Now that it’s 2019 we are inching closer to the release of Warner Bros.’ next DC film outing, Shazam! As time ticks away toward its April release date, more about the film’s fundamentals and moving parts will become known.
Batman News is prepared for this eventuality. At a set visit last year, the news site and others were treated to revelations of what Shazam! has in store. Fans of many ages know the nuts and bolts of the premise: prepubescent Billy Batson turns into lantern-jawed superhero Captain Marvel with the shout of the titular secret word.
It’s been reinterpreted multiple ways over the years, but the heart of the story is always Batson, bestowed power by an ancient Wizard, adjusting to the dual life of a super being. All the while, he lives in the foster system, making a few close friends, including best pal Freddy Freeman (played by Jack Dylan Grazer).
Their friendship arc is the glue to the story, and the catalyst for many of the shenanigans teased in the trailer. The rest of the future Marvel Family shows up — Mary (Grace Fulton), Eugene (Ian Chen), Darla (Faithe Herman), and Pedro (Jovan Armand) — but their mutual destiny has to wait for any sequels.
Director David F. Sandberg helms Shazam!, the first live-action cinematic adaptation of the former Fawcett comic. Much like Wonder Woman, Shazam! became a campy TV show in the 70s. Since then, there was little for the property outside comic panels and animation.
Sandberg says the tone of Shazam! will be lighter and more fun, probably closer to the TV show than the ousted Zack Snyder’s vision for the Extended Universe. But the director compares it more to an 80s sci-fi adventure with young characters.
“I like to compare it to ’80s movies, like Goonies, and Ghostbusters, and Back to the Future,” Sandberg said. Shazam! sounds like it could also be compared to another 80s nostalgia trip, currently in theaters, Bumblebee.
Unlike that film, Shazam! will be set in the present day and in the world of DC heroes. That’s right, Sandberg and Warner are not repudiating the DCEU despite the tonal shift — and Toby Emmerich alleging otherwise. Sandberg puts it this way:
“I mean, it’s such a separate film that I don’t think it changed anything really. It’s very different from Justice League. It’s still the same universe but just has a very different tone. It’s not dark and gritty.”
Billy, Freddy, and the gang will have grown up in the world established by Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman where superheroes are a fact of life and turned into merchandise.
And there will be room for some darker subject matter true to the Snyder mold, and Sandberg’s usual offerings. Billy’s upbringing in the foster system is a focal point and there will be villains, some of the oldest the character has faced in Doctor Sivana (Mark Strong) and The Seven Deadly Sins, to turn the tables on his fun.
Sandberg explains the story and look for Zachary Levi are heavily influenced by the classic DC Captain Marvel adventures and, more importantly, the New 52. That 2011 relaunch started with a fresh Billy Batson who was even more immature, far from the exemplary vessel for the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed and flight of Mercury (or the power of SHAZAM) the Wizard (Djimon Hounsou) was looking for.
Mark Strong, who once played Sinestro and now portrays Sivana, is excited about the type of villainy the Doctor and his Sins bring to the table.
“Well as you all know this is the New 52 version in which he’s much more robust and much more powerful. He is a proper supervillain. He gets to fly, he can create electric fields in his hands and fire electricity.”
Batman News sums it up well when it says Shazam! is going to be the “complete cinematic experience” packed with “action, humor, and warmth along with suspense.” On April 5th, we’ll all find out for sure.
What about you? Are you excited for Shazam! yet?