Trading Places…

Featured in the newest site of The London Film museum, Covent Garden is currently playing host to a treasure trove of cinematic artifacts including a rare opportunity to see the above as part of the Magnum On Set collection.

Originally on loan from the Propstore of London, this incredible exhibit was first unveiled in the County Hall site on the South Bank in 2010 (see my archived post) before being withdrawn some months later.

In the intervening years, however, there has been a curious revision that prompted a trip to view the display up close once again.  Whereas the costume in County Hall was successfully screen-matched to specific scenes of both Superman: The Movie and Superman II, it was evident the costume tunic had been switched out for one arguably more instantly recognisable.

To clarify, all the Superman costumes were handmade and therefore share particular quirks as none were 100% the same.  This costume, however, can be matched to a specific scene in Luthor’s Lair in Superman: The Movie and is clearly identifiable (despite two differing tunics being used in the same scene!) besides being used in promotional material (most notably in the Topps trading card sets as shown in the comparison above.  The key identifier is the unique shape of the yellow triangle at the base of the chest shield giving the bottom curve of the \S/ its shape.

Quite why the top has been switched out is a mystery (as this is clearly a much older piece rightly showing its age and not a colour match to the tights) and there has clearly been amendments to the mannequin’s padding, making the body visibly more slender than before.  The rest of the exhibit attributes (cape, boots, belt, etc.) appear unchanged.

The exhibition is in its closing weeks now so if you have an opportunity to go and see this genuine piece of Movie history I can’t recommend it highly enough.  Vintage Superman costumes are becoming more rare in the public domain and it is unlikely we will ever see their kind (with such accurate provenance) again.

Further reading about the specifics of Christopher Reeve’s Superman costume will be available in the coming weeks with a updated version of my detailed analysis featured on the incomparable where an extensive gallery of both the Propstore displays can be found…

UPDATE 12/09: Official Propstore feature on this piece here

(comparison pic courtesy of & Chris King)


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