Before donning the red suit and diminutive white cape of Shazam, Zachary Levi was the swashbuckling Fandral, one of Thor’s Asgardian comrades who made up The Warriors Three in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Levi took over the role, played first by Josh Dallas, in Thor: The Dark World (2013) but had very little screen presence to brag about. Then, in Thor: Ragnarok, Fandral and the rest of the Three were suddenly, and ignominiously, killed off early by Hela.
As quick as the sendoff was, Levi couldn’t be happier with the way it worked out, reports ComicBookMovie.com. The actor explained.
“If Fandral didn’t die, I might still be under contract with Marvel and I never would have been able to get this job. And I say f— that! This is the coolest thing ever. I’m so happy.”
Had he stayed, he might have liked it if Marvel Studios explored Fandral and the other Warriors, Volstagg (Ray Stevenson) and Hogun (Tadanobu Asano), more, maybe in their own movie. Levi hoped deeper arcs would materialize, something that drew him to the character, and laments that opportunity never happened.
“When I got cast as Fandral in ‘Thor: The Dark World’, though I wasn’t able to do it, I knew that the Warriors Three could be really fun characters if they ever developed them. They just didn’t. They didn’t.”
Marvel’s slate at the time looked very different. The Inhumans were supposed to get a movie rather than a TV miniseries and Infinity War was going to be split into two movies.
Obviously, plans were subject to change. Inhumans turned into arguably the MCU’s biggest blunder and Marvel had to reshuffle the deck slightly. If a Warriors Three movie was ever talked about it was out of the question to Kevin Feige by that point.
Levi is far from the only one let go by Marvel to find greener pastures with Warner and DC. Patty Jenkins, prior to her success on Wonder Woman, was set to direct Thor: The Dark World but left because of misgivings about the project. Most recently, James Gunn was fired from Guardians of the Galaxy over old tweets of a disturbing nature and is now at work on Suicide Squad 2.
In a fun bit of irony, Thor faced and defeated Shazam in the Marvel vs. DC crossover event of the 1990s. Between that tidbit in comic history and Zachary Levi’s dissatisfaction with Marvel thanks to the Thor movies, things are personal in a way.
We’ll see if Levi and DC have the last laugh when Shazam! hits theaters on April 5th.