While Zachary Levi’s smile once graced Marvel’s cinematic Asgard, it will now belong to Captain Marvel. No, the other Captain Marvel.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Chuck actor has been cast as the superhero identity of Billy Batson in Warner Bros. Pictures Shazam! The film is based on the Captain Marvel created by Bill Parker and C.C Beck in Whiz Comics #2. The strip centered on a young boy who encounters a strange old wizard and is given a magic word which transforms him into the world’s mightiest mortal. Gifted with 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, Billy fought crime, mad science and copyright lawsuits as Captain Marvel in the pages of Whiz; published by DC Comics rival Fawcett Publications. For a time in the 1940s, he was the most popular superhero character on the planet.
Naturally DC did not like this state of the affairs and claimed the character was a rip-off of their Superman.
DC’s copyright claims eventually moved Fawcett to cease publication Captain Marvel comics in 1953. DC licensed the character two decades later and eventually bought him and other related characters outright in the 1990s. Because Marvel filed the trademark to the name in 1960s, the character was identified as Shazam! on comic book covers while continuing to be called Captain Marvel in the interior pages. DC finally renamed him “Shazam” in the 2011 New 52 reboot.
And if you want to make things even more confusing, celebrated British comic book character Marvelman (or Miracleman) was also based on The Big Red Cheese. He would also go on to star in his own courtroom drama in the late 1990s and early part of this century.
Lights Out director David F. Sandberg will helm the picture with writers Henry Gayden and Darren Lemke handling script duties.
Curiously, Captain Marvel’s best known adversary, Black Adam, is being held back for a feature film of his own starring Dwayne Johnson — at least for the moment — so it is unclear who Billy will face in the film. But it would not be the least bit surprising to see a certain Jackie Earle Haley cast as Doctor Sivana in the next few weeks.
Shazam! will likely start production in February of next year.