We keep getting news about Shazam, the upcoming DC Extended Universe film set to premiere in April 2019. If you haven’t been paying attention so far, here’s a quick rundown of what we know about the project.
The movie is centered around Billy Batson, a teenage boy played by Asher Angel (who plays Jonah Beck in Disney Channel’s Andi Mack). An orphaned foster child, he meets a wizard (Ron Cephas of This is Us) and is given the power to turn into an adult superhero by saying the magic word “Shazam!” As a hero, he is played by Zachary Levi, who played the title character of Chuck, Flynn Rider in Tangled and Fandral in the Thor movies.
Opposed to our hero is Doctor Sivana (Mark Strong), who has managed to get magical powers and comes back from the dead with them. He will be aided by his daughter Beautia and his son Magnificus, neither of whom have been cast yet. According to their official descriptions, Beautia at least seems like she will turn good by the end of the film; Magnificus does in the comics, but may not here. In contrast to early reports, Dwayne Johnson will not appear as the villainous Black Adam.
Also despite some rumors to the contrary, the movie will be part of the DCEU. It is being directed by David F. Sandberg, who up until now has only done horror movies such as Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation. He says that the movie will have a lot of situational comedy, but not be “jokey.”
Also appearing will be Jack Dylan Grazer as Billy’s best friend Freddy Freeman and Grace Fulton as Mary, who in the comics is Billy’s twin sister; here she and Freddy may be foster siblings, as will be characters played by Ian Chen, Jovan Armand and Faithe Herman.
It was recently announced that Zachary Levi would be playing the superhero protagonist of Shazam, the DC Comics/Warner Bros. film set for release on April 5, 2017. Some are now asking what the implications of this casting might be, in terms of tone and whether or not the film will be part of the DC Extended Universe.
Levi has been in superhero films before—he plays Fandral in Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World and Thor: Ragnarok—but is primarily a comedic actor. He appeared in Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel as a caretaker for the titular rodent band and played Flynn Rider, the roguish love interest to Rapunzel, in Disney’s Tangled.
Levi was not the first odd choice for this project: Shazam‘s director, David F. Sandberg, is primarily known for horror movies (most notably Light’s Out and Annabelle: Creation), and has brought a few of his genre friends with him. Nevertheless he seems to have a flair for comedy, having several joking interactions with Shazam comic book’s fanbase.
Shazam is focused on a young boy, Billy Batson, who can turn into an adult superhero by saying “Shazam,” the name of the wizard who gave him his powers. It is the ultimate wish fulfillment for kids, and several sources say that it will be a more lighthearted, fun entry into the DCEU, which so far has alienated some fans with its darker tone.
But the film was originally pitched as a standalone; it was added to the DCEU later. Does the comedic tone of its lead and director indicate that it may be excised from the more serious series? It’s not impossible: Warner Bros. has announced a Joker movie that is separate from the DCEU.
Only time will tell what kind of film it is that Levi and Sandberg will wind up making.