Quick question: what would you say is the most iconic piece of clothing Superman has ever worn? Most fans would surely go for his classic red and blue suit, while others might prefer the black suit and the questionable mullet from the 90s. However, there’s one article of clothing hidden in the back of Clark Kent’s wardrobe that might actually be Superman’s favourite garment: a plaid jacket.
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A little-known fact about this piece of clothing is that it has appeared in virtually every live-action version of the Man of Steel since the days of Christopher Reeve. From his heroic portrayal to the dashing Henry Cavill’s modern-day rendition, the red plaid jacket has become an integral part of Superman’s secret identity.
But why has this fashion choice endured through the ages? Perhaps it’s a secret code that signifies the wearer’s dedication to truth, justice, and impeccable style! Or maybe that’s just what most people in Kansas wear all the time. Whatever the case, we can’t deny that while the red cape and blue suit might be Superman’s uniform, the plaid jacket might be Clark Kent’s insignia.
From a semiotic point of view, having an everyman like Clark Kent wearing the most inconspicuous garment ever created is just plain genius. The plaid jacket embodies Kent’s simple lifestyle before he moved to Metropolis – and might also be an indicator of the fact that he never left his roots behind.
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Considering his upbringing, wearing such a mundane – but still awesome-looking – jacket would also allow Clark to blend better with his peers. It’s the same tactic he’d later employ while working at the Daily Planet, only with a jacket instead of glasses.
Why has every live-action Clark Kent worn the same outfit? Well, that might actually be a matter of convenience rather than anything else. In the realm of superhero storytelling, maintaining visual consistency across different iterations is crucial.
A character’s costume becomes a recognizable symbol, allowing audiences to instantly connect with the hero they know and love. By having every live-action Clark Kent wear the same red plaid jacket, producers ensure a visual continuity that reinforces the audience’s familiarity with the character. It’s a subtle way of saying, “This is Clark Kent, no matter who portrays him!“
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On the other hand, the significance of Christopher Reeves’ performance as the Man of Steel cannot be overstated. Virtually every live-action version of the character has been inspired by Reeves’ iconic portrayal, so having them replicate some of his wardrobe choices seems like a safe bet.
The truth is that this simple plaid jacket embodies everything Clark Kent stands for – just as Superman’s iconic insignia does. He’s an everyman, but that doesn’t mean that he’d just stand aside and turn a blind eye to injustice: he’s the embodiment of the common man’s fight for justice, and what better way to show that than having him wearing one of the most average garments from small-town America?
On the other hand, maybe the directors just thought that the red plaid jacket look was a nice alternative to Superman’s predominantly red clothes. Still, it’s curious that an inconspicuous jacket has managed to stir the world of comic book live-action adaptations. For now, all that’s left is to wait and see David Corenswet inevitably wear the jacket in Superman: Legacy.
Did you ever notice the plaid jacket that Superman is always wearing?