Just me talking about costume-y kind of stuff
A brief History
Captain Marvel was created by Fawcett Comics in 1939, the year after Superman, and holds the distinction of being the first superhero character to be made into a film-- The Adventures of Captain Marvel, released in 1940. Captain Marvel was Fawcett's biggest moneymaker and in fact was the nation's most popular superhero and the highest circulated comic book. This ruffled a lot of feathers over at DC (Superman's publisher). In a desperate attempt to stop the release of the movie as well as the title, DC sued the publishers on the grounds of copyright violation citing that Captain Marvel was too similar to Superman. To make the "longest legal battle in comic book history" story short, over the course of the next twelve years DC sued Fawcett, lost, appealed, and then won their appeal. Fawcett ceased and desisted making Captain Marvel comics in 1953. Fawcett had to pay DC a large sum of money and subsequently folded. Captain Marvel remained out of print for the next fourteen years. In 1967, Marvel Comics trademarked the name Captain Marvel and started up a new series where he is a Kree alien. In the intervening time, DC had bought out the defunct Fawcett Comics and now owned both Superman and the character it had once said was a Superman infringement. DC owned the character, but not the name and that's why DC had to call their 1974 TV show Shazam!
DC's Captain Marvel: AKA Shazam!
Captain Marvel is the secret identity of teenager Billy Batson. When Billy says the magic word Shazam! he becomes an adult superhero who wears an costume that is clearly influenced by WWII soldier uniforms. The tunic top is asymmetrical with a button on the right shoulder. The sleeves have shoulder pads and are loosely fitted like a men's suit jacket. The white cape has gold military braid trim down the front and at the hem. His gold belt and bracers, yellow lightning bolt on the chest, boots complete his outfit. CC Beck who drew Captain Marvel based his look on Fred MacMurray who was the #1 box office star at the time.
By 1941, Fawcett had given Captain Marvel some friends: Mary Marvel, Billy's twin sister, and Captain Marvel Jr., Billy's friend Freddy who stayed a teenager when he transformed. Mary Marvel's look was based on Judy Garland, and Junior, believe it or not, inspired Elvis Presley's look as he was a big fan of the character and designed his later stage costumes with capes based on Junior's supersuit.
At this point, Captain Marvel has done away with the militaristic asymmetrical tunic bib, shoulder pads, and loose sleeves that he was in before. Instead, his supersuit is much more similar to Superman's unitard now, sleek and aerodynamic. He still has the white cape, but the gold braid frogs are gone, only the gold trim on the hem remains. Lastly, the lightning bolt has gotten much wider. Mary wears the girl version of the Marvel supersuit, short puff sleeves and a full skirt. Junior wears the same suit as Marvel, just in blue instead of red with a red cape instead of white.
Then it just got ridiculous. Fawcett added three boys who went by the names of Tall Billy, Fat Billy and Hill Billy. There was a rabbit called Hoppy the Marvel Bunny, and an old man called Uncle Dudley. They all wore the same suit as Captain Marvel.
Once the lawsuit was finally settled and DC owned the character, they rebooted the series calling it Shazam! with just Mary and Junior. Mary's neckline is a little lower and her skirt hem is a lot higher, but basically they are in the same costumes from 1941.
When DC published Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985, the Marvel family got a reboot. They cut out both Mary and Junior, just leaving Captain Marvel.
Later, in 2012 Geoff Johns and Gary Frank gave Captain Marvel a new family for the New 52, bringing back Mary and Freddy, and adding Darla Dudley, Pedro Pena, and Eugene Choi, Billy's adopted siblings. Finally we get more colors. Darla is in purple, Pedro is in green, and Eugene is in grey. Billy is still in blue, but with a white cape. Mary is still in red, although she's no longer Billy's twin sister. Mary still has short sleeves, Darla has no sleeves. Notice how all the lightning bolts are glowing and seem to be emanating electricity.
Shazam! on screen
This is the original 1941 film, The Adventures of Captain Marvel. The actor was Tom Tyler. There was no designer listed on its IMDB page. This first iteration of the Captain Marvel supersuit was an exact copy of the original Golden Age comic: The militaristic asymetrical tunic bib that buttoned on the right shoulder, the skinny lightning bolt logo high on the chest, and the sleeves loosely fitted with shoulder pads like a men's suit jacket of the period. The cape had the gold braided frogs down the front and the gold ribbon on the hem.
The Shazam! TV series was on between 1974-77. The
costume designer was Thalia Phillips and
the actor was Jackson Bostwick, although he was replaced in Season 2 with John Davey, after sustaining a stunt related injury. I watched this show every Saturday morning. In this version Billy was no longer a teenager (the actor Michael Gray, was 23 at the time). Billy worked for a radio station, WHIZ and was on a roving assignment with Mentor (a character loosely based on a combination of Uncle Dudley and the Wizard Shazam). Together they drove around in an RV while Billy got sent on missions by the Immortal Elders. At the end of each episode, Captain Marvel would tell us kids what we were supposed to have learned from the episode.
The Secrets of Isis was a spin-off TV Show that ran on the same network for two seasons in 1975-76. Thalia Phillips did the costumes for Isis as well Shazam. Isis appeared on Shazam during Season 1 in 1974 and then got her own show the next year. Captain Marvel appeared as a guest star on Secrets of Isis in both seasons. John Davey played Captain Marvel in three episodes. The costume is the same one that Jackson Bostwick wore.
Legends of the Superheroes, 1978.
Costume Designed by Warden Neil.
The actor was Garrett Craig. This was a very cheaply made Hanna-Barbera made for TV special.
The current iteration of Shazam! came out in 2019 with costumes designed by Leah Butler. Zachary Levi was 6'3" and 180 lbs before he started training for the role. Although he did bulk up to 215 and trained with four different gurus, not all those abs were his. The suit did augment his body shape, they all do. However, for the doubters who can't get over how Chuck became Shazam!, here's the before and after photos.
The Hollywood Reporter stated that the costume budget alone was $10 million. The suit budget was between 600,000-$700,000 just for Zachary Levi and his stunt double's 10 suits. Based on the after photo of Zachary Levi's chest, my guess is that the underlayer had extra padding on the deltoids, lats, and pecs, to make his chest bigger and wider in order to make his waist seem smaller. Here's a photo of Zachary with his stunt double, Ryan Handley. Ryan had motion capture dots on his face so the CGI department could replace his face with Zachary's. Ryan also played the faceless Superman at the end of the movie.
Here's a Screen Rant interview with the costume designer Leah Butler where she revealed all the insider information on how the suit was made, what secrets the underlayer was hiding, and all the relevant design details, which I will summarize here.
The red fabric has a Greek key pattern printed into it. It's very difficult to see from far away, but the close up photo shows the texture that the pattern creates on the surface of the fabric, as well as the design lines that are also printed onto the fabric to accentuate Shazam's musculature. The lighting bolt and gauntlets light up and can be controlled for both temperature (color) and brightness.
The cape is made from a very light weight wool and has a Greek key pattern embroidered on the hem. The knee-length cape is actually much longer than it is in both the very short golden age comics, as well as the longer butt-length capes from the New 52 comics.
The cape screws into the underlayer with gold buttons so that it stays put during all the superhero-ing. A nice detail about the buttons is that they are embossed with tigers as a nod to Mr. Tawny, a talking tiger, who was Shazam's golden age friend.
Shazam has a foster family in this movie, so here's the whole gang-- Pedro, Mary, Billy, Freddy, Eugene, and Darla--child and adult versions.
The adult actors are: DJ Cotrona as Pedro, Michelle Borth as Mary, Adam Brody as Freddy, Ross Butler as Eugene, and Meagan Good as Darla. The Marvel family costumes were designed to look just like the New 52 comics. They are made the same way as Shazam's costume with the Greek key pattern printed on the fabric, the printed on seam lines emphasizing the musculature, the light-up lightning bolts and gauntlets, the gold belts and boots. It's easier to see the printed texture of the fabrics in the next few close up photos under natural light rather than the camera lighting used in the movie stills.
Pedro, DJ Cotrona, and his stunt double, Alex Albuster.
Darla, played by Meagan Good.
Freddy Freeman played by Adam Brody.
Eugene Choi played by Ross Butler. Eugene's suit is grey, which you can clearly see in the lighting in his trailer. It looks purple in the camera lighting on set for the scene in the throne room that was deleted from the final cut.
Mary played by Michelle Borth.
Marvel's Captain Marvel
The first Captain Marvel published by Marvel Comics was created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan in December, 1967. This Captain Mar-Vell was an alien officer in the Kree military. He allied himself with Earth and was branded a traitor. He wore his Kree military uniform, which is a white unitard with black trunks and green accessories of gloves, mask and cowl, boots, belt, and planet symbol on his chest.
Once he became Earth's advocate, he changed his Kree military uniform for a new supersuit of red unitard with blue accessories of trunks, gloves, boots, mask, and half cowl. He had golden blonde hair and a gold star on his chest, with gold wristbands.
Later, Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers) was created by Roy Thomas and Gene Colan in March, 1968 as an officer in the USAF, so that Mar-Vell would have a love interest. Her DNA was fused with Mar-Vell's during an explosion that gave her super powers, creating the first human-Kree hybrid. The title "Ms." was chosen in tribute to Gloria Steinem and her Ms. Magazine, to associate her with the new feminist movement, which you can read all about here in this Washington Post article. Carol got a job at the Daily Bugle with Peter Parker, and became the fashion editor. While there she fought for equal pay for equal work. She later joined the Avengers.
Her costume was similar to Captain Mar-Vell's, although much more revealing. She wore a red, long- sleeved leotard with a cowl neckline and a tummy cut out. Her trunks were black, as were her boots, gloves, and mask. She had the same golden blonde hair and star on her leotard. She had something resembling a cape, but it seems to be a scarf that trails out behind her, perhaps attached to the cowl neckline.
Later, they got rid of the tummy cut out. There's a better view of the scarf in this one.
Ms. Marvel in 2006 by Brian Reed, Paul Renaud, Ben Oliver, and Sana Takeda. She was still being written and drawn by men and was wearing even less clothes than before. She looked less like a superhero and more like a dominatrix.
In 2012, Carol Danvers assumed the name Captain Marvel in honor of the original, now deceased Mar-Vell, written by Kelly Sue DeConnick and drawn by Jaime McKelvie. For the first time in her history, a woman was writing her story and making decisions on how she was going to look. Her costume was completely redesigned and was no longer the sexy, skimpy, completely impractical thing it was before. She was completely covered up just like male Captain Marvel, looking like she's ready to fight. Her boots did't even have high heels and her helmet scooped up her hair into a mohawk.
Unlike DC and their Shazam! TV series and movies, Marvel never made any Captain Marvel movies or TV shows until this year. Captain Marvel's costumes were designed by Sanja Milkovic Hays. The actress was Brie Larson. Here is a Fashionista article where you can read all about the supersuit. And here's a Popsugar interview with Hays about the rest of Brie's 1990's costumes. And here's a Vogue article on the costumes.
Brie Larson did some serious training to get in shape for this role. Here's an article about her training and her stunt doubles, Renae Moneymaker and Joanna Bennett. Because Brie kept training and learning her stunts, as the costume team would do her fittings, her body kept changing, so the suit was continually undergoing tweaking to make it fit better and be more comfortable for all the physicality and action sequences. By the end of her training, she could deadlift 225 lbs and push a jeep up a hill. This is Brie with Renae Moneymaker.
This Captain Marvel started out in her Kree Starforce military uniform, which had green trim on a black utility jumpsuit, with a star on her chest. The fabric chosen for the jumpsuit was "a mix of leather backed by four-way stretch and panels of spandex-like specialty fabric." The black panels on the Kree suit were printed with a slight teal undertone and shimmered under certain lighting conditions to match the gleaming armor parts. Her boots were actual combat boots and not high heel wedges like most other female superheroes including Leia's grey Hoth boots. The entire suit was made up of independent units to make bathroom breaks easier and faster, but still required six dressers to get Brie out of and back into the suit each time.
Her signature mohawk helmet required a lot of trial and error to design and was a team effort between Brie Larson and costume designer Hays, 3D modeller Adam Ross, Fabricator Russ Shinkle, and hair stylist Camille Friend and their respective teams. The helmet was actually two main pieces that clamshelled together around the mohawk which was a wig, and a separate chin strap. Her own hair was actually held inside the helmet with a balaclava.
My favorite part of the movie was when she redesigned her Kree uniform. Here's the clip with all the different versions that could have been. My favorite is the neon rainbow version. It reminded me of the Wonder Woman 1984 poster art which I have included for comparison below.
Here's the Americanized version of the Kree suit. This is Brie with her other stunt double Joanna Bennett. You can sorta see how the suit is made in pieces, with the top half of the suit separate from the bottom half. Her belt hides the juncture. The top half is a lycra/spandex blend in the appropriate colors that has zip front closure. Most of that gets covered by the leather breastplate that zips up the back with an overlap that hides the zipper and velcros over it. All the pieces either velcro or snap to the underlayer so that everything stays in place while she's moving.
Brie won the MTV People's Choice Award for Best Fight Scene and she brought up her stunt doubles to accept the award with her.