Set photos of Zachary Levi's Shazam have revealed the former Captain Marvel's movie costume, although this leak may not be telling the full truth. Shazam! is based on the DC Comics' adventures of Billy Batson, a kid reporter who encounters a mystical wizard that endows him with the power of the gods, instantly becoming an adult superhero when he utters the phrase, "SHAZAM." Director David F. Sandberg (Annabelle: Creation) is at the helm and has cast Asher Angel as Batson and funnyman Zachary Levi (Chuck) as the title character, Shazam.Production has begun on the film described as Big meets Superman and recently eager fans got their first look at Shazam on location. The unauthorized photo immediately caused an uproar of opinion, with many caught off-guard with the look of the costume. From the angle in the photograph, Shazam's outfit looks like the cheap spandex-based costumes found in 90's movies (think Jingle All the Way). Some of the criticisms - the bright red outfit isn't padded with cartoonishly artificial muscles, but filled out by Levi - are a little off base, but there's no avoiding that this is out of the norm for today's big-screen adaptations. It seemingly bucks the trend of heroes in costumes with clear functionality that has been established since at least Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins.Related: Why The Shazam Costume Is PerfectThere have been a lot of complaints regarding the start of the modern DC cinematic universe, but their super suit designing has largely been a success. Whether it's Batman in mech armor, Wonder Woman and the Amazonians, or Harley Quinn's "Daddy's Little Monster" shirt, their costuming has been trendsetting in many ways. So, are Sandberg and DC Films dropping the ball for the first time, or do they have a larger plan in mind?This Page: Will Shazam's Costume Evolve With The Character?
Shazam Could Change His Costume To Be More Like Superman
It's important to keep in mind that Shazam is ultimately a story about a kid's wish fulfillment. Every child at some point dreams of being a superhero, but Batson actually gets the opportunity. He is still a kid, though, and his suit will reflect his youthful outlook - at least to begin with.
Along with the first look at Shazam, set photos have also revealed plush toys of several DCEU characters, including Wonder Woman, Batman, Harley Quinn, and of course Superman. If these are the Batson's reference points for what a superhero looks like, it would stand to reason that his initial look would mimic what is readily around him. And that could change.
In January, a rumor surfaced that Henry Cavill would be reprising his role as Superman in Shazam, following his attention-grabbing performance in Justice League. Reportedly, Superman will serve as an "inspirational figure" in young Batson's life which ultimately will help to mold his superhero alter-ego. Many have speculated that the boy that interviews Superman at the beginning of Justice League, is in fact Batson. If that's true, it's conceivable that we could see the scene played out from a different perspective in Shazam; Batson is a reporter at heart and if he got the opportunity to see Superman up and close, he would certainly be taking notes.
Discussion has centered on the perception of Superman, but this would be a catalyzing moment for Billy that shows Kal-El in a truly hopeful light. The flipside of the theory is thus that, if DCEU Superman is going to be Shazam's inspiration, then it wouldn't be out of the question for this in-universe controversial figure to influence Batson's look. If Billy meets Superman, he may start viewing superheroics different and begin reshaping himself in that form; we see Shazam initially looking like Christopher Reeve, then over the course of the movie he shifts to become closer to the DCEU ideal. This would be a sly commentary on Shazam's origin (he was, initially, a Superman riff) but also could work as a recanonization of the unfolding franchise.
Shazam Could Be A Commentary On The DCEU
The potential inclusion of Superman already opened up a significant amount of thematic possibilities for Shazam! in relation to the wider franchise, one that has courted quite a lot of controversy.
Indeed, while most are in agreement that Henry Cavill is an actor born to play the Kryptonian refugee, there has been wide range of heated discourse on the portrayal of DC Comics' most recognizable character in Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, then on the effectiveness of Justice League's pivot, in part thanks to the obvious reshoots, in particular Cavill's CGI-removed mustache. The problems all center on the perceived notion of heroism, and how heroic the central characters are viewed in the world at large: Dawn of Justice had Superman a controversial figure, then Justice League twisted him to be a beacon with little outward change.
That's been the biggest hurdle for the DCEU with audiences, and may be something Shazam! can actively explore. We've already discussed how Superman's presence could serve as a way to explore the Man of Steel from a new perspective, reframing his Justice League introduction, but if the film was to have that influence pair off and impact our new hero directly, we could end up with a dissection of what makes the franchise unique so far.
There's nothing more honest than a child's opinion. The film will be told through Batson's eyes, allowing us to view the reality where there are heroes with the power of gods battling in the sky, underground, and throughout the city streets from an unencumbered perspective. If Shazam is likewise the classical view of a hero - think Reeve's Superman - then there's an inherent contrast in the character to the wider franchise. In this way, the film could end up being a sort of commentary on the DCEU's thesis so far and highlighting of its relevance. Whether or not the costume changes happen doesn't influence this aspect - you can make the point either way - but it would be a visual representation of a middle ground conclusion.
By the time Shazam! releases, the DCEU will be six years old and have released as many movies. Comparisons will always put it behind Marvel in terms of growth, but it is a movement for sure and a moment of pure reflection could be just what it needs. Shazam is the perfect hero to do it; he is a lighter, more old school hero who can provide a perspective that no other DC hero quite does at this point in their evolution. Again, this doesn't hinge on a costume change, but if everything goes well, with Shazam! we could see the DCEU gain a real sense of self-awareness.