This week puts us exactly one year out from the release of Shazam!, DC Films' first attempt to introduce the title hero (formerly known as Captain Marvel) to the screen. While we've yet to see any official photos or footage from the film, pictures from the set have given us an early peek at star Zachary Levi's superhero suit, and the reaction has been mixed.
Levi's costume, as far as we can tell so far, is essentially a hybrid attempting to capture elements of both the classic Captain Marvel look and the more recent redesigns, particularly the version introduced by artist Gary Frank during the New 52 era. That version of the character wore a gold belt rather than the traditional sash, a cape with clasps at the collarbone rather than a rope across the neck, and even a hood. Those elements are present in Levi's look, along with various seams running throughout the costume that are in keeping with various New 52 designs, including Superman's.
The movie suit is definitely a brighter red than its New 52 counterpart, though, and the logo — while framed in metallic gold — is bright yellow. The colors hearken back to the earlier Captain Marvel designs, and hint at a more optimistic version of the hero.
Whether you prefer the classic look or the redesign, this merging of styles means that at least a few fans are going to be unhappy with Levi's look for the film, and one of them decided to take their complaints directly to him in a rather harsh way. During an Instagram live Q&A over the weekend, one user simply commented to Levi "WHY THE CRAP SUIT," and rather than ignore it or dismiss it with a quick joke, the star decided to address the comment in a serious way.
" 'Why the crap suit?' Wow! OK, well I don't think it's a crap suit. I think my suit is f---in' bomb, to be perfectly honest," Levi said. "And I know that there hasn't been an officially released photo yet, but there have been incredibly high quality photos that have been released. And I think that any of you people out there who are still hung up on what the suit looks like are just wanting to be angry for angry's sake. I think you're very insecure, you probably are dealing with some stuff in your own life, and you feel a little powerless, and I'm sorry that you do. Wherever you're at and whatever you're going through, I'm sorry that you're going through that.
"But, I do think you should probably take a second and reflect on why you are as negative as you are about maybe anything in life, and then re-look at the suit and go, 'Actually hey, you know what? They're trying really hard to make something that's awesome and that pleases a lot of different people,' because Captain Marvel's been around for a really long time and has had a whole bunch of different iterations of suits. So, you can't win 'em all, but you can at least hope that people will give you a fair shake."
Video of the full Q&A was not archived to Levi's Instagram page, but one Twitter user did post footage of Levi's comments about the suit online. You can view that footage here (some NSFW language included).
Now, there's a little bit to unpack here regarding the tone of what Levi's saying. Being critical of a costume design for a superhero property that you love doesn't necessarily hint at insecurity or a desire to be "angry for angry's sake." Some fans are just passionate and find it really hard to look past a costume or some other storytelling choice that bugs them. That said, Levi wasn't really in a position to issue disclaimers here about how he didn't intend to paint all fans with the same brush. He was responding directly to a single viewer comment, and it was an all-caps, nasty comment at that. This wasn't "I have a few concerns about the costume design." This was "WHY THE CRAP SUIT," and given that, Levi's response was actually rather diplomatic.
It's also important to note that all we've seen of the official costume so far are set photos taken at some distance by a photographer unaffiliated with the Shazam! production. This is a big-budget, FX-driven movie about a superhero, which means all manner of post-production processes have yet to be completed. Right now, we're looking at Zachary Levi in a big red costume. We won't actually see "Shazam!" as the film intends to portray him until DC and director David Sandberg have crafted a look to their liking. So, while optimism isn't always easy, it's probably the best course for now.
Shazam! hits theaters April 5, 2019.