One of the persistent rumors in the run-up to Justice League was that Superman would return from the dead wearing the black Kryptonian recovery suit introduced during the "Reign of the Supermen" storyline in the comics. It made sense, given that "Reign" followed the "Doomsday!: The Death of Superman" arc, which was the basis for the bloody battle in the final moments of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but it didn't happen. Fans were split on the issue, since it's a cool suit, and was teased in Man of Steel, which made omitting it feel like a missed opportunity. Still, Snyder's Superman was always being criticized for being dark and colorless, and the black suit only made those complaints visible.
Now that Zack Snyder's Justice League will return the filmmaker's original vision for the DC team-up film to life, the black suit is back. During an appearance on a YouTube series, Snyder was quizzed on what it means.
"I really was always very strong advocate for the black suit," Snyder told Comic Book Debate on YouTube. "I really wanted the black suit; it made sense for me because...Superman is a character notoriously who does not grow. He is like a rock and everything just smashes against him. And we learn about ourselves by trying to change a thing that's unchangeable. That's really the old way, the old Superman, whereas I felt like my Superman had to, at every step, sort of level up and learn something, and be something different, because in the end, the idea or what I had planned was that the final step for Superman, [was] his real return, or his real coming into what I would consider the classic Superman. We don't really get it in this movie, the classic Superman. I also feel like the black suit is a great time delineator. So if you see a flashback or a flash-forward, him in the black suit lets you know where you are in tine because it's very particular to this certain arc. So I always was excited about using the black suit to kind of lock us in to when he goes form the black suit back to the red and blue suit, and then when he's in the red and blue suit what that means, and when eh actually goes back to it, what does it mean?"
You can see the video below.
That costume, which first appeared in 1993's "Reign of the Supermen!," has fascinated fans since it first appeared and has been riffed on, experimented with, and redone a couple of times since, in spite of the fact that it was created for a single, specific story.
The actual costume, which was designed by then-Superman: The Man of Steel artist Jon Bogdanove, first appeared in Action Comics #689, featuring art by Jackson "Butch" Guice.
"We were always looking for big stories to do with Superman and those usually involved the idea of changing up the status quo in some way," Jurgens told ComicBook.com during an interview last year. "We had discussed the general idea of a costume change...back when we brought him back from the dead, of course. That was part of the inspiration for the all-black costume."
Later stories, including some in the main continuity, some in places like Batman Beyond and in alternate universes during Countdown to Final Crisis, incorporated versions of the costume, and it has made its way into toys and merchandise for years. Man of Steel had a brief nightmare sequence in which Superman saw himself wearing it while standing on a mountain of skulls.
Snyder had completed an "assembly cut" -- a rough cut of the film that's barely edited, but mostly just all the footage shot so far, strung together into an outrageously long version of the movie -- when his daughter passed away. Shortly after that, the film was taken over by Marvel's The Avengers director Joss Whedon, who slashed much of Snyder's content and replaced it with reshoots that clashed wildly with Snyder's footage in tone and look.
The resulting movie was a mess, and moviegoers and critics punished it for a lack of direction. While Snyder's grounded, violent approach to superhero movies had drawn criticism from some fans and underperformed relative to the massive expectations set by movies like The Dark Knight and The Avengers, they turned a modest profit and managed to get the next movie, and then the next, greenlit. The franchise effectively stopped dead with Justice League, which didn't make remotely close to its money back, and felt like a case of trying to please everyone, but compromising and instead pleasing no one.
The movie will get another shot with Zack Snyder's Justice League, which is expected to debut on HBO Max in March.