5 Reasons Why Superman Needs Those Red Undies Back

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Let’s get one thing straight: I am not your average New 52 nitpicker. Like anyone, I think it was incredibly wasteful to throw out so much established continuity for the sake of convenient jumping on points, but you won’t find me complaining about the Justice League’s high Victorian era collars, Wally West’s new racial makeup, or even the fact that Tim Drake has those stupid mechanical wings.

However, there’s one thing that really irks me: Superman’s missing red undies.

I’m sorry, but not only are those briefs the most iconic underpants in all of pop culture, but they are an inescapable part of who Superman is. Let me list the reasons:

5. Too Much Blue!

supermanredesign

I know he’s fondly known by his fans and detractors (mainly Frank Miller worshippers) as the “Big Blue Boy Scout,” but there is such a thing as too much blue spandex. I mean, these days he looks like a big blue blob, which was a great look for the Tick, but not for our Man of Steel.

His red belt is insufficient for breaking up the blue, and seems tacked on as an afterthought, a placeholder for the red briefs that should be there.

4. Superman Isn’t Cool

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I suspect the main motivation behind Superman’s brief-less makeover is to make him look cool. Well, Superman’s not supposed to be cool, that’s Batman’s job. Don’t get me wrong, Superman’s my personal favorite, but that’s because he’s unabashedly idealistic and compassionate, which are not very fashionable qualities. Arriving on earth, Kal-El became equal parts Superman and the dorky Clark Kent, and we love him for that.

It’s no coincidence that Man of Steel, the first live action movie to feature a brief-less Superman had a Clark Kent that looked like a J. Crew model.

3. Honesty

Action_comics__s_Superman_by_JoshTempleton

The briefs are a metaphor. Superman wears everything on the outside because, secret identity aside, he has nothing to hide. This is also why, unlike so many of his colleagues, he refuses to wear a mask. Mark Waid drives this point home in his Superman: Birthright series. Clark eloquently explains to his parents why his superhero costume shouldn’t include a mask: “If I want people to trust me, they’ll have to be able to see my face.” Superman just lets it all hang out. His briefs and emotions are the same thing!

2. Modesty

romita

First thing I noticed about Superman’s new look, beautifully illustrated by the great John Romita Jr., is how smooth he is below the belt. Now I’m not a man who fears other men’s bulges: immersing myself in the world of cosplay has beaten that out of me. I understand that some artists would shy away from depicting Superman’s nether contours, but you can’t tell me that the same fabric that would cling so tightly to his lower ribs would completely obscure his package. If Superman were to have some briefs of a different color and perhaps different material, I would more easily accept a lack of any visible bulge.

1. It’s the Classic Superhero Look


00_Action1_Cover

When I was little and wanted to look like a superhero, I always did two things: first I tied a towel around my neck like a cape, and then I would pull some tighty whiteys over whatever pants I was wearing.

The argument some people make for Superman losing the red undies is that it’s an archaic look for circus strong men that performed around the time Action Comics #1 was first released. That’s all fine and good, but now wearing trunks over tights brings with it a new association: the costume of a superhero. And as pop culture’s original superhero, doesn’t it just make sense for Superman to sport this timeless look?

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About Author

Paul de Vries

Paul de Vries was raised by a pack of wild Dutch immigrants in pastoral Western Massachusetts. Having trouble connecting with the other kids in his neighborhood, he sought refuge in Greek Mythology. As he matured, superheroes started replacing gods and now he observes each new comic book day religiously. He currently lives in New York City where he performs stand up comedy.

  • Revered

    Those reasons don’t sound like much other than “Because I want them back, because nostalgia and stuff.” They tried to modernize him by taking the tights away, which I can agree with a bit. But naturally people want to fight it because of how long he has had them.

    • Ron

      What? There shouldn’t be any reason other than “because I want them back…” … His reasons are legit, justified, perfectly fine, etc.

      • Guest

        His reasons are not legit… he sounds like a guy living in the past. See my comments on how I broke everything down. This article was dumb and just his opinion.

        • Elias Algorithm

          If your reader has been reading the books and the company makes a giant jump that works for a while but fizzles out, is it really wise to belittle the one reader who stuck with it and hopes for the best? New 52 was a blip but it fizzled out. It has new fans and that’s great but you have to look at the pattern. If they turned their back on us…

          “I liked how I felt with you warm at night in winter but this guy does this thing with his tongue so find yourself a new stooge”

          • Guest

            Right right… the new 52 fizzled because of a pair of trunks… okaaayyyy

        • Mike Magnum

          Well Guess what the Pre-Flashpoint Superman is back and so are his red Turks.

    • Xavier

      so what’s the problem with that? take away the shield from Captain America, take away all the classic outfits of all our classic superheroes, like Wonder Woman, Batman, etc, etc, etc… and we’ll have NEW superheroes, not the real ones. Rebooted, with new “values” and whatever some people want.

      • Guest

        Captain America with no shield it’ still Capt America….Batman and Wonder Woman do not wear their “classic” outfits.. what’s your point?

  • Guest

    This is the dumbest article on Superman I have read in a while… lets break them down.

    5-Too Much Blue!- That’s like saying Batman has too much black. Per this logic let’s just give Batman his blue trunks back because his yellow belt is insufficient for breaking up the black…. He looks like a Big Black blob right?. whatever.

    4-Superman Isn’t Cool- Superman IS cool he flies and shoots the sun out of his eyes- Next

    3-Honesty- I didn’t know wearing your underwear in the outside was a sign of Honesty… Per that logic Darkseid must be an honest man, because , Metaphor.

    2-Modesty- I don’t know why the 1st thing a man does when looking at Superman is look at his package… whatever, equality I get it , but still , weird. I am sure this effect has nothing to do with his under wear but Romita’s style. Again, I use Batman as an example on the second picture, I guess his lack of package must be because of him not wearing his blue undies on the outside.. hmmmm

    1-It’s the Classic Superhero Look- oh then lets undo all the changes to 80% of superheroes in the last 20 years,

    • Elias Algorithm

      But clearly leaving it isn’t working enough to gain any real new fanbase. He’s still getting the same moronic crap he always had. What’s the point in trying to fit a character for people who refuse to even try to like him at the cost of people who already do?

      • Guest

        I love Superman, has been collecting and reading his comics for 40 years,…. I have NO problem with the lack of trunks… NONE!

        • Elias Algorithm

          That’s fine and good to know you, brother. I just don’t see the point in trying to make him adhere to a crowd that won’t even look.

          I like JR Jr but when I see his art on Superman I just see some kid cosplaying Superman. I don’t see Superman. Outside of Adventures of when it was continuity be damned shorts, THAT was Superman.

          • Guest

            I agree with you that JRjr should not draw Superman he is more suited for Marvel….. Still the trunks need to be permanently burned and forgotten. Plus , old guys like me.. we are all dying soon…kids don’t want trunks.

            Before New 52 I remember EVERYBODY used to make fun of his trunks…. everybody… now is the other way around.

    • Guest

      Oh and I totally forgot this little nugget.

      “I’t’s no coincidence that Man of Steel, the first live action movie to feature a brief-less Superman had a Clark Kent that looked like a J. Crew model.

      Right right, I forgot Christopher Reeves or Brandon Routh didn’t look like J.Crew models.. not at all.

    • I prefer the above version. That’s Batman.

  • Aarren

    Let me counter all these points:

    5. Too much blue? What about the big honking red cape? He used to have the red piping but people complained about that and his armored look. Now we’re back to spandex light and people are still griping. What about thegianormous S that is supposed to be his symbol. Not his underwear.

    4. Superman isn’t cool? Since when? Batman’s job is to strike fear into the hearts of evil men (and non-evil incidentally) Superman’s job is to inspire. Not be mocked for poor fashion choices.

    3. Wearing your underwear is a sign of honest? Then Madonna, every Abercrombie and Fitch model as well as street hood showing ‘swag’ is an honest soul. His mask free uniform as stated is a symbol of his honesty (which is also an argument since he HAS a secret ID). Not because it looks like he got dressed so fast he forgot the order in which his garments are put on. Or the fact he’s so honest he feels the need to show the world no, he’s not going commando.

    2. Modesty? One might think that modesty is having your under on the inside. As for package definition? People cried foul on Dr. Manhattan in the Watchmen movie. Now there was a big blue that needed undies.

    1. Classic Superhero look? I guess, the Flash is wrong, or Captain America, Or Spiderman, Or Green Lantern? No one complained when GL moved away from the unitard look, or Thor who hasn’t rocked briefs in a long time. No one complained about Hawkeye losing the skirt, or Hulk eventually losing the purple paints. Even during the New 52, the outcry wasn’t as near as this when people talked about Batman’s uniform, or again Flash or the mutton chops on Aquaman.

    If people complained this much for every change Superman went and feedback was heeded? He would have never progressed from the arrogant jerk running around in strappy sandals standing up to bullets but dodging the guns thrown at him. Which case, he would have been a forgotten relic of the golden age.

  • Rick Diehl

    Man do I love the fanboys in the comments getting their red brief panties in a bunch for you wanting Superman to return to his classic look. I for one agree with you pretty much 100%, but I’ve got no problem with people not agreeing, but wow, talk about nerds overreacting a bit too much.

    • Guest

      Ironic.. a meathead nerd complaining about nerds

      • Rick Diehl

        It’s cool, I embrace my inner (and outer) nerd. I just get a kick out of people getting totally worked up about trunks. It appeals to me.

  • Paul de Vries

    I forgot to mention that the briefs could come in handy when holding things like car keys. You know, since the costume doesn’t have pockets.

    • Guest

      Traditionally Superman keeps his “keys” on a hidden pocket on his cape…so.. trunks are not needed for that sorry

  • Guest

    TRUNK. Their not undies and briefs, but Trunks, is what it’s actually called. A big difference. Those that chose to not acknowledge the ideals and show a degree of disrespect about it, as a long time fan, not only offends me and pisses me off to no end and is a smack in the face. And those people are not superman fans if that ever be the case.But I do agree on this. See, the Trunks is a tribute to the strongman, it helps balance colors out and puts a good gap between the blue. it pays tribute to the strongman, and it represents courage, masculinity and heroism. And if you take all that always, you get nothing more but an empty void. It’s like going to work without your shoes on. I mean, it’s true that a hero is defined by the things he says, how he portrays his persona and how he/she performs heroic deeds. BUT! It is the outfit alone that helps give the hero the ability to stand out. That’s why the trunks, let alone the traditional outfit is so important. It proved it has stood the test of time, proving it to become UNIVERSAL. How the hell do you thing it’s survived for so long. That says a lot. And if that wasn’t so, the traditional outfit, let alone the trunks would have been gone a long time ago. My saying is, respect the trunks, respect superman 😉

    • Guest

      F that. I could say they same thing about Batman. Trunks need to go, it’s 2015

      • Bret Percy

        Look Ma! He can type with no brains!

        • Matt Laidlaw

          So can you but no one is throwing a party over it either. 😝

  • Anthony Pilone

    TRUNK actually lol But yes I do agree. Those that chose to not acknowledge any of the ideals of what it’s all about and show a degree of disrespect about it, as a long time fan, not only offends me and pisses me off to no end and is a smack in the face. And those people are not superman true fans if that ever be the case. The Trunks is Legendary and so iconic. It helps balance colors out and puts a good gap between the blue. it pays tribute to the strongman, and it represents courage, masculinity and heroism and nobility and I believe those are the same ideas that should be continued to be paid in tribute, with honor with respect. And if you take all that away, you get nothing more but an empty void. It’s like going to work without your shoes on. I mean, it’s true that a hero is defined by the things he says, how he portrays his persona and how he/she performs heroic deeds. BUT! It is the outfit alone that helps give the hero the ability to stand out. That’s why the trunks, let alone the traditional outfit is so important. It proved it has stood the test of time, proving it to become UNIVERSAL. How the hell do you thing it’s survived for so long. That says a lot. And if that wasn’t so, the traditional outfit, let alone the trunks would have been gone a long time ago. My saying is, respect the trunks, respect superman

  • Jeffery Sargent

    Re: Superman’s red trunks – Compositionally speaking, I prefer the red trunks for much the same reason as you do – breaking up the blue. It adds balance. And the modesty thing is literally why circus gymnasts and the like (which was the inspiration for his costume, including the trunks and cape) used to wear trunks on the outside. 1) It breaks up the expanse of color in that area, making certain anatomical realities less apparent. With a solid color from above and below, stretched tight across that area, you notice the bulge more. 2) It added a thickness of cloth over the area, again, making the anatomy less visible.

  • Willian Magnoni

    1 reason to not use this ridiculous underwear, we are in 2016.

    • Mike Magnum

      Well were in May of 2016 and the New 52 Superman is now dead. And Post-Crisis Superman is coming back. Probably his horrible red trunks too. Besides all the blue makes him look like hes wearing pajama. All New52 Superman needs is his teddy bear and he will already for bedy bye time.

  • Bret Percy

    Here’s the thing. It’s REALLY hard to get behind a change like this with New 52 because of this:

    This look has been classic for seventy years. Yeah people like to make a crack about it for fun, but it’s never been anything more than a good natures ribbing that actually gives the character a bit more personality. So that has to go.

    On the other hand, they kill off Lian Harper. An incredibly beloved character who put her father in an interesting position of being a single dad super hero. They killed her off to make him a generic anti-hero. And all the fans hated it, there was massive out cry… and the thing people straight up hate gets to not only stay, but they double down on it and make Lian never exist and pair Roy up with even more boring and generic anti-hero Jason Todd.

    So the thing people liked to have a good natured gag about every so often has to go… but the thing everyone was booing and was hoping would be undone by the New 52 gets to stay? See even if the outfit looked good, which it doesn’t, does this SOUND like DC knows what it’s doing?