Designer Anna B. Sheppard wanted to create a cape that would make Doctor Strange's look like last year's hand-me-downs.

By Devan Coggan
July 02, 2019 at 02:00 PM EDT
Jay Maidment/Sony
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Contrary to what a certain diminutive, animated fashionista might think, there can be power in a good superhero cape. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has its fair share of dramatic cloaks and mantles, from Thor and Loki’s Asgardian garb to Vision’s bright yellow number. And that’s to say nothing of Doctor Strange’s enchanted crimson cape, which has the distinction of being both functional and fashionable.

So when costume designer Anna B. Sheppard signed on to Spider-Man: Far From Home and learned she’d be designing for Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio, she knew she’d have to bring her cape A-game.

“I was always impressed by the cape in Doctor Strange, and I said, ‘Okay guys, let’s do an even more beautiful cape,'” Sheppard tells EW with a laugh.

Far From Home (in theaters July 2) boasts a number of striking superhero looks, from Tom Holland’s familiar red spandex to Gyllenhaal’s fishbowl. Here, Sheppard and director Jon Watts break down some of the film’s most memorable looks.

Classic crimson

Sony Pictures

Peter Parker wears a few different red suits in Far From Home. There’s the Tony Stark-designed Iron Spider costume that debuted in Avengers: Infinity Warand we also see the return of the familiar red-and-blue that Peter wore in 2017’s Spider-Man: HomecomingBut there’s also a new addition to Peter’s closet: a red and black suit that he designs himself, with Steve Ditko-inspired web wings to help him glide through the air.

Like the Homecoming suit, this new number is made of a stretchy white fabric that’s then printed and dyed for texture and color. For Sheppard, the biggest challenge was constructing a costume that looked high-tech, while still being comfortable for Holland.

“It has to be stretchy, and it has to withstand a lot of trouble and different gymnastics he does in the movie,” explains Sheppard, who’s previously worked on films like Captain America: The First Avenger and Maleficent. “A lot of movement, a lot of stretching in every possible direction — plus it has to be breathable because he’s wearing a mask over his face all the time.”

Stealth mode

Sony Pictures

Far From Home follows Peter as he takes a class trip to Europe, but when the need arises for some heroism, he realizes he can’t put on his familiar red tights without tipping off onlookers to Spidey’s presence across the pond. So, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) lends him a new all-black stealth suit to help hide his identity. “Because we have Nick Fury in this movie, I thought, ‘What would it look like if Spider-Man had a suit that was essentially designed by the S.H.I.E.L.D. team?’” Watts explains.

The result is a sleek black outfit with fingerless gloves and flip-up goggles — and Sheppard says it’s Holland’s personal favorite look.

“It kind of looks like Black Widow — maybe it was one of her suits and they just tailored it,” Watts jokes.

Gettin’ mysterious

Jay Maidment/Sony

For the big screen version of Gyllenhaal’s enigmatic magic user, Watts worked with Ryan Meinerding, Marvel’s head of visual development, to design a look inspired by Mysterio in the comics. They started with a style that hewed close to Mysterio’s original look (complete with a bubble helmet), and they experimented with a few other iterations before ultimately returning to the iconic fishbowl. “We were like, you know what? They had it right in the comics the first time; let’s be true to that,” Watts says.

Mysterio’s chest plate is made of a lightweight plastic that’s molded and painted to look like metal, and the interior is wired with lights. Also wired? The lavish maroon cape, which is two layers of fabric stitched together with an elaborate electrical system hidden inside. A battery pack is concealed on Gyllenhaal’s body, and the wires stretch out through the cape so that it lights up.

Sheppard also went through multiple rounds of fabric tests for the cape. To get the exact purple color she wanted, she stitched red and blue thread together to give it dimension, instead of just dying a single piece of fabric purple.

Ultimately, she says, all that hard work was worth it.

“Jake really took to it like a fish to water,” she explains. “He wears it very well. I was afraid because it’s heavy, of course, [and] the armor is quite constricting, and the cape is huge and long. No! He really took it in his stride and never complained.”

In fact, Gyllenhaal maybe got a little too comfortable at times.

“He sat on the lights [in the cape] unfortunately, once or twice,” Sheppard adds with a laugh. “But when you are in this mood of playing this hero, you don’t think what you’re sitting on. So he’s forgiven.”

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