Superman is one of the most iconic fictional characters ever created. You don’t even need to be a hardcore DC fan to know that. Superman is easily recognizable thanks to the design of his superhero suit, which is dominated by a combination of blue bodysuit and red cape. And we must never forget his iconic red trunks, which he wears above his pants in most incarnations. Now, one Reddit user has an interesting theory of why Superman wears his underwear on the outside, and in this article, we’ll break that theory down.
According to a Reddit user Jetsam5, Superman wears his trunks on the outside because the red fabric used to make his suit came from the indestructible blanket in which Kal-El was tucked when he was sent away from Krypton. In the New Earth continuity in the comics, it’s known that the Superman suit was made by Clark’s adapted mother, Martha Kent, using an ordinary Terran fabric, but according to this fan theory, the trunks were made from the Kryptonian blanket to protect his important parts, and he wears it on the outside to protect his blue pants since even when his suit gets damaged, the trunks stay intact.
The creation of Superman started the Golden Age of Comic Books back in 1938, and it opened the way for the establishment of American comics, which introduced many other iconic characters that remain equally popular to this day. The Superman suit is one of the most known superhero suits ever, and although there were some versions in which Superman didn’t have red trunks (the best example is Henry Cavill in ‘Man of Steel’), the trunks are still considered an important part of his iconic look. In the rest of this article, we’ll look into the source material and compare their information with this fan theory.
What is the Superman suit made of?
Superman is one of the most powerful superheroes in DC Comics. His abilities include flying, unlimited strength and durability, super speed and reflexes, heat vision, freeze breath, and X-ray vision. When you have a powerful character, it’s obvious that you need to equip him with the right outfit to sustain everything and stay in one piece after going through numerous battles and different environments.
In the DC Comics canon, many different versions of Superman were introduced, and since every version brings some slight changes, the origin of Superman’s suit differs from each version. In the Earth-Two continuity, during the Golden Age of Comic Books, Superman’s suit was made out of fabric invented by himself. In contrast, in the Earth-One continuity, the suit was made by his adopted mother, Martha Kent, after discovering that the Kryptonian cloth sent with Kal-El was indestructible on Earth. However, it loses its properties, just like Superman loses his powers under a red sun.
Now, this is where this mentioned fan theory comes in. Jetsam5 is aware of the fact that Martha Kent made the Superman suit in many incarnations, but the catch is that we don’t know if the entire suit is made out of Kryptonian cloth or just a part of it. According to the theory, if the cloth isn’t big enough to make an entire suit, the bodysuit was probably made from some strong Terran fabric, while the red trunks were made from indestructible cloth.
The user also backs this theory by saying that in 1993’s iconic ‘The Death of Superman’ storyline, Superman’s suit was severely damaged in a fight against Doomsday, but Superman’s trunks stayed intact. Of course, we can always say that the trunks needed to stay intact to keep it PG-13.
After 1986’s Crisis on Infinite Earths, New Earth has taken over as the mainstream continuity of DC Comics. In this continuity, Superman’s suit is made out of Terran fabric, but the catch is that Superman’s body is charged with a bio-electric force field that radiates only a few millimeters from his skin, making the suit indestructible as his skin is. Although, the same doesn’t apply to his cape.
After Prime Earth replaced the New Earth continuity in 2011’s Flashpoint, Superman’s suit was a Kryptonian battle armor that didn’t feature red trunks. Still, in the 1000th issue of ‘Action Comics,’ published in 2018, Superman returned to his original suit with tights and red trunks. Since Superman first debuted in the legendary first issue of ‘Action Comics,’ it was a great homage to use the 1000th issue to bring Superman back to his roots.
The movie adaptations of Superman also featured different versions of the Superman suit. In the original ‘Superman’ franchise starring Christopher Reeve, the titular character wore a classic suit with red trunks, although the first movie showed that Clark got his suit at the Fortress of Solitude, where he met the projection of his biological father.
In 2013’s ‘Man of Steel,’ the character’s incarnation, played by Henry Cavill, didn’t wear red trunks, and the suit was also depicted as a Kryptonian battle armor that Jor-El gave to his son at the Scout Ship 0344, which is also known as the Fortress of Solitude in this franchise. What’s interesting is that Tyler Hoechlin’s Superman from the ‘Superman & Lois’ TV series wore red trunks on his original suit in the series’ pilot episode, and he specifically said that his mother made the original suit, while the current, updated suit, features no red trunks.
We know another Superman reboot is coming in 2025, in which David Corenswet will portray the Man of Tomorrow. The fans are already discussing if this new Superman will wear red trunks, and the movie’s writer and director, James Gunn, teased that he and his team are going over many costume designs, out of which some feature red trunks, and some don’t.
Judging by modern incarnations of the character, it seems like red trunks are now outdated, but it would be a cool homage if Corenswet’s Superman would debut with a classic suit, and then later, he can change into something more modern.
James Gunn’s ‘Superman: Legacy,’ starring David Corenswet in the titular role and Rachel Brosnahan as Lois Lane, is scheduled to open in theaters on July 11, 2025.
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