Today, Warner Bros. Pictures unveiled the first image from the highly anticipated action adventure Superman Returns, starring newcomer Brandon Routh as the Man of Steel.

Following a mysterious absence of several years, the Man of Steel comes back to Earth in the epic action-adventure, Superman Returns, a soaring new chapter in the saga of one of the world’s most beloved superheroes. While an old enemy plots to render him powerless once and for all, Superman faces the heartbreaking realization that the woman he loves, Lois Lane, has moved on with her life. Or has she? Superman’s bittersweet return challenges him to bridge the distance between them while finding a place in a society that has learned to survive without him. In an attempt to protect the world he loves from cataclysmic destruction, Superman embarks on an epic journey of redemption that takes him from the depths of the ocean to the far reaches of outer space.

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Movie Picture

Directed by Bryan Singer (X2: X-Men United, X-Men, The Usual Suspects), Superman Returns stars Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth (Beyond the Sea, Blue Crush), James Marsden (X2: X-Men United, The Notebook), Frank Langella (HBO’s Unscripted), Academy Award-winner Eva Marie Saint ("North By Northwest"), Parker Posey (Best in Show), Kal Penn (Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle), Sam Huntington (Detroit Rock City) and Oscar-winner Kevin Spacey (Beyond the Sea, American Beauty, The Usual Suspects).

Singer decided to keep the cape, the blue body suit, the red tights — even the V-cut opening of Superman's boots.

Superman Returns makes a few subtle changes to the suit:

• The character's S insignia is slightly smaller and higher on his chest, and instead of being painted on, it's more of a three-dimensional plate.

• The insignia is added to Superman's belt buckle.

• Costume designer Louise Mingenbach preserved the blue, red and yellow motif, but the shades are slightly darker than the bright primary colors of the comics. Superman's yellow belt is more golden, and his cape is a deep scarlet.

The key to filling it out, however, depends entirely on the physique of Routh, 25, the Iowa native who was briefly on the soap opera One Life to Live in 2001. Singer says the Superman costume wasn't complete without Routh.

"I always had the general idea of the suit. However, when the conceptual art was evolving around the same time that I cast Brandon, I privately had paintings rendered with Brandon's face, which certainly brought it to life."

Superman's body is the key to his power, Singer says.

"With X-Men, although they had extraordinary powers, they also had physical weaknesses," he says. "The suits were for protection as well as costume. Superman is the Man of Steel. Bullets bounce off him, not his suit."

What does the movie's costume say about this Superman's personality?

"He's not afraid," Singer says.