It Looks Like ‘Justice League’ Is Going To Delve Into One Of Superman’s Most Bizarre Stories

In 1992, DC took the bold step of killing off Superman. It wasn’t a trick, it wasn’t an imaginary story, Superman was dead, albeit quickly replaced by four Supermen. In our hearts, comics fans all knew the Big Blue Boy Scout wasn’t dead for good, but DC spent a good long while stringing us along about it, before bringing him back in one of his weirdest stories. And it looks like Justice League will, at least in part, be riffing on those stories.

As we mentioned yesterday, Henry Cavill revealed an all-black Superman suit on Instagram, and it’s straight out of the comics. Namely, it’s straight from “The Return of Superman,” the closing arc to an enormous year-long story arc about his death and return, also known to comics fans as “That comic where Superman was reborn out of what strongly resembles the genitalia of a Kryptonian battle suit.”

Yes, comics are weird, but that’s not even the half of it. The story starts almost exactly where Batman v Superman ends, with Superman sacrificing himself to stop Doomsday. After that, DC stopped publishing Superman comics for three months, only for the creative team of Dan Jurgens, Louise Simonson, and Roger Stern to start the books up again with four different heroes all claiming to be Superman. There was a teenager with telekinetic powers and an uncertain history; a brilliant engineer in power armor taking up the mantle; a severe Kryptonian religious zealot; and a cyborg claiming to be Superman rebuilt by Kryptonian medicine. The story then asked readers to figure out just who among the four might be the real Superman.

As you might have guessed, the ultimate twist is that none of them were Superman. In fact, it turns out that the Cyborg Superman is actually a supervillain who, in fairly short order, vaporizes the fictional Coast City as part of a plan to turn the Earth into DC’s answer to the Death Star, Warworld. That’s where the black suit Cavill showed off on Instagram comes into play, as the real Superman, weak from being reborn, finds a spare Kryptonian garment that’s black with white accents, climbs into the battlesuit, and sets off to save the day.

Ever since then, the black suit become something of a touchstone for Superman’s death and rebirth; if you see him in the black suit, it means something serious is happening. For example, when a Superman from an alternate reality was introduced into DC’s current continuity in a recent story written by Jurgens, he wore the black suit. Thankfully, the questionable mullet that debuted with the black suit has not been quite so enduring.

Obviously, Justice League won’t be trying to cram that all in; the story sprawled across an entire year across four comics, occasionally drawing in an outside hero for an adventure. Tellingly, though, the movie is arriving on the 25th anniversary of the comics debuting. We just hope, for Cavill’s sake, that Snyder was joking about putting him in the Supermullet.