Saw “Man of Steel” last night, and while you’ll have to wait a few days for the review, here’s a lively controversy to ponder: The new Superman, played with blue-eyed intensity by Henry Cavill, does not wear his traditional red underwear over his tights. See?
A lot of people on the Internet are a little bent out of shape about this, because Superman has always, since his late-1930s comic-book origins, worn the red underwear (or, if you want to give it a dignified name, “trunks”). Initially, they were meant to suggest a circus strongman or bodybuilder — neither of whom, for the record, would have worn them over tights, far as I know. And, speaking from a purely fashion standpoint, underwear over tights is kind of goofy-looking. Zack Snyder, director of “Man of Steel,” says in a behind-the-scenes featurette that he looked at “hundreds” of costume sketches using the underwear, but it never looked consistent with the world he was creating. (In other words, they looked kind of goofy.) Hence the new Superman suit, which has some sort of texturizing in the crotch area (serious fashion term, I know), but no visible underwear. A major break with tradition, to be sure, though the recent DC Comics redesign of Superman lost the trunks as well. Some fans have turned up on Facebook with a good explanation. Nor does this new Superman have the traditional curl over his forehead, but that’s another controversy, for another day.