MAN OF STEEL’s Zack Snyder Talks Alien Space Suits & H.R. Giger Influence


MAN OF STEEL director Zack Snyder gives us the scoop on those ultra cool Krypton space suits, (which the actors didn’t think were so awesome) and he answers our burning question about the Alien-like design.

uperman (Henry Cavill) isn’t the only one with a cool superhero suit in MAN OF STEEL. Krypton’s Jor-El (Russell Crowe), General Zod (Michael Shannon) and all Kryptonians wear the suit as an under garment that serves as a protective layer.  In the original tales of Superman, the suit was made from the cloth found on Kal-El when he landed on Earth.  Snyder and his team did away with that explanation and created their own lore around the suit.  Instead of the “S” symbolizing Superman, the S-shield now stands for a family crest from the house of El, meaning “hope.” The Kryptonian elite also bears their own glyphs.
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The MAN OF STEEL director and his team also did away with the iconic red shorts, which were included in the original designs, but with each iteration, the shorts kept getting smaller and smaller until one day they were no longer part of the costume.

The film establishes the cape as not just part of Superman’s attire, but a part of the uniform from the Krypton universe. The alien cape-wearing society isn’t as vibrant as Kal-El. Jor-El wears a very dark gray-blue cape, and Zod’s dark cape represents the darkness his planet was thrust into by its leaders.

Synder and costume designers James Acheson and Michael Wilkinson were tasked with bringing the aesthetic and heritage look of the Kryptonian universe to the suits.  In addition to the under garments worn by the Kryptonians, Jor-El and Zod’s crew wear armor, space suits and helmets. For a brief scene, Zod’s fighter pilot’s mask reminded this viewer of the Space Jockey.  CineMovie couldn’t help but notice other influences of H.R. Giger in the design. The monochromatic look of the armor and space suits were reminiscent of Giger’s early work.  The Swiss surrealist painter and sculptor helped design the visual effects for Ridley Scott’s Alien, which earned him an Academy Award.


CineMovie asked Zack at a recent press conference with the cast and filmmakers about the connection.  Zack admitted there may be some influence, but for the most part it wasn’t discussed directly for the costumes.

“We talked about it.  I don’t think directly, but because we had talked about it in the Scout ship and Krypton. And the costume designers were exposed to all the production design and so it probably seeped in.”
As cool as the suits look, Zack tells CineMovie the actors did not enjoy wearing them. He explains that underneath the space suits and armor, Russell Crowe and Michael Shannon also wore the Superman-like suit as an under garment. With two suits on top of each other, it took a little getting used to.  Henry Cavill didn’t have to wear the layers, but the foam latex bodysuit proved troublesome and not so comfortable.
“He (pointing to Henry Cavill) got used to it… I think by the end. Probably by the last day, we got it figured out. But for months…No! He wasn’t comfortable."
Man_of_Steel_movie_images2And has anyone noticed the mesh-look or as I call it “ribbed” nature on all the super hero body suits as of late from the likes of Spiderman and the space suits in Prometheus?  We asked why the universal look to the suit.
“I don’t know. I think it’s just a way not for it to be spandex.  I mean, how many options are there?

Creating the Superman suit was no easy feat with various methods used to create the metallic look.  Body scans, body sculpting and adding foam latex with special mesh to the stretchy suit were involved in bringing the suits to its brilliant chrome finish.  The mesh was applied with a custom print technique that simulated a chain mail design, while the “S” glyph was rendered through a 3D drawing program and 3D prints.

The effort paid off with unique looking costumes that compliment the production design.

MAN OF STEEL is in movie theaters June 14, 2013.


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