Our First Look at Each Superman Live-Action Costume from George Reeves to David Corenswet

Superman Costume Reveals

This past week the internet went into a frenzy with the first reveal of David Corenswet’s Superman costume.

The same thing has happened time and time again, even before the internet existed. So let’s look back at the first reveal of each live-action Superman costume over the years.

While I’ve been unable to find when the public were first exposed to Kirk Alyn’s Man of Steel before the release of the “Superman” Serial in 1948, his costume wasn’t too dissimilar to George Reeves who followed him in the 1950s TV series “Adventures of Superman”.

With thanks to Jim Nolt, it’s unclear if an image ever was “released” to the public. However there were a couple of early newspaper articles in the summer of 1951 announcing that production on the TV series had begun, including the announcement that George Reeves had signed on to play the lead role, that Phyllis Coates was also part of the cast, but none of these newspaper articles included any photos.

In July 1951 there was an article about “Superman and the Mole-Men”, but the photo included was a scene from the film with George Reeves as Clark Kent, not as Superman. According to Jim Nolt, “The first newspaper article I have with a photo of George as Superman is from 1952. It announces the showing of Mole-Men at a local theater and includes a short from the film.”

From Jim’s collection of photos, this is the earliest one of George Reeves as Superman, and that it appears to have been sent to TV stations for promotional purposes.

George Reeves Superman

When it comes to Christopher Reeve’s Superman, another Jim, Jim Bowers from CapedWonder.com says, “One of the black-and-white promotional photos of Chris in New York City posing in front of the water appeared in various newspapers just a couple of days after the New York City photo session. However, to the best of my knowledge the first worldwide distribution was in Time magazine dated August 1, 1977; that article featured the skyline pointing photo in color.”

“The first official photos released were from the New York City photo sessions atop of the Mayflower Hotel, at Brooklyn Bridge Park with the water behind him, on the Manhattan Bridge, etc., all shot in July 1977.”

Christopher Reeve Superman

As for 1994’s “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” TV series, it appears as though a series of back lot photos of Dean Cain as Superman were amongst the first photos released to the public, at a time when the internet was still in its infancy in 1993. Not many of the fan sites or message boards that popped up for “Lois & Clark” still exist today, so it’s hard to say how fans initially reacted to that first costume revea. However, the shoulder pads and cape attachment of that first costume would see a number of changes in design over the show’s four seasons, especially early on in Season 1.

Dean Cain Superman

Warner Bros. Pictures gave us our first look at Brandon Routh as Superman on April 22, 2005 ahead of the film release on June 30, 2006. The reveal came via a USA Today article and press release issued by the studio.

At the time director Bryan Singer said, “I always had the general idea of the suit. However, when the conceptual art was evolving around the same time that I cast Brandon, I privately had paintings rendered with Brandon’s face, which certainly brought it to life.”

Brandon Routh Superman

After years of false starts and missteps trying to get Superman back on the big screen, on August 4, 2011 Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures provided us with a first look at Henry Cavill as Superman for “Man of Steel”, which would be released on June 14, 2013.

At the time comic book artist Jon Bogdanove told the Superman Homepage, “Rubberized bodysuits and plasticized ‘S’ shields, adorable electric skating unitards or new panty-less turtle-neck armor just feel like emperor’s new clothes to me. Perhaps the best effect of these variants is that they re-invigorate my appreciation for the original. Meanwhile, the basic costume remains the world’s most recognizable brand identity, so why mess with the ‘S’?”

With some slight variations and black versions thrown in for good measure, Henry Cavill’s Superman look was fairly consistent throughout the film sequels that would follow.

Henry Cavill Superman

On July 28, 2016 The CW released the first image of Tyler Hoechlin as Superman for Season 2 of the “Supergirl” TV series. That initial costume wasn’t that well received, mostly over the “belt-buckle” cape attachments, with fans split in their opinions. In a poll we ran on our website, 28% didn’t like it, but 26% were happy with it. Another 23% though it was just average.

Hoechlin’s costume would change over the years, modifying the design for his own “Superman & Lois” TV series.

Tyler Hoechlin Superman

Which brings us to the May 6, 2024 reveal of David Corenswet’s Superman costume for the upcoming film to be released on July 11, 2025. As with any of the costume reveals over the years, opinions are divided. Some are rejoicing in the return of the red trunks, while others are disappointed to see them back. Much has been said about the composition of the photo, the “turtle neck” collar, the “looseness” of the costume, and even to concern over why Superman is taking his time putting on his boots while Metropolis appears to be under attack outside his window.

David Corenswet Superman

As with every revelation before it, opinions will wax and wane as more images and video footage of the new movie are released.

The more things change, the more they stay the same…

Steve Younis