If there is one thing that can make or break a big-screen adaptation of a major comic-book, it is how the costume is interpreted. Most of the time the work is fairly well done, with a lot of people thinking long and hard about it and making sure to craft something function yet cool, without making it too slavishly adherent to the look from the comic that it seems ridiculous in real life. And then sometimes you get things like Jared Leto’s Joker in ‘Suicide Squad,’ which some people loved and others despised for how far it strayed from his usual look in the comics.
The DCEU has had a lot of press lately about another of its upcoming movies and the costume design, namely because the design they went with is so visually striking, and, well, different, even if it does not actually veer that far from the look of the comic book. I’m of course talking about ‘Shazam!’ and the suit worn in the upcoming movie by Zachary Levi, first revealed to the public by leaked set photos, much to the dismay of those who created the costume.
One such person who worked on the costume, who offered extensive explanations of the look and reasoning behind many of the choices made for ‘Shazam!’ while speaking to Screen Rant, was the movie’s Costume Designer Leah Butler. When speaking about the colors used and some of the overall design elements, Butler said:
“I’m going to read something that when I first started, David and I were talking about the costume… I hope I don’t bore you, but here we go… “Mythological symbols and icons will be utilized in his designs along with elements from the past that feel real and not streamlined… Red is often the most intense color emotionally in the spectrum. The Greeks began using blood red as a pigment in ancient Rome. In Ancient Greece, gold was a metal that was precious to the gods, to the extent that they were dressed in gold. Precious gold, the color, the luster of the gold continues to be associated with the sun and the sacred masculine. Approach to costume is also born from organic elements, and will feel sacred and true as opposed to machine like, severe, or manufactured. This design will be approached with these basics is in mind.”
The pattern on [the suit fabric] is also taken from Greek and Roman, like a Greek key pattern that we did, it’s the pattern that we did on top of the fabrication. There are two different sizes of it and all these design lines here are as well… which gives this a really nice, dynamic look. It’s 3D. As you can see, there’s also that sort of Greek key pattern as well on the cape. That as well was printed. He has everything from gauntlets to belts to what we like to call, ‘the bolt.'”
And, of course, she had to say something about the big glowing lighting bolt on his chest, as well as the complimentary lights on the gauntlets, both of which have been catching everyone’s eye ever since images of the costume were released. On those topics, Butler stated:
“The bolt obviously lights up. We wanted to have some practical lighting on the face, because he is going be lit up during the movie. The director and the DP really wanted to do some shadows and really see some actual practical light. We took the lighting elements, which there are indeed quite a bit of, and incorporated it into this shape here so it would be able to go right in between the pecs. It’s a very thin lighting element that is adjustable. It goes up and down… we’re able to adjust the temperature of the light and how visual it is while we’re shooting.
There we go [the bolt slowly brightens to an almost blinding white level]. Quite bright. I’m not going to blind you all, but as you can see we were able to really come up with a great technology. And luckily enough, the stunt guy and Zac have actually not broken one yet. I can’t believe it. David came up to us when we were designing the costume and said, ‘It would be really cool if the gauntlets lit up too, do you think you could do that?’ ‘Yeah, sure, why not?’ Okay. So, I got to do another lighting element there. That’s how the lit gauntlets came about.”
All in all, I think I am still on the fence about this one, I just have not seen enough of the suit in action to decide whether or not it works, though the first trailer did make me feel a lot better about it. Those leaked set photos just made the whole thing look really goofy and it is nice to know they had a plan for a lot of this and are undoubtedly going to do a lot of lighting effects and tweaking in post-production to make it look a lot cooler than just the raw set footage.
What are your thoughts about the costume from ‘Shazam!’ ? Do you like it? Do you think it does justice to the comic? Feel free to share your opinion in the comments below!