The wait is over. A magic word hath been spoken. An explosion of light strikes at blinding speed. But lucky for us, that iconic lightning bolt has struck unassumingly in actor Zachary Levi. Yes folks, DC and Warner Bros. has confirmed that Zachary Levi will play Shazam.
Unfamiliar with the character? No problem. Shazam! follows the story of Billy Batson; a boy that can transform into an adult superhero with the power of six ancient heroes and Gods by uttering the word “Shazam”. Though the name itself is an acronym for the powers he possesses (the Wisdom of Solomon, the Strength of Hercules, the Stamina of Atlas, the Power of Zeus, the Courage of Achilles and the Speed of Mercury), comic fans know that it’s Billy’s youthful optimism and loyalty that serve as his greatest attributes.
So, what other news from the Rock of Eternity? Well for starters, Director David F. Sandberg (Light’s Out, Annabelle: Creations) will helm the film for New Line Cinema with a screenplay penned by Henry Gayden (Earth to Echo) and Darren Lemke (Jack the Giant Slayer). Shazam! is currently in pre-production and will start filming in February with an April 5th, 2019 release. The film’s cannon will draw from Geoff John’s retooling of the character in DC’s New 52 and will showcase the new Shazam family while staying true to C.C. Beck’s and Otto Binder’s original vision. Though Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson has been cast as Shazam’s arch nemesis Black Adam (albeit, AGES ago!), DC has confirmed that the fan-favorite villain will rock his own solo film before the two characters meet. And clash. Yet, clamoring fans still await the news on who will play Billy Batson, the ancient wizard who bestows the youth his powers, Mary, Freddy Freeman and the film’s main villain (Dr. Sivana? Mr. Mind? Both? Riddles….)
So….is this good news for the future of the DCEU? HELL’S YES!! It’s no secret that Shazam is one of the most overlooked and underused characters in DC’s pantheon of heroes. He’s a kid that faced and overcame great tragedy in an imperfect world, and with God-like potential to boot. Though Shazam outsold Superman by two million copies in the 1940’s and was the FIRST superhero to have his own film serial, fans have yet to see him reclaim his former glory after years of erosion and obscurity. FINALLY, we have an actor that’s not only a spitting image of the character but has the acting chops to balance out Shazam’s wit and youthful awkwardness with the stuff of legend.
As for Levi, this is definitely a monumental leap for his career. Let’s face it, Levi is mainly known for comedic roles (Chuck, Tangled), and tackled Fandral in the Thor movies over at the Marvel camp. Thankfully, Levi has been given the opportunity to conquer a major DC role that has been sought after by many actors (John Cena, Joshua Sasse, Alan Ritchson and Parker Young among others). Since the news broke on Friday, Levi took to Instagram sharing that he is “honored and greatly humbled” to take flight as the Golden Age hero and has reportedly started his Herculean training for the superhero role. His workout sessions last four hours a piece, so he’s clearly not wasting time.
Now that the successful Wonder Woman film set a more iconic and celebratory tone for the DCEU (with Joss Whedon brightening up the troubled Justice League film), Shazam is poised to follow suit and help his fellow superheroes out of the abysmal mess that was Batman V Superman. After all, Shazam has risen to the ranks of the JLA more than once and carried his own titles by some of the most respected talents in the industry. Jerry Ordway, Paul Dini, Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, Mike Kunkel and Alex Ross just to name a few. And speaking of DC’s flagship team, who was that guy throwing lightning bolts in the latest Justice League trailer? Salivating fans speculate that it was none other than Zeus nobly defending the Amazons, yet others hold true that it was Black Adam wielding the magic lightning in what appeared to be a flashback. Looks like only time will tell, but one thing’s for sure, now that fans have the perfect actor to play Shazam along with Dwayne Johnson thundering along as Black Adam and comic wizard Geoff Johns brightening up the tone, it looks like DC is finally making the right decisions for a successful turnaround. And though it’s taken more than 75 years for “The World’s Mightiest Mortal” to reach this defining moment, the intrepid Shazam can finally earn back the glowing praise he rightfully deserves. And with a magic word, soar upwards to greater heights for the first time all over again.