'Man of Steel' Costume Designer Talks "Neo-Medieval" Krypton

Wednesday, 21 March 2012 11:47 Written by  Jordan DeSaulnier
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'Man of Steel' Costume Designer Talks "Neo-Medieval" Krypton

It's been awhile since we heard much from Man of Steel, the new Superman movie currently being directed by Zack Snyder.  In fact, the last thing we posted on the reboot was a picture of Henry Cavill kindly posing for a picture with a young lad whilst wearing his full Superman gear.  Two months later, there are some new, albeit bite-sized, info-nuggets on the film from the guy who designed that costume, Michael Wilkinson.

Last week, Wilkinson, whose extensive resume includes Watchmen, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, 300, TRON: Legacy, and Sucker Punch, was present at the 5D | FLUX conference at University of Southern California here in Los Angeles.  Immersed in Movies was on hand to report back some quotations from Wilkinson, speaking on a panel about world-building.

He spoke specifically about Krypton, which will be featured extensively in the retelling of Superman's origin story, saying that the production had created a "Neo-Medieval" design for the planet, and that the world-building approach included the invention of a Kryptonian language.

He confirmed what glimpses of Cavill in costume had already led pretty much everyone to conclude: In the film, the Superman costume is not an outfit sewn together by Martha Kent, but is instead a bit of native Kryptonian fashion.  “Everyone on Krypton wears this suit,” Wilkinson said of the costume.  “It has function and purpose and a logic to this fantastical world," he added.

Both of the things he's talking about here are on display in these months-old set photos of Russell Crowe smoking a cigarette in his costume as Superman's Kryptonian pop, Jor-El.  The Medieval qualities are very much in evidence in his chest and shoulder armor, but with ornate flourishes implying greater technology.  In those same pictures, you see that, beneath the armor and robe, Jor-El's clothing matches the texture of Superman's resigned costume, best seen in these set photos of Supes himself.

Wilkinson's use of "function and purpose and a logic" comes as no surprise.  Man of Steel has a story by David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan, who also serves as executive producer.  These two co-wrote Batman Begins, which Nolan of course directed.  Nolan's approach to that film and The Dark Knight has frequently been described as "realistic."  Given, however, that they're about a billionaire who dresses up as a bat to combat fear-gas wielding ninja overlords and makeup-wearing terrorists, that term is a bit inappropriate.  Instead, Nolan's Batman films strictly adhere to an internal logic, one that is recognizably grounded in our own world.  That approach of anchoring the fantastic in consistent logic is being applied to the altogether more fantastical character of Superman.

Cavill won the job of playing the new Superman/Clark Kent/Kal-El, while Amy Adams is starring alongside him as Lois Lane.  Michael Shannon is the villainous General Zod, and the rest of the cast includes the likes of Laurence Fishburne, Antje Traue, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Ayelet Zurer, Richard Schiff, Harry Lennix, and Christopher Meloni.

Man of Steel is scheduled for release on June 14, 2013.

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