Jeff Jensen
October 29, 2010 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Captain America’s original comic-book costume — bold colors, flimsy material, a mask with weird little wings — was never going to fly with Joe Johnston. ”You can’t really take him seriously in his flag pajamas,” says the director. ”We knew we almost had to make fun of it today, and the only way we could do that is if he himself felt like an idiot when he wore it.” In the movie, Steve Rogers wears those ”pajamas” during a sequence in which he serves his country — much to his chagrin — as a USO propaganda puppet. When he finally gets fighting, Cap is first content to just toss on a thick leather jacket, but he quickly turns to Howard Stark (Iron Man’s father, played by Dominic Cooper) to design a sensible ensemble made of sophisticated fabrics. Up close, it resembles a tricked-out airman’s jumpsuit. The ”A” on the helmet and star on the chest are modest in size, the colors muted. The accessories are modified versions of ’40s-era G.I. Joe stuff: leather gloves, boots, and belt. During his USO days, Cap uses a Templar shield. After it gets perforated by HYDRA goons, he switches to the iconic ”vibranium” (actually aluminum) saucer. It takes Chris Evans about 25 minutes to suit up. ”He likes to do it all by himself,” says costume designer Anna Sheppard. ”I think it helps him feel like a superhero.”

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