While Shazam (formerly Captain Marvel) is the face of Warner Bros. Pictures’ upcoming Shazam!, it’s soul is Billy Batson. As revealed in various Captain Marvel comics, the boy is gifted — or cursed — with a magic word which transforms him into the World’s Mightiest Mortal. Utilizing 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 fights mad scientists, his own dark mirror adversary, and a surprisingly large menagerie of monsters and talking animals.
And, according to The Holywood Reporter, Billy will be played by actor Asher Angel, a veteran of the Disney Channel’s Andi Mack. Curiously, the report indicates he will appear “opposite” star Zachary Levi, who will play Shazam or Captain Marvel depending on Warner Bros, DC Entertainment and director David F. Sandberg’s ultimate decision on what to call the Big Red Cheese. Meanwhile, the notion that Levi and Angel will appear on screen together seems odd considering the premise.
Of course, the naming issue makes we wonder about the Wizard Shazam. Levi could play both parts (enabling the two actors to work together on screen). There’s also the possibility that the Wizard will just be called “the Wizard,” or, perhaps, not appear in the film at all. Granted, that last possibility seems unlikely as Warner Bros. loves its origin stories.
But as Shazam! moves toward production, I find myself more and more fascinated with it. For one: there’s the uncertainty about the character’s name despite DC re-dubbing him “Shazam” in the New 52 reboot. Then there’s Sandberg himself, a director of fine horror features, coming into something that should be bright and colorful. Add to that the fact that Mark Strong is in talks to play Dr. Sivana and you get something that may be very different from the DC-inspired films thus far.
Oh, and there’s that Black Adam connection.
Shazam! is expected to go into production early next year, but has not yet been scheduled for release.