|"Smallville Season 11"|
Most significantly, no red shorts.
And I'm looking at it, and I'm thinking, well, this is actually fine. It looks like Superman.
|"New 52" Superman|
The shorts may have been somewhat of an anachronism; they've been explained as the result of superhero outfits being drawn from acrobat uniforms, breaking up the lines of the human underneath, and yes, drawing attention away from any indecent bulges that may or may not arise from, ahem, sensitive anatomy. Plus they're really easy to draw. Most superhero costumes happen like this: You draw a naked human, and draw lines on it. The classic "Underpants-over-the-tights" look comes from drawing your lines right at the hip. But whatever the roots, over 70+ years the shorts became iconic for Superman. You take that away, and it's not Superman, it's a guy wearing the S-Shield in an alternate universe (and we've had enough of those over the years).
But then I see this Smallville one, and it's not so bad.
|"Man of Steel" Superman|
(As an aside, I love the Smallville Season 11 belt, the way it takes a V-line and a little bit of trim to make that pentagon "buckle" out of negative space.)
But it's still Superman for some reason. Certainly from the waist up, which I find I can't say about New52!Clark. It's something more subtle.
It's the collar.
Kal has always had his shirt end at the collarbone. The cape's shifted around; sometimes it comes from that same line, sometimes it's attached around the back of the neck, but the shirt itself always ends there. The neck itself is bare. I don't know why that's a dealbreaker for me but for some reason it is. It somehow makes it more militaristic, more constricted. I'd say there was a juxtaposition of Clark Kent's work collar and Kal-El's open neckline, but that would sound pretentious. Maybe I just have a neck fetish. Whatever the reason, it seems to be the thing that bothers me most about New 52 Superman.
Images sourced via Google Image Search. Used without permission.