A cape worn by Christopher Reeve in his portrayal of Superman for the production of the film Superman III (Warner Bros. Pictures, 1983).
The third film features one of the most popular sequences in all of the Superman films, when Superman fights himself as “Dark Superman” in a junkyard. The original title of the movie was Superman Vs. Superman, which was based on stories seen in the Superman comic books.
The Superman cape and costume were originally adapted for the big screen by Academy Award winning costume designer Yvonne Blake based upon the costume worn by Superman depicted in the comic book drawings of Joe Shuster, who together with writer Jerry Siegel, co-created the mythological hero, who debuted on the cover of Action Comics #1 (dated June 1938 but published on April 18th, 1938.) Blake’s talents designing the costumes for Superman: The Movie and it’s blockbuster sequel Superman: II would be an important part of the Superman costuming lineage in all of the subsequent sequel films.
Originally the Superman costume was to feature a Hollywood style “muscle suit” to simulate a muscular physique beneath its fabric. Reeve’s professionalism and commitment to the film and its attempts at authenticity resulted in the young actor refusing to wear one and engaging in a strict exercise routine under the supervision of British champion bodybuilder David Prowse, known for his portrayal of “Darth Vader” in Star Wars – A New Hope (Lucasfilm Ltd., 1977.) Reeve added 30 lbs. of muscle to his frame in just 6 weeks, going from 188 lbs., to 218 lbs. during the movie’s pre-production and filming.
The classic yellow Superman “S” symbol is fixed to a wool gabardine red cape and features a thin black border which is formed by zig-zag stitching. Visible on the exterior of the cape are red fabric ties that secure the cape around the user’s neck. The red fabric appears worn from use. On the interior of the neck region, cotton padding with a cloth backing and a fabric strap secure the cape to the user’s shoulders. Additionally, four black metal snaps adorn the shoulder region. Wardrobe Assistants would help to secure the cape to bodysuits, which would begin by attaching the cape at the metal snaps near the neck.
The shoulders on this example are padded so that the cape would sit properly on Reeve’s shoulders during filming.
This particular example features a stitched tag at the neck that reads, “C. Reeve/ Col/ Normal/ No.2/ Walking/ (1982).” The year indicated on the cape’s tag would suggest that it was developed for the production of the third film in the Superman series.
In multiple places, hand-written text indicates that this cape was fabricated for walking scenes, and does not feature cut slits or the inner workings that were used to make some examples appear as if they were flying. Bermans & Nathans would indicate on the tag of each cape whether it was designed to be used in walking or flying scenes. The latter of which was wider.
This particular example is in beautiful, vintage condition. With limited aging, production wear and handling etc. as shown in the accompanying photo images.
Superman is considered the archetype of the classic superhero. Although there are fictional characters in comic books and pulp magazines, who also fit this definition, Superman captured the imagination of American comic book readers, popularized the superhero genre and firmly established its conventions. Superman was the best-selling American superhero comic from its inception until the 1980’s. And crossed over into other forms of mainstream media including radio serials, novels, television series, and the theater.
Includes a DVD of the film.