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Shazam!, the upcoming DCEU film featuring a kid that turns into a jacked mega-man by saying the titular catchphrase, has already shocked many superhero fans with its excitingly fun trailers and sense of comic timing.
Star Zachary Levi’s transformation has also been one of the film’s more startling elements, both in physique and costume. The supersuit had a visual update over the course of the film’s life, becoming a darker and more textured shade, but it’s real and most arresting feature is its price tag. Each suit cost over a million dollars to make. And they made 10 for the film.
According to TotalFilm’s conversation with costume designer Leah Butler (who worked on both Levi’s series Chuck and Shazam! director David Sandberg’s Annabelle: Creation), these suits took a lot of costly effort — so they better pay off. Butler explained that she “took a lot of inspiration from the New 52, with the hooded cape,” as well as Greek and Roman symbolism and added a texture to the suit that’s “3D printed on the fabric.”
“The exterior suit is a spandex suit that goes over a musculature suit, and each muscle has been sculpted on the body of Zach so it accents and highlights his shape and size,” the costumer said. There’s also a ton of electronics involved, as the central bolt and gauntlets light up. “There is actually a battery in the back - we luckily had a cape to cover it all up or I don’t know where we would have put all that stuff - and it is remotely lit through a switchboard operator” Butler said. “There is wiring throughout the costume. It’s a 26-volt AA rechargeable battery. It lasts about two hours at full charge.” The time-intensive nature of the costume alone sounds like it’d drive up the cost. There’s so much that goes into a costume.
“It took 16 weeks to build the costume,” Butler said. “We had to scan Zach’s body and start building the costume even before he started his very strict regime — his diet and working out.” They also made a more physical copy of their star, having “a sculptor who sculpts Zach’s body so we can have the body form available.” With this, the seamstresses, the illustrators, the manufacturers? “Each suit costs, oh boy, upwards of a million? We have ten suits,” Butler concluded. That’s more than twice the total budget of Sandberg’s first film, Lights Out.
Will it pay off? We’ll have to wait until each of the 10 suits show their stuff when Shazam! hits theaters on April 5.