Superman III / Superman’s Bodysuit (Christopher Reeve)
(Warner Bros., 1983) Superman first appeared in Action Comics #1 (June 1938) and subsequently appeared in various radio serials, television programs, films, newspaper strips, and video games. With the success of his adventures, Superman helped to create the superhero genre and establish its primacy within the American comic book. In the late 70’s, Christopher Reeve became the embodiment of the Man of Steel. Though he had predecessors, his name became synonymous for the Man from Krypton, sent to Metropolis to protect Earth. In 1995, with the tragic announcement of Chris Reeve’s spinal injury from a horse accident, rendering him paralyzed in a wheelchair, fans’ ongoing hope of Mr. Reeve once again donning the suit were shattered. As a result, Chris Reeve’s Superman costumes have become one of the most sought after artifacts in film history. As witnessed in the fine arts world, it did not take long for the forgers to see an opportunity and today, several fake suits, manufactured long after filming – yet copied from the real thing, therefore identical – are known to have ended up in private collections, sold as “originals”. Many of the die-hard collectors are aware of that fact, which naturally makes a purchase choice in today’s market a rather difficult one, especially since hardly any of the suits documented in public sales seemed to be accompanied by any meaningful provenance. In fact, the standard “COA” often reads that the suit was given to “x” person by an employee from the costume department with no direct link that would allow tracing it back to a credible or indisputable source.
ScreenUsed is proud to offer a rare original Christopher Reeve Superman bodysuit with his trademark belt, accompanied by an actual Certificate of Authenticity direct from Warner Brothers Studios. To the best of our knowledge, this is the only original Superman costume ever to be released to the public with full Warner Brothers Archives sanctioning. The studio’s unique DNA encoding system allows for matching the suit with its corresponding COA at any given time, eliminating the risk of the valuable and authenticating paperwork ever being matched up with a replicated body-suit. To adequately display the suit, it was dressed on a custom muscular ‘heroic’ mannequin with custom sculpted Christopher Reeve head (painted in silky white to direct the emphasis towards the suit, not the sculpture) and completed with a replicated set of cape and boots. Superman’s appearance is distinctive and iconic, making this costume instantly recognizable the world over.
Currently offered in auction by Screenused.com this excellent piece from Superman III represents a first in authentication technology – although exactly what it is and how its achieved remains unclear.
As acknowledged by the outstanding description above, the market has been saturated by fakes (some better rendered than others) but all with corresponding paperwork with ‘legitimate’ correspondence easily capable of fooling the casual fan in to spending thousands. Prevalent throughout the nineties, it is unknown just how many of these copies are still out there pertaining to be the real thing. In fairness to the buyer, there was very little out there for reference as a basis for comparison until the last decade where access to genuine costumes was kindly made available (by the likes of the Propstore.com etc.) where extensive research and studies could be made for a definitive guide to what makes Yvonne Blake’s creation quite so Super.
Thankfully there are now sites committed to policing the web to ensure the consumer is not being fooled auction by auction as they become available. The best of these by far is Jason DeBord’s Original Prop Blog, where the dissection of every listing (right down to the fabric weave) caters for your every authentication concern. For those wanting a more exhaustive overview may I recommend SUPERMANIA’s very own essay on the costume found right here on the incomparable Capedwonder.com.
Revolutionary and genuine as the lot here is, however, its not all good news. While the bodysuit looks to be in fantastic condition (studio labelled throughout – even the belt – noting Reeve was a 36″ waist at the time of filming) the overall display does it little justice. Mounted on what looks to be a plain white basic shop display mannequin (lacking anywhere close to Reeve’s height or proportions) with a cast of Howard Senft’s stylised Reeve bust added painted to match, the obvious reproduction boots and cape, while completing the costume, seem to undermine the legitimacy of the production-made pieces.
Whomever the lucky new owner is, SUPERMANIA’s advice would be to remount the bodysuit as is (while binning the repro gear) or at least reinvesting in sharp new pieces from either Super Costumes or Action Costumes for a closer match…