The superhero mania that is invading American cinemas this summer has taken hold at one of the country's most distinguished art museums with an exhibit on how their colorful costumes have influenced fashion.
"Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy" runs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York from May 7 to September 1 with an opening red-carpet gala on Monday night that was to include former "Batman" star George Clooney and actress Julia Roberts.
The exhibit examines how Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and others have influenced big-name fashion designers. The feminine figure is represented by characters such as Wonder Woman and Catwoman.
In the mirrored exhibition hall, superhero costumes are juxtaposed with the fashion they have influenced, largely a collection of active sportswear and outlandish garb more fit for a Halloween party than a night out at the theater.
Among the costumes on display are the ones worn by the late Christopher Reeve in the 1978 version of "Superman," two versions worn by Tobey Maguire in "Spider-Man 3" from 2007 and the "Catwoman" suit worn by Michelle Pfeiffer in 1992's "Batman Returns."
The exhibit notes that Superman's costume, inspired by those of circus acrobats and strongmen, "became the standard upon which successive superheroes were styled."
It also digs beneath the meaning of superheroes with superpowers versus those who are mere mortals.
"While Batman relies on a varied arsenal of gadgetry to enable him to fight crime, Iron Man is encased in full body armor. Both serve as metaphors for defensive paranoia," the exhibits says.
A film version of "Iron Man" opened this past weekend by taking in $100 million at the box office, and later this year will come the latest movie installments in the "Batman" and "Hulk" franchises.