A superhero’s costume is very important. A good costume can make all the difference- an eye-catching design can grab readers and get them to buy the comic to learn more about the person in the suit. Conversely, a hero can have the most interesting backstory in the world but if their costume is bad, there’s a good chance that no one will ever care about them.
One hero whose costume has always been pretty great is Superman. It’s so great that it set a standard for superhero costumes for years to come – bringing capes into vogue, the underwear outside the pants look (which is cool no matter what anyone thinks), having a symbol on the costume, and bright primary colors. That said, over the years, Superman has also worn some costumes that weren’t so great. This list is going to take a look both – the good and the bad.
10 Cool: The Silver Age Earth-2 Costume
Earth-2 Superman, for those who don’t know, is the original Superman. He was shunted over to Earth-2 with all of the other Golden Age superheroes. These characters would be resurrected in the Silver Age and begin to have their own adventures again.
The Earth-2 costume is pretty similar to the regular Superman costume, but it has different stylistic choices that make it look cool- the difference in S-shield symbols, the short cape, and the cuffs that make it look like a sweater when it’s not, hearkening back to the circus strongmen of yore. A classic design that will always look good.
9 Lame: The Original Costume
It’s all about the S-shield in this one. While it has all of the classic elements that would go on to make Superman‘s costume so iconic, the S-shield in this one is a work in progress and it shows.
A stylized yellow triangle with a small S in it, the color catches the eye but there’s nothing to keep the eye there. It would get better over the years and this initial outing is still iconic, it just doesn’t look very good anymore.
8 Cool: Silver Age Costume
Looking at the Silver Age costume, it’s hard to see any differences between it and the more modern takes on the costume, but they are there if one really studies it. To begin with, Curt Swan, the artist who drew so many of the classic Superman adventures of the time and one of the most iconic Superman artists that most people have never heard of, drew the character in a realistically muscled way that looks great.
Beyond that, the S shield was smaller and the cape was getting longer, little subtle differences that set it apart from the others and give it a great look.
7 Lame: The New 52 “Truth” Costume
This costume comes from when Superman had begun to lose his powers in the New 52. Ditching the Kryptonian Battle Armor he had been wearing for most of the New 52, Superman opted for a blue t-shirt with his symbol on it in yellow, red, and black, jeans, and scraps of his cape tied around his fists.
This look just didn’t work at all. The shaved head and the stubble screams edgelord and that’s whole problem with the look- it’s just sort of grubby and doesn’t at all fit the grandeur of Superman, even if he was losing his powers. This look was pulled off much better in the beginning of the New 52 in Morrison and Morales’ Action Comics.
6 Cool: Rebirth Costume
After the New 52, DC would decide that it was time to try something a little more tried and true and in DC: Rebirth #1 brought back the post-Crisis Superman. Gone was the Kryptonian Battle Armor of the New 52 and in its place fans got a suit back that hearkened back to the look many of them had grown up with.
The belt and the boots were different, but the costume still looked great. It looked modern and made some changes without sacrificing anything too classic.
5 Lame: The “Return Of Superman” Costume
After being killed by Doomsday, Superman was gone for a while, replaced by four other pseudo-Supermen. He would return eventually, of course, but his look would be a bit different to say the least. First off- super mullet.
Secondly, he would be wearing a black body suit with a big silver S shield, silver bracers on the wrists, and silver boots. It was very simple, but simple doesn’t equate to good. It sacrificed a lot of classic elements and doesn’t really do anything for the character.
4 Cool: Kingdom Come Costume
Kingdom Come is not only one of the best DC stories of the 90s, but just one of the best of the 90s in general. Set in a future where the old superheroes were all retired and replaced by a younger generation who were more about fighting each other than saving people, there are a lot of great costumes designs in this book, but Superman’s is probably the best.
Alex Ross darkened the colors of the costume up, a subtle nod to how much darker this future was, and changed the S shield, giving it a more futuristic design that looked sharper and more dangerous. He also added black to the shield, another nod to this future’s darkness. This costume is perfect for the story it appears in.
3 Lame: New 52 Kryptonian Battle Armor
Let’s get this out of the way- Jim Lee has been responsible for some great costumes designs over the years: all of the iconic 90s X-Men designs, Hush, and the WildC.A.T.s costumes. This one, though, is not one of those.
What’s the point of the collar? Why are there all of those little lines everywhere? Why do the cuffs do that thing where they come to a point on the top of the hand? Grant Morrison and Rags Morales tried to make this design make sense in Action Comics, but it was DOA.
2 Cool: The Modern Classic Look
Superman’s current costume is his best one. It takes all the things that have worked over the years with the costume and puts them together. In fact, it’s very hard to tell the difference between it and the modern post-Crisis look that most fans love the most.
It has the bigger chest symbol, the longer cape, the underwear outside the pants, the red boots, the more modern belt, and the cool cuffs that the Rebirth costume had. It’s a synthesis of everything good about the Superman costume.
1 Lame: Electric Blue Superman
We all knew this would be the ,amest one. The blue and white color scheme was okay and it fit with the whole electric power aesthetic, but it was also a bit visually jarring. The S shield also fit the aesthetic but that doesn’t mean it looked good. The headpiece was peak 90s and its inclusion made little to no sense.
This is easily Superman’s worst look over the years. The whole Electric Blue Superman thing wasn’t great to begin with and this costume just compounded that.
DC's Superman has had some awesome costumes in the comics, and some that are definitely better left in the past.