor was a shrunken Kryptonian city taken by Brainiac that was Superman's final link to his heritage. During the World of New Krypton storyline by James Robinson, Greg Rucka, and Pete Woods, the Bottle City's inhabitants were restored to normal size and began soaking up our sun's yellow radiation, gaining powers like Superman.

They would create a New Krypton in Earth's orbit, and Kal-El would join his people there as Commander El, a member of the military working under recently released war criminal General Zod. The costume was drab and utilitarian, which was obviously the point, but we still didn't care for it.

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Superman's costume went through many alterations since his debut in Action Comics #1, with each artist putting their own spin on the costume that would refine his iconic "S" shield into the logo known around the world.

The costume featured lighter blues and reds than we would see in the more modern Post-Crisis costume and was more reminiscent of its origins as a circus strongman's outfit. The Golden and Silver Age versions of Superman are usually represented by the Earth-Two Superman in the Post-Crisis timeline, who survived the cleaning up of the Multiverse.


The DC universe went through another reboot due to the Flashpoint event, and Superman and the various characters were given a modern and youthful redesign. We'll discuss his main costumes soon, but we saw an odd suit of armor added to his wardrobe during the Superman Unchained mini-series from Scott Snyder and Jim Lee.

This over the top battle armor was created by the Fortress of Solitude to deal with General Lane's army of mech suits, and even features cool energized weapons. However the armor is quickly destroyed, and Superman does just as well if not better without it.

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The Rebirth era kicked off a restructuring of the issues left over from the New 52 reboot and featured a number of costume redesigns that tended to blend the reboot's ideas with the proven classic aesthetic of the Pre-Flashpoint universe.

We previously mentioned the Pre-Flashpoint Superman who existed alongside his New 52 counterpart, and Rebirth began initially by combining the two Supermen, which resulted in one of the best modern takes on the costume we've ever seen. It's almost a shame that Brian Michael Bendis reverted Superman to his Post-Crisis costume because we still love this trunkless success.

1 HATE: NEW 52

Alright, we've mentioned the New 52 reboot a few times, so let's get into it. Flashpoint rewrote the DC universe and shortened the timeline, resulting in younger heroes with new story options. Superman's story was told initially in two time periods, his early days as a superhero and his beginnings with the Justice League.

his early day costume was just a Superman T-shirt, cape and jeans, which he revisited again in the present day after his powers were reduced. His New 52 costume was actually highly advanced Kryptonian armor that was full of seams and collared like most of the reboot redesigns. Superman's early outfit was a little too simple, and his modern New 52 costume was just a bit too much.

NEXT: The Flash’s 5 Best Costumes (& His 5 Worst)

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