Costume month continues here at SUPERMANIA with this most curious clash of silver and small screen, culminating in the final appearance of a Christopher Reeve worn Super-suit and its eventual fate as restaurant decor.
After a five-year respite between their last critical and commercial failure of Supergirl in 1984 and having sold the rights to Superman in 1985, Producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind were back in the super-business with a typically ambitious venture to be shot at Disney MGM Studios in Florida – Superboy – The Series.
Importing both trusted resources and crew from the UK (among them effects guru Colin Chilvers), this left-over wardrobe from their ground-breaking Superman movies was one of a number of costume pieces to be adapted for their first foray into television.
Though not strictly canon with the Super-movies, the show would inevitably share many parallels with its big-screen incarnation, from production-values to a young lead with an uncanny resemblance to their original star. In fact, newcomer John Haymes-Newton would screentest in a complete Christopher Reeve costume (as seen in the first season DVD set) and his own costumes would be made from the same bridal-weight spandex as its predecessor. The Superboy costumes would also utilize the remaining stock of belts and capes worn in the films, the latter already having been cut shorter for Supergirl.
As the first season broadcast it became evident the one thing it didn’t share with its cinematic counterpart was the quality of its special effects and more importantly, scripts. To that end, having given a competent performance for the first 26 episodes, Newton would be replaced by less expensive/troublesome Gerard Christopher (screentesting in one of Newton’s suits) and the entire production moved to Universal Studios, Orlando.
For the remaining three seasons, Christopher would make the role his own supported by IIan Mitchell-Smith (Best remembered as Wyatt from Weird Science) as quirky comic-relief roomate Andy McCallister. For the two-parter “Bizarro – The Thing of Steel” and “The Battle with Bizzaro’ Smith as McCallister shows up for a costume party as Superboy ironically dressed in a screenused Superman suit (top pic)
Although the boots are a recycled pair of Newton’s (second pic) the costume is clearly the same Reeve suit as used in Newton’s screentest and, while faded (it was 11 years old at this point) holds up well to Christopher’s fresher incarnation (bottom pic).
In 1992 after 100 episodes, The Adventures of Superboy would end its run having left a modest mark in super-history. Many of its props and costumes would find their way into private collections but the Superman costume shown here with its colourful history would go on to enjoy a retirement displayed proudly in the Downtown Disney branch of Planet Hollywood, where, reunited with its matching boots, it would be suspended from the ceiling for years until being relocated to the lobby in a plexiglass case for thousands to enjoy…