Shazam! Director Responds To His Costumes Reportedly Costing $1 Million Each

Zachary Levi as Shazam! full costume in 2019 DCEU film
(Image credit: (Warner Bros.))

Billy Batson is in the big leagues now! In anticipation for Shazam!, the fans and filmmakers can't seem to quit talking about the hero's suit above all else. A couple days ago, the film's costume designer, Leah Butler, revealed that each of Shazam's costumes cost an upward of $1 million each, and they made 10 suits. $10 million seems like a lot to spend on costume design, and one fan decided to ask the director of Shazam!, David F. Sandberg, how accurate these numbers are. In his words:

I never saw a price tag so I don't know the exact number. Wouldn't surprise me though. The thing is that it's not the price for one suit. In developing a suit like this you basically have to build it several times over to get things right. Like there were many different bolts made. Ones with different bolt shapes, ones with different ways of lighting up, etc. There were different versions of the fabric made in different shades, different patterns, and so on and different version had to be camera tested.

There was a lot of work that went into making Zachary Levi's Shazam! suit just right, including playing with various fabrics and testing it to the scenes so it looks just right on screen. David F. Sandberg doesn't seem too worried about the cost of the suit, and understandably so -- if the suit doesn't look attractive, believable and true to the source material, it would be a bit of a blow to the film's perception of quality.

Since the first images of Shazam! have surfaced, there has been a lot of talk about the suit's appearance. First, fans accused it of being padded so lead actor Zachary Levi didn't have to work out for the superhero role, which he later fired back at by breaking down his intense diet and flexing his muscles.

Costume designer Leah Butler also recently explained that it took 16 weeks to build the costume, and they had to scan Zachary Levi's body before he had started getting into shape.

Then, fans noticed a difference in the look of the suit in the first trailer. The director later explained that this to do with some changes being made to the suit in post-production since it initially didn't look how they wanted it to in certain lights after changing the fabric late in prep. Shazam's suit will also reportedly see another change in the next trailer and final product due to similar reasons.

David F. Sandberg continued talking on Reddit about the complexity of getting Shazam's suit just right. In his words:

And once you nail down the design, the material and all other details you then have to make multiples and ones for stunts etc. Even during shooting you have to do upgrades. Like some of you have seen in early pics the boots were originally very different but those were falling apart and had to be redesigned. The internal wiring to light up the bolt and gauntlets turned out to be too thin and would break so that had to be updated with a new system and so on. The early gauntlets restricted Zac's hand movement too much.

Honestly, it looks like getting the Shazam suit ready was a bit of a hassle for the filmmakers due to its vibrant red color, lightning bolt logo and such.

Shazam! will follow the immense success of Aquaman over the holiday season, and introduce yet another underdog DCEU character in a fresh way. The upcoming film looks to be sort of like 1988's Big but with superheroes, as a young boy named Billy Batson can one day become an adult superhero when he shouts "SHAZAM!" The movie comes to theaters on April 5.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.