Home Entertainment Movies SHAZAM! begins production and gets a synopsis

SHAZAM! begins production and gets a synopsis


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:

Production Starts on New Line Cinema’s Magical Super Hero Action Adventure “Shazam!”

David F. Sandberg helms the ensemble, with Zachary Levi in the title role and Asher Angel starring as his young counterpart

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…

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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.


  1. Is it unusual that New Line Cinema is producing?
    Is that to keep it away from the DCEU producers?
    Is this a test to see if New Line can produce DC properties? Vertigo films?

  2. New Line had been developing it before Warner Bros absorbed them. It’s probably due to pre-existing production deals prior to that, just hazarding a guess.

  3. Shazam/Captain Marvel has been my favorite super-hero my entire life. I grew up with the live-action 1970s series. I love the Tom Tyler movie serial from the 1940s. But I have zero confidence that this will be any good.

    DC does not understand this property. Geoff Johns does not understand this property. At its core, the Shazam concept is very Dickensian in nature. Yes, there is humor in it (as there is in much of Charles Dickens’ work), but it’s also a melodrama with tragedy at its foundation:

    — Billy Batson is an orphan living on the streets

    — His uncle absconds with Billy’s trust fund

    — Freddy Freeman was crippled and his grandfather killed by a literal Nazi

    — Mary Bromfield was Billy Batson’s twin sister (Mary Batson) who was switched at birth with a stillborn baby that a wealthy woman had given birth to (which a dying nurse confesses to on her deathbed), so she grows up in privileged circumstances while her long-lost heretofore unknown brother lived on the streets

    — Mr. Mind is a literal mass murderer/serial killer

    — Black Adam was an authoritarian tyrant who subjugated his own people

    The above isn’t a retcon. This is the actual content of the original stories. They’re much darker at their core than people remember (or care to remember). Again, yes there is humor, but there’s a lot of darkness, too. In other words, Dickensian.

    Instead, WB wants to make this “Big” with super powers.

    I know it’s not a popular opinion, but the modern version of this character/concept that was most successful at adhering to the roots of the original concept was the Roy Thomas/Tom Mandrake version from the 1980s, “Shazam! The New Beginning” (recently re-released as a hardcover Deluxe Edition).

    I loved the Snyder-verse (which I don’t think is the appropriate approach to this particular character), but the micro-managing that WB executives (and I include Geoff Johns in this) did on “Justice League” (which I despised) gives me no hope that they have any idea what they’re doing. Even if the talent behind the camera gets it, I have no confidence that WB management won’t swoop in and screw everything up.

  4. I wanted to add just how much I liked the underwater combat scenes between Aquaman and Steppenwolf. Atlanteans aren’t my favourite fantasy-people-types, but those fighting/throwing scenes were spectacular.

    Thanks for that Dickensian insight, Daniel, awsome. I’m not truly familiar with root of character but savoured his appearances in 80s DC limited series, and Bronze age appearances. Be good to see a character-toned movie, cool.

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