David Corenswet’s Superman Suit Has a Surprising DC New 52 Connection

The first image from James Gunn's Superman, starring David Corenswet, points to a working man of steel, straight from Grant Morrison's underrated New 52 comic series.

Superman in DC's New 52 Era
Photo: DC Comics

Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s… well, we’re not entirely sure what it is, but it looks like something Brainiac would use to attack the Earth.

Whatever the cross-space invader in the picture that director James Gunn just posted to social media may be, the real attention goes to the figure in the foreground of the image: our very first look at David Corenswet in full uniform as Superman.

Gunn has long been posting teasers about his upcoming movie, initially dubbed Superman: Legacy, but now just titled Superman. In addition to releasing news about the extended cast, which includes The Wire vet Wendell Pierce as Perry White and genre fave Nathan Fillion as Green Lantern Guy Gardner, Gunn has answered questions online and posted images of Corenswet goofing around with co-stars Rachel Brosnahan (Lois Lane) and Nicholas Hoult (Lex Luthor). But the picture of Corenswet as Superman is the first official piece of imagery released from the film.

Perhaps the biggest surprise here is how little Corenswet’s costume differs from those of previous live-action Supermen. The suit has the darker colors of the Henry Cavill costumes worn in Man of Steel and other films, with the texturing of many modern superhero costumes. The basketball-like dimples that cover Corenswet’s supersuit can be found on all Cavill’s costumes, as well as those seen on Tyler Hoechlin on Supergirl and Superman and Lois.

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While that might rankle some fans looking for a return to the classic suit worn by the all-time best live-action Superman, Christopher Reeve, consider Brandon Routh’s costume in Superman Returns. As an homage to the Reeve Superman movies, Routh’s costume had brighter colors than found in most modern Superman outfits. But the flat texture gave the suit a plastic, artificial look—a problem made worse by the plastic insignia protruding from Routh’s chest. With modern lighting and cinematic techniques, a textured costume might just be less distracting than a smooth costume.

However, those looking closely will notice one important return to the costumes of old. This Superman sports trunks once again, an element missing from recent live-action costumes and from those in the comics, at least for a while. On one hand, the trunks are dated, a quality of strong-man outfits of the early 20th century, unbecoming for the Man of Tomorrow. On the other, Superman just feels wrong with out the splash of red to break up his blue exterior, especially with the darker blue of many suits.

Against the classic trunks, belt, and boots of the Corenswet costume are elements from the last 15 years of DC Comics. With the textures of the suit come ridges that recall the Kryptonian armor that Jim Lee gave the character during the New 52 reboot, later refined by George Pérez. As with Lee’s design, the Corenswet suit has a high collar, breaking from the plunging necklines of the comics, reflected in the suits worn by Reeve and Dean Cain in Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.

That said, the most classical (and controversial) aspects of the suit may be the way it fits. The lighting of the image underscores the visible folds on the chest and arms of the costume. Instead of the detailed musculature that we’re used to seeing on Cavill and Hoechlin, there’s almost a bagginess to the suit.

In a way, that lack of extreme detail points back to the first live-action Superman costumes, those worn by Kirk Alyn and George Reeves. Without question, those costumes have a cheaper quality, befitting the low-budget children’s entertainment of the shows. But there’s also something endearing and almost humane about this design choice.

For some, the New 52 elements of the costume portend a problem with the movie on the whole. The New 52 largely presented a darker version of the DC Universe, not unlike the tone of the Zack Snyder movies. Although he’s best known for films that have a real mean streak, including Guardians of the Galaxy, but even more so movies like The Suicide Squad and Super, Gunn has presented his Superman film as a more positive turn from the Snyder films.

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And yet, the image Gunn released finds Superman not in a heroic pose with his cape in the air, but sitting in a chair and pulling up his boots. The dark shading of the image suggests that he’s tired and resigned, not bounding into action. For some, this look reminds them of the Superman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, who seemed to resent the humans who needed his help. That’s a far cry from the Grant Morrison comics that Gunn had been name-dropping as inspirations for his movie.

Or is it? While All-Star Superman is easily Morrison’s most famous work on the Man of Steel, and Superman and the Authority was his most recent, the boots point to another, more grounded take on Superman. While Pérez handled the mainline Superman book in the New 52 and Geoff Johns wrote Superman in Justice League, Morrison took over writing duties with Action Comics.

Action Comics told the new origin of Superman in the New 52, and Morrison deliberately called back to the Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster comics of the Golden Age. In those first Superman stories, the Man of Steel was more of a social crusader, one who battled unscrupulous landlords and rescued death-row inmates more than he did Lex Luthor or Parasite.

In Morrison’s Action Comics, Superman wore blue jeans and brown boots along with his red cape, a look inspired by labor organization posters. But that wasn’t the end goal for this Superman. Morrison imagined his stories as a new origin tale, one that would set the working-class roots of a character that he would carry into his adventures across the stars as an adult.

That Superman still had an optimistic attitude, a desire to inspire others with hope and a love for justice. He just saw it as the hard work that he had to do, pulling up his boots and getting into action.

That’s the spirit we see in the image that Gunn revealed. A Superman who doesn’t just represent truth and justice, but a Superman who’s going to work for it. And that’s a Superman worth looking up to.

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Superman comes to theaters July11, 2025.