When the Justice League forms in the DC Extended Universe next year, six heroes will compose the movie's initial team. Five of those characters were accounted for in the Comic-Con teaser, but it's still a mystery how Superman will join the team. The Man of Steel gave his life in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to defeat the monstrous Doomsday, but in the movie's final seconds, we saw dirt levitating above his coffin, foreshadowing his eventual return. That was enough to pay homage to Superman's momentous death in the comics over 20 years ago, but we discovered today that Justice League will call back to the aftermath of that event thanks to a costume change.
Earlier today, Henry Cavill posted a close-up picture of the familiar Superman 'S' shield, only instead of being colored normally, this costume was all black. The actor didn't provide any details, but this means that when the Kryptonian hero returns to life, he'll be garbed in this black costume. On the surface, this may just appear like an attempt to give audiences a Superman who dresses edgier, but it actually harkens back to Superman's resurrection after the Death of Superman story arc, which, just like Batman v Superman, saw Clark Kent dying to prevent Doomsday from causing more destruction. As longtime comic book readers know, death is rarely permanent in superhero worlds, and sure enough, only a year after perishing, Kal-El was resurrected thanks to The Last Son of Krypton, a.k.a. the Eradicator, putting his corpse into the Fortress of Solitude's regeneration matrix.
Superman was now back among the living, but unfortunately for him, his fight with Doomsday and the Eradicator's tampering had greatly drained his body's solar charge. Remember, Kryptonians gain their powers by taking in energy from a yellow sun. To compensate for this, Superman was given a suit that was all black (aside from silver on the shield, boots and wrist braces) that absorbed the necessary sunlight to power him up, though not to the same levels as pre-Death of Superman. It's worth noting that this black suit was only meant to heal Kal-El, and was never intended for him to fight in it. A few issues later, Superman went back to his classic red, yellow and blue costume, but it wouldn't be his last costume change of the 1990s.
Superman's black suit made another notable appearance in the 2007 animated movie Superman: Doomsday. In that adaptation, the Man of Steel almost died battling Doomsday, but never officially passed to the great beyond. When Lex Luthor's Superman clone went rogue, the real Kal-El was still weakened, so to combat his dangerous doppelgänger, he donned a black "Solar Suit" that fulfilled the same function as his comic book counterpart's. That, along with being armed with a Kryptonite gun and retaining his immeasurable will, allowed him to defeat the clone.
So what does this mean for Justice League? Well, obviously Superman will come back to life at some point during the movie, either naturally or through some process that accelerates what we saw at the end of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. However he returns, Henry Cavill's tease suggests the Man of Steel will be back in black (had to do it). If Zack Snyder is following the source material closely, then Kal-El will be significantly de-powered, and that black suit will be the only way for him to effectively join the fight against Steppenwolf and his Parademon forces. Ideally the "blackness" will only remain on his costume, as we don't need a mind-controlled Superman or one who's especially angry. As for where the suit will come from, my guess is that the abandoned Kryptonian ship will produce it, just like it provided Superman's first costume in Man of Steel.
However, don't forget that the official Justice League photo features Superman wearing his traditional costume alongside his superhero allies. While it's possible this fashion choice was only for the sake of marketing, it seems plausible that once the black suit has fulfilled its purpose, i.e. restore him to full health. Once that has happened, he'll go back to wearing his old outfit, which he'll solidly rock in 2019's Justice League 2 and the in-development Man of Steel sequel.
Superman will fly back into action when Justice League opens on November 17, 2017. If you have your own ideas about how the black suit might be used, let us know in the comments below.
Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.
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