There may be little known about the hero known by his signature phrase, but Warner Bros. is looking to make Shazam a household name. The hero (formerly known as ‘Captain Marvel’) was first rumored to be one of the studio’s top priorities in the coming years, with some reports claiming that Billy Batson’s magical journey toward superheroism would take place at the same time as that of the Justice League juggernauts.
The exact plan is still being kept quiet as Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice rolls towards kick-starting the DC’s movie universe, but with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson now freely confirming that he’s landed the role of antagonist Black Adam, one question remains: who will he be fighting? And just what actor can fill the role of a hulking superhero AND the young boy beneath the muscles?
Assuming Johnson won’t be pulling double-duty (and that Jason Momoa’s role hasn’t been grossly misunderstood), the answer largely relies on just what direction the studio will take with the property. But we’ve tried to cover our bases with the following list of 6 Actors Who Could Play Shazam.
In this modern age of superhero blockbusters, it tends to seem that major characters are locked down for the foreseeable future, ruling them out of additional roles (especially in another studio’s property). But it’s become quite clear that regardless of how important and compelling a character Piotr Rasputin a.k.a. Colossus may be in the “X-Men” comics, Cudmore’s portrayal isn’t deemed ‘spotlight material’ for Bryan Singer’s X-Men movie series.
It would be an exaggeration to say that Cudmore’s talents, and Colossus in general has been wasted, with a few action scenes in the three X-Men films he’s appeared in (an exaggeration that many fans would agree with). But there’s no denying the actor is capable of more than audiences have seen. Beyond his 6’7″ frame (which helped him in pursuing the lead in Superman Returns) and possessing a ‘look’ similar to that of Shazam in the comics, we’d say his time in the background – and stunt performances – has earned him a close look.
It may not have been expected, but to this point, pre-existing relationships with Disney and Warner Bros. haven’t helped many actors land big screen superhero roles. Even so, Smallville alum Alan Ritchson deserves more than just lip service. With the honor of being the first actor to portray Aquaman in live action, Ritchson has made his mark on a number of films thanks to his statue-esque build and leading man looks.
Thankfully, Ritchson showed off a funnier side in the like of Blue Mountain State, while proving that he can still be just as imposing in a feature film in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Surprisingly, Ritchson proved much of his leading man potential beneath layers of CGI and special effects – as the stand-out ‘Raphael’ in Jonathan Liebesman’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Turtle or no, if WB is beginning their search with an actor that could stand against a man like ‘The Rock,’ Ritchson isn’t out of the question.
We’ve gone into detail on the reasons why a Shazam movie is a no-brainer for Warner Bros., since the idea of a little boy suddenly finding himself in a superhero’s body sells itself. But even grown men would jump for joy if they one day found themselves resembling Joe Manganiello (True Blood, Magic Mike). And in recent years, the actor’s dedication to fitness – as well as more comedic roles – has, unsurprisingly, landed him on the casting radar forDC’s biggest heroes.
It was Manganiello himself who teased that he had at least spoken with WB about portraying Superman in Man of Steel, later adding that an older Bruce Wayne/Batman would also be a dream come true. A main hurdle for any such roles was the actor’s commitment to HBO’s True Blood, and with the series now completed, the self-professed “fanboy at heart” could be more likely than ever. His standout turn in Magic Mike showed that his comedy chops aren’t to be overlooked, and if WB is looking for another Superman-level hero, a clean-shaven Manganiello fits the bill.
Sure, it might seem like casting Chris Hemworth’s brother as a magical, god-like being whose main weapon relies on a bolt of lightning may seem a little bitter on WB’s part. But it’s worth remembering that before the role of Marvel’s ‘Thor’ had been cast, it was Liam Hemsworth, not Chris, who was sitting on the short list. It’s unsurprising, since both brothers possess similar looks, size, and the uncanny ability of playing old-fashioned American heroes.
A part of the Hemsworth charm has turned out to be a youthful charm, with Liam winning over hearts with his optimism and rebellious spirit in The Hunger Games series. With the next two films set to feature Hemsworth in a much greater and action-focused light, it could trigger a wealth of suitors suddenly convinced he’s leading man/action hero material. It may seem too obvious to believe, but Marvel’s experience in spotting up-and-coming talent shouldn’t be underestimated.
It’s not hard to see why Welsh-born actor Owain Yeoman (Extant, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) has made his way onto many fan-favorite lists for the role, standing at 6’3″ and sporting looks about as close as possible to that of the comic book version of Shazam. Yeoman may have had brief roles in projects like Generation Kill and Troy alongside plenty of other action stars, but it’s his role on The Mentalist that will make him familiar to most TV fans.
That series showcases Yeoman’s mix of boyish clueless-ness with a likable charm – all well-served for a big screen version of Shazam – but its his role opposite Bradley Cooper (Guardians of the Galaxy) in the short-lived Kitchen Confidential that showed his comedic timing is more than just oblivious glances. If Shazam is aiming to be the broader comedy that it’s been reported as, then an actor as proven – but lesser-known – as Yeoman could work.
There are few actors who can claim to have been cast to play a movie version of a “Justice League” hero, but despite his less-than-stellar blockbuster resume since, Armie Hammer (The Lone Ranger, Mirror, Mirror) is one of them. After his casting in George Miller’s doomed Justice League: Mortal that made Hammer once again rumored for Batman when word of a planned Justice League movie first broke.
Since then, Hammer has shown that while he may have the looks for (a youthful) Bruce Wayne, he’s something of a natural when it comes to physical comedy and lighthearted action. It was largely because of that talent that he was rumored for Marvel’s Ant-Man on almost no evidence, and why we (still) see him as a potential big screen Flash. Since those roles demand the same unlikely rise to heroism as Billy Batson’s, DC and WB should consider Hammer (and likely already have) if their sights are set on a younger hero.
That concludes our list of actors that we feel could play the boyish, amazed, and physically comedic Shazam on the big screen. It should be apparent from our broad range of choices that just who WB and DC decide upon will be a good indicator of how connected to the larger Justice League series Shazam will be.
What are your hopes for a live-action take on Shazam? Do you think the new reboot has shown how the hero can be woven into the likes of Superman or Batman’s story, or is a more comedic take on the material your hope?
Leave your thoughts in the comments.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.
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