I don’t know if there’s a superhero movie I’m more excited about than Shazam!…maybe Aquaman…but the fact that the next two DC Films to enter production are two of my all-time favorite superheroes is a big pipe dream for me. If they ever make a Legion of Super-Heroes movie, they’ll basically check off all my childhood boxes!
What really impresses me about this Shazam! production is that it’s clear that WB/DC Films is moving full steam ahead despite the major bump in the road that was Justice League (a movie I actually kind of liked, to be clear), and Shazam marks the first new superhero franchise in this world since they rolled out Wonder Woman, Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Production began this week, so it’s coming fanboys and fangirls, and as such WB and their subsidiary New Line, released the below press, which includes a pretty detailed synopsis:
BURBANK, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Production is underway on New Line Cinema’s “Shazam!” David F. Sandberg (“Annabelle: Creation”) directs the origin story, which stars Zachary Levi (TV’s “Chuck”) as the titular DC Super Hero, along with Asher Angel (TV’s “Andi Mack”) as Billy Batson, and Mark Strong (the “Kingsman” movies) in the role of Super-Villain Dr. Thaddeus Sivana. Peter Safran (upcoming “Aquaman,” “The Conjuring” and “Annabelle” films) serves as the film’s producer.
We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s (Angel) case, by shouting out one word—SHAZAM!—this streetwise 14-year-old foster kid can turn into the adult Super Hero Shazam (Levi), courtesy of an ancient wizard. Still a kid at heart—inside a ripped, godlike body—Shazam revels in this adult version of himself by doing what any teen would do with superpowers: have fun with them! Can he fly? Does he have X-ray vision? Can he shoot lightning out of his hands? Can he skip his social studies test? Shazam sets out to test the limits of his abilities with the joyful recklessness of a child. But he’ll need to master these powers quickly in order to fight the deadly forces of evil controlled by Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Strong).
“Shazam!” also stars Jack Dylan Grazer (“IT”) as Billy’s best friend and ultimate superhero enthusiast, Freddy, part of the foster family that includes Mary, played by Grace Fulton (“Annabelle: Creation”); Darla, played by Faithe Herman (TV’s “This is Us”); Eugene, played by Ian Chen (TV’s “Fresh Off the Boat”); and Pedro, played by Jovan Armand (TV’s “Hawaii Five-O”). Cooper Andrews (TV’s “The Walking Dead”) and Marta Milans (TV’s “Killer Women”) play foster parents Victor and Rosa Vasquez, with Ron Cephas Jones (“This is Us”) as the Wizard.
Christopher Godsick, Jeffrey Chernov, Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia and Hiram Garcia are serving as executive producers.
Sandberg’s creative team includes his “Annabelle: Creation” director of photography Maxime Alexandre, production designer Jennifer Spence, editor Michel Aller and costume designer Leah Butler.
Set primarily in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, principal photography for the film is taking place in Toronto.
Firmly set in the DC universe but with his own distinctly fun, family-centric tone, the character first appeared in Whiz Comics in 1940 and was created by Bill Parker and C.C. Beck.
A New Line Cinema production, “Shazam!” is set for release on April 5, 2019. It will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company
As you can tell from the above, there are three major takeaways here…
- It’s very clear that they are pulling deeply from the Geoff Johns/New 52 redo of the character, based on the usage of characters like Eugene, Darla and Pedro, and just the general set-up of what I have to assume is the group foster home. Sivana will probably take up the role inhabited by Black Adam in that story, to some degree. Mark Strong has apparently been working out for the role.
- Speaking of Black Adam, Dwayne Johnson is listed as an executive producer. That may just be a contractual thing, but he’s still supposed to be playing Black Adam at some point in our nation’s history. Perhaps in Suicide Squad 2?
- The PR here also confirms this is a movie 100% set in the DC universe, so other characters could easily cameo (and there are rumors about of a Superman appearance); but I also couldn’t help but zero in on the “distinctly fun, family-centric tone”. Batman v Superman this isn’t.
Expect a costume reveal sooner rather than later.
Entertainment Editor for The Beat covering film, television and the occasional comic book. His work can also be found at GeekRex.com and can be heard on the GeekRex podcast. Also, your go-to Grant Morrison/Love & Rockets/Hellboy/Legion of Super-Heroes expert.