Just as San Diego Comic-Con gets underway, some fresh Shazam! news has hit the web regarding how Zachary Levi’s tight red suit wearing hero will impact the wider DCEU. Levi stars alongside Asher Angel, who plays a young Billy Batson, with Annabelle: Creation filmmaker David F. Sandberg in the director’s chair. Warner Bros. and DC have noticeably slowed production on their comic book-related projects, with Aquaman being their only DC title in 2018. Shazam! will be next out of the gate and an important step in the studio’s attempt to get the DCEU back on track.
With that, Shazam! looks to be a much lighter and more fun affair than your usual DC films, the term family-friendly may even apply, which was understood right from the first glimpse we got of Levi in full costume. If this is the direction DC want to go in then Shazam! is the perfect vehicle for that, being a story about a young kid who receives godlike powers from a rather generic looking wizard and now anytime he says “Shazam!” he is transformed into an adult superhero akin to Superman himself. The movie’s lightened tone may really work well and provide the perfect ground for Levi and co. to have a lot of fun with their performances; Shazam! could almost be like a PG-13 alternative to Deadpool in some ways.
In a conversation with EW, Shazam! producer Peter Safran commented that the character, and indeed the movie itself, represents “the next step in the evolution of the DC brand”, adding “You had Wonder Woman, then Aquaman (opening December 21st) is another big step, then comes Shazam! – all different movies, but all have a unique tone that moves away from the darkness of the prior DC movies”.
Levi himself echoed Safran’s statements, saying that his character is more of a rare breed of heroes these days in that he is actually excited and enthusiastic about having powers, as opposed to much of the brooding and self-doubting that we’ve seen from Superman in the past:
“It’s complete wish-fulfillment — if you scour all of DC and Marvel there are very few characters that are actually stoked to be a superhero. They’re not brooding, they’re not put out, like ‘Oh dammit, I gotta save the world again!’ Billy Batson is like Peter Parker, they’re thrilled to have these powers and can’t wait to try them out.”
It seems that DC Films is really keen to emphasise its push to produce more lighthearted movies and while a tone shift doesn’t necessarily mean a change in quality, and subsequent reception, is guaranteed, it will serve to bring real contrast when the studio does decide to put out a darker film or two such as a solo Batman film or even isolated projects like the recently announced Joaquin Phoenix Joker origin movie. Perhaps adding more variety is the new goal here and that’s certainly a good place for WB to start in refreshing the DCEU.
Shazam! flies into cinemas April 5th, 2019