With all the excitement over – and disappointment in – the recently-released Suicide Squad, that movie has dominated most of the discussion of Warner Bros.’ DC Extended Universe. The remaining discussion has largely been about Justice League, which saw its first trailer debuted at San Diego Comic-Con 2016 and a new metallic, battle-scarred logo just this week, as well as Wonder Woman, which also debuted a well-received Comic-Con trailer.
One DCEU movie that has gotten lost in the shuffle is the Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson-produced Shazam!, in which Johnson will play the villainous Black Adam. It has already been confirmed that Shazam! will be a part of the same universe as Justice League, but not much has been known of exactly how it will fit into that universe. Now, however, the first details have emerged.
Johnson’s producing partner and manager, Dany Garcia, spoke to Newsweek about Shazam!, and offered some clarification about the movie’s place in the greater DCEU. According to Garcia, it will not exactly fit the template set out by other DCEU films such as Man of Steel and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice:
“Shazam! is to live in the same world [as the other films] but we have incredible autonomy over this brand and franchise. We are working with a different team, different producers, directors… it’s a different set-up. … We don’t feel fettered by, or constrained by, the successes or failures and challenges of the other projects. That was a key component to our participation — that we be able to control the tone and the voice, and do it the way we want to.”
That doesn’t mean, however, that Shazam! will not share any similarities with its siblings. According to Garcia, the continued expansion of the DCEU offers new opportunities to offer different voices within it while still not abandoning its core:
“It needs to be of the world. You’ve got Justice League, Wonder Woman with a different director, so you’re going to see different points of view. I think by the time we land with [Shazam!] we’ll fit nicely within the world that’s been created, but not such a shorthand relationship. [It’ll be] enough that people say, ‘Oh, this is within the family,’ but the culture will be a little different.”
With Shazam! not due to be released until April of 2019, Garcia and Johnson still have plenty of time to work on it, and Garcia says they’re taking full advantage of it to make sure they get it just right:
“We’re getting [script] drafts in… it’s important to make sure we get the tone right for Black Adam, which is Dwayne’s part. We don’t mind taking our time. We’re being very careful with each act and scene to go back and layer in as much as possible. … We’ve got so many wonderful superhero franchises out there… we don’t need to run away from them and say ‘we can’t be that,’ but it’s important to understand what are the best aspects of a Batman [movie] versus Avengers versus Deadpool? What are the elements people are responding to? We want to move the needle.”
Suicide Squad, while successful financially, has been another largely critical miss for Warner Bros. It was seen by many as an opportunity for the studio to course-correct on all the issues that plagued Batman V Superman, but studio meddling reportedly led to what was ultimately deemed by many to be a tonal and editing mess. If the studio learns one lesson from its latest film, hopefully it is to give its filmmakers a little more leeway to bring their own vision to the screen, and by the time Shazam! hits theaters it will truly reflect the vision that Garcia and Rock have had for it.
Suicide Squad is in theaters now. Wonder Woman opens on June 2, 2017; Justice League on November 17, 2017; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam! on April 5, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020. The Flash, the Batman solo movie and Man of Steel 2 are currently without release dates.