Shazam's Suit Explained By The Movie's Costume Designer

Shazam's New 52 Cape & Hood

We could spend a lot of time explaining the misconceptions surrounding the Golden Age, Post-Crisis, and New 52 looks of Shazam (or 'Captain Marvel,' originally). But the truth is it's impossible to point to just one version of the suit, or its lightning bolt that the movie is based on. The closest version may even be the animated variant created for the DC movie Justice League: War. But as director David F. Sandberg points out, there's at least ONE part that calls directly back to the Geoff Johns comic the origin story is following:

I wanted to incorporate a little bit of everything [into the movie], not just the New 52, but the older stuff as well... The suit is one part of that where it's like, 'Yeah, I want the shorter cape of like the Golden Age comics.' But then, 'Let's try the hood from the New 52.' And little things like that, and trying to balance it.

The result seems to be just what was aimed for: a hero who looks the part, but is somehow more... old-fashioned than a modern Superman or Batman. And for those wondering how the Shazam! cape compares to those other Justice Leaguers, we'll let Butler explain why they're usually CG--and anything but white:

I will say too, that the length of the cape is shorter, maybe, than your traditional Superman. And it was very pleasing actually, that he has this kind of fun length to the cape, which shows a lot of movement and action and just has a sort of more useful, light feel to it... It's wool. And we went through--again with the research. So many different fabrics. What is gonna look good? What is gonna hold? What is going to move? And we landed on this really beautiful wool... the handy-dandy buttons actually screw in, and hold in the cape to the elements.

RELATED: No, Shazam's Movie Suits Don't Cost $1 Million Each

The textures and mythical inspiration of the Shazam! movie costume were difficult to know just from a set photo or two, but one thing fans did notice was the animal embedded in the suit. The large buttons that hold Shazam's cloak to his shoulders in the comics are simple, polished gold. But the movie version shows the clear depiction of a tiger's head--an overt reference to 'Talky Tawny,' the anthropomorphic tiger (then an actual tiger in the New 52) who remains a favorite among Shazam fans. The Easter Egg is intentional, but Butler reveals the happy coincidence of its creation:

That came about because we started going through history, and different genres, and symbolism. I was thinking of lions, and something strong, and I actually worked with a [comic fans] he said, 'Mr. Tawny!' And I said, 'That's a great idea! That must be how Mr. Tawny ended up in ours.'

Shazam's Changing Boots (Not Sandals)

At last, we arrive at the boots. The part of every superhero costume that wardrobe creators must make comfortable, durable, and immaculate... before spending most of the time cut out of the frame. Still, Butler's team had their work cut out for them, creating a golden boot that looked more classical than science fiction. In the end, it seems that the boots we saw on set--the same ones being worn in the first official Shazam! photo, from the first days on set--were ultimately changed. The panels of red fabric were replaced by a solid gold, but from the sound of it, Butler's team never stopped trying to master the design.

Let me just tell you, that we had a pair of sandals to start off with--very New 52--and it didn't work. So we needed to come up with something a bit meatier and we were talking about, you know, kind of working through things, that was one thing we definitely worked through. He has so much action, too, and we wanted the design lines to really follow through with the other elements within the costume itself. Design lines are from the bolt, the belt, and the gauntlet, and as you can see we even pull in the fabric. [The sandal design] was going to be sort of a one piece sort of thing, with a bit of the fabrication almost in it.

We even looked at perhaps doing it attached like Superman's, but ended up going in this other direction. Zac, luckily, feels quite comfortable in these I think for the most part. And they're pretty functional for him too.

Stay tuned to Screen Rant for more Shazam! set visit coverage, including interviews, previews, and some theories of our own.

MORE: Shazam! Director Trolls Fans Over Batman Forever Suit Jokes

Key Release Dates
  • Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
  • Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
  • Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
  • Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) release date: Feb 07, 2020
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