It's a Bird. It's a Plane.

The New Superman Look Gets One Thing Right About The Man of Steel

Here's what David Corenswet's Ka-El looks like and why it's great.

Superman, played by American actor Christopher Reeve (1952 - 2004), holds a green crystal at the For...
Silver Screen Collection/Moviepix/Getty Images

What is Superman supposed to be like? How is he supposed to make us feel? In the days since Christopher Reeve’s reign as Ka-El ended in 1987’s Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, there’s been a shifting sense in the zeitgeist as to how this iconic hero should be portrayed on the silver screen. In the 2006 film Superman Returns, Brandon Routh’s Supe was a serviceable imitation of Reeve, only this time, as a deadbeat super-dad. In the Zack Snyder-verse, Henry Cavill’s take on Superman was more brooding, casting the Man of Steel as a vengeful god, who might turn on us at any second.

But now, with a new James Gunn-directed Superman film coming in 2025 starring David Corenswet in the title role, it seems the tone of the film will hit a sweet spot we’ve been missing in the movies for almost 40 years.

First image of David Corenswet as Superman

On Instagram, James Gunn and David Corenswet dropped the first image of Superman as he’ll appear in the upcoming movie previously titled Superman: Legacy, but is now just called Superman. The photo depicts the new Superman sitting in a normal chair, presumably in his apartment in Metropolis, pulling on his boots, having a contemplative moment before flying into action. This Superman has a higher collar than some might be used to, reminiscent of the way Superman’s suit appeared in DC Comics New 52 relaunch back in 2011.

But, crucially, this Superman is literally, and figuratively, grounded. Back in the Christopher Reeve era, part of the appeal of Superman was that as Clark Kent, he really was a jobbing reporter, doing his best to get by in Metropolis, living among humankind, as a humble protector. The Cavill films touched on this idea, but in those films, we never got the sense that Supe was a down-to-earth guy. Here, with one simple image, Corenswet’s Superman seems humbler than his immediate predecessor.

On TV, Superman has tended to be more of an average Joe: From Tom Welling in Smallville to Tyler Hoechlin in Superman & Lois, a slightly more realistic take on Clark Kent has seemed to work. This isn’t to say that James Gunn is taking a cue directly from TV versions of the Man of Steel, but the relatability of Superman is, strangely, key to the longevity of the character.

Obviously, relating to Superman’s actual circumstances is impossible, which is part of the challenge of making good, and compelling Superman films. Starting in 1978, Christopher Reeve pulled this off precisely because he played Clark Kent almost thoroughly as he played Supe. It’s hard to say yet if Corenswet’s take will be aligned with that sensibility, but this first image is certainly a flying leap in the right direction.

Superman hits theaters on July 11, 2025.

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