Lois, Clark, & Costumes
Superman’s Costume in the Pilot Compared With Episode Two “Strange Visitor” and Episode Three “Neverending Battle”
As implied by the title “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” this 1990s television series has Superman 3rd on the call sheet. Which mostly works for the low television budgets they were dealing with. In the 90 minute pilot episode Clark doesn’t even become Superman until the last 15 minutes of the episode.
In this pilot we get a silly montage set to Bonnie Tyler’s We Need A Hero showcasing Clark and Martha working out the costume. We get leopard print, purple masks, green boots, a Captain America homage, then finally the classic. Martha pulls the “S” from a suitcase under the bed and explains it was in the ship when they found him. This suit’s origin comes straight from John Byrne’s Man of Steel #1 with a little bit of Superman: The Movie thrown in for good measure (the “S” being Kryptonian). It made sense for the show to adopt the current comics status quo with a nod to the most recognizable iteration of the character at that point. Side note: I love the way he walks into the living room wearing this costume for the first time. It’s a completely different walk than he did as Clark; which to me says Cain was really feeling that costume.
This costume feels homemade—they even use the “my mom made it” line which we get again in Superman for All Seasons and the new Superman & Lois. The “S” looks like it is made of felt. This sets the costume apart from the live action versions that came before. Allen, Reeves, Reeve, Newton, and Christopher all had their shields as part of the tunic, sewn directly in. The cape attaches to the back of the collar and can drape over the shoulders or be back behind them, which I quite like. Reminiscent of the Reeve costume but a little thinner. The collar is high and round like a crew neck t-shirt. My assumption is this is an off-the-rack leotard. The boots he ends up with are tall and lace up the front. Again, my assumption is the costume department probably found something off the shelf rather than making it custom. It was just a pilot.
Episode two “Strange Visitor” gives us a brand new costume. I couldn’t find any information on how long after the pilot was finished the series started filming. I imagine once they got the series order and a budget they needed several costumes for filming. For those watching along at home Superman only shows up around minute 39 of the 45 minute runtime. It is interesting this episode two costume still looks different than the style they went with for the rest of the series. I imagine they were working out the kinks on tight deadlines. For this version we get a much bigger “S” going down to his belly button. It’s no longer the plain felt of the pilot but a shinier material like the costume; close to what they would end up with as the standard. The shield is way too big here even if the fabric is brighter. The cape is attached to his shoulders in a way that reminds me of how Hoechlin’s original Supergirl-era cape attached, just without the bars. The shoulders of the cape are heavily padded which makes it look cheap. Looks almost like it is hot glued on and would fall off with a tug. The collar is lower showing part of Cain’s chest. We don’t get a great look at the boots, but it appears they’ve done away with the front laces. This just isn’t a great costume. I’m glad it doesn’t stick around for long.
In episode three we get two different costumes. For the scenes around Metropolis we get the same costume from the previous episode. But there is the scene with Luthor where he demonstrates his ability to bend steel in his bare hands and that he is faster than a speeding bullet. For these scenes we get the suit that would be the standard Lois & Clark costume. The collar is a bit higher, the cape attaches similarly to the pilot and the shield is a bit smaller. The shininess of this costume plus the classic stylings make it a favorite of mine, but that could be my nostalgia for the show talking. My Halloween 1993 costume (which my mom made) looks a lot like the Lois & Clark suit.
Update Jan 5, 12,022-I rewatched this episode yesterday. There is a moment when Clark is on the phone with Ma and Pa and he thanks Ma for the new cape. When we see Superman next—demonstrating his powers to Luthor—he has that new cape. Strangely the later Superman scenes still have the old cape. Continuity!
I wonder if this costume was the inspiration for the other embossed “S” shields we start getting in the mid-2000s. Superman Returns (costume debut in April 2005) obviously went heavily in that direction with a hard plastic shield. A month before that reveal we had Lee Bermejo’s art in Lex Luthor: Man of Steel with a more 3 dimensional shield. This is the first one I can personally remember in the comics.
On a blog status note, this is my first post here on the new miraclemonday.co. Rewatching Lois & Clark on HBO Max (in HD for the first time) I wanted to talk about the costume a bit. I also thought it fit in with the last post I saved from the previous incarnation of the site. My plan is to write a new post every Monday on some little Superman minutia gone over in excruciating detail.