Hits and Misses - Superman Suits in the '90s and early 2000s.

By Joe Kucharski - June 13, 2013

We continue our series on the evolution of the Superman suit, taking a look at the costumes of the 1990s and early 2000s.

Superman makes his return to the small screen.

The 1990s saw the return of Superman to the small screen in Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, starring Dean Cain.  The series covered the more personal side of Superman's life, his work, and relationship with Lois. Notably, Cain was the most muscular man of steel to date, so the overall look of the suit is different, proportionately.  In addition, the creators did away with the superhero's iconic forehead curl, opting for a much more modern hairstyle.

Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, starring Dean Cain, 1993-1997.

His suit received only minor changes from that of Reeve's.  While the same high sheen was retained, without the same blue-screen concerns of the film franchise, Superman's colors were back to vivid shades of primary blue, red, and yellow.  The trunks, still with a high cut leg opening, shrunk slightly, sitting fashionably lower and on the hips.  The boots flipped the deep "v" of previous costumes into a small peek at the center front.


 Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, starring Dean Cain, 1993-1997.


A comical montage in the early part of the series makes changes to the suit origin story of the past, featuring Ma Kent making several failed costume mock-up attempts.  In the end, some piece of the origin story is included as she adds the "S" shield, found with him in his baby blanket.  Ma Kent also makes a slightly irreverent, now famous, comment as she eyes Clark in his new suit, "Well, one thing's for sure, nobody's going to be looking at your face."  You can see the montage below.


Costume Designer- Judith Brewer Curtis, 1993-1997.

Costume Designer- Darryl Levine, 1995-1997.

The Superman film that never was.

In 1998, Tim Burton went into pre-production on a Superman reboot entitled Superman Lives, set to star Nicholas Cage as the man of steel.  Budget and creative problems set the project back year after year before it was ultimately scrapped by the studio, but not before a costume was created and fittings took place.  Because of that, we have a glimpse at the Superman that could have been.  Dark and heavily molded, this suit looks strangely similar to the suits created for Burton's Batman films.

I think we can all agree we dodged a speeding bullet with this film being canned!


Nicholas Cage in Superman suit in scrapped Superman Lives project, 1998.


The failed film franchise reboot.

Superman Returns, starring Brandon Routh, opened in 2006 and was billed as the reboot of a very famous film franchise.  Unfortunately, the film was not well received by audiences or critics.  No sequel was ever made.  The suit itself made arguably the largest leap in history up until this point.  The overall colors of the suit were deeper with a grey blue, maroon, and gold color palette.


Brandon Routh in Superman Returns, 2006.


The neck opening shrunk significantly. His cape went from a soft woven fabric to what appears to be leather.  The body of the suit received an overall diamond textured pattern, with the "S" shield being heavily texturized and raised away from the suit.  The belt also received more attention than in previous incarnations with the additional of a carved "S" belt buckle.  Routh's boots returned to the classic "v" front shape, and were given a bit more depth with two different textures of material.


Brandon Routh in Superman Returns, 2006.

Detailed photo of Routh's Superman Lives costume on display.


After seven long years of waiting, fans around the world are ecstatic to see a new Superman film franchise reboot which is already looking much more promising than the last.

Costume Designer- Louise Mingenbach

Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman - The Complete First Season

Superman Returns

To view part five of The History of Superman's Suit as a Costume click here...