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Friday, 31 August, 2001, 10:15 GMT 11:15 UK
Superman drops pants for TV show
Kristin Kreuk, Tom Welling and Michael Rosenbaum from Smallville
Tom Welling (centre) plays Clark Kent in the new series
Superman is going casual for his latest TV appearance - and swapping his cape and tights for a pair of jeans.

Scriptwriters Alfred Gough and Miles Millar have written a Superman series to be shown on the US Warner Bros network this autumn, featuring the new outfit.

They have said young viewers cannot sympathise with a superhero wearing underpants over his tights.

Kristin Kreuk, Tom Welling and Michael Rosenbaum from Smallville
Full-length version: Tights and pants are out, jeans are in
The series, called Smallville, will tell the story of Clark Kent's life after his journey from the planet Krypton to a small American town, where he is now a high school pupil - but not yet a public superhero.

The new Superman "does things surreptitiously'', Mr Gough told the Los Angeles Times.

"People don't know that he's going around saving people," he said.


Nothing really compares to that costume - nothing is as recognisable

Bradford Wright, comic historian
In the show the hero is just another teenager, plagued with acne and wanting to go out with girls.

He will be wearing a work shirt and jeans, not the tight-fitting costume and red cape which he has sported since he was created in 1938.

The writer-producers said that they needed to recast the figure as a conventional, geeky high school student because the famous costume was "cheesy".

"For us, we wanted a new interpretation," Mr Miller told the paper.

"We thought, strip it away, and you could really get inside Clark Kent. We've never seen Clark Kent as a real person.

Superman
Superman first donned his tights in 1938
"He's like a freak - it's puberty with super powers."

Support for the new look has come from Michael Uslan, executive producer of the Batman series of films, who said that teenagers were not longer interested in capes and tights.

"For today's generation, unlike the baby boomers, the most important thing about the hero is what's going on inside them, their motivations and characterization," said Mr Uslan.

But the move has left many Superman fans puzzled and angry.

American basketball star Shaquille O'Neal, who wears a Superman tattoo, said: "My question is: How can people determine who Superman is?

"That's crazy."

'Recognisable'

And comic historian Bradford Wright said: "Nothing really compares to that costume.

"Not Santa Claus' red suit or the Elvis jumpsuit- nothing is as recognisable."

It is not the first time that Superman has endured an image makeover.

In 1998 his creators DC Comics briefly experimented with a new look in which he had stylish long hair, metallic red and blue outfits - and no cape.

The experiment was terminated after a lukewarm reception.

See also:

11 Jul 01 | TV and Radio
Dan Dare sets course for TV stardom
22 Jan 00 | Entertainment
Superman boost for Dome
06 Aug 99 | Europe
Superman to the rescue
06 Sep 99 | Entertainment
Batman's dark past
03 Mar 98 | Americas
Superman gets his cape back
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