How ‘Man of Steel’ Killed The ‘Shazam’ Movie – For Now

Published 7 months ago by

Man of Steel Killed Shazam Movie How Man of Steel Killed The Shazam Movie   For Now

Warner Bros. and DC Comics may have been late to the party of comic book movies in a ‘shared universe,’ but there’s no denying that Man of Steel has set in motion a plan – or at least a shared foundation – for the company to adapt most of their main superheroes onto the big screen.

But what does that mean for characters like Shazam!, who seemed to be heading to the screen before Superman arrived on the scene? Unfortunately for fans of the magical hero, it seems that Warner Bros. has deemed the box office big enough for just one of the two, at least for the time being.

It’s possible that DC movie fans who are new to the party may not be aware of the fact that when DC and WB were gearing up to develop not one, but several origin films (before Green Lantern helped bring those plans screeching to a halt), the magical Captain Marvel was chief among them, with a script all but completed and director Peter Segal (Grudge Match) attached to direct.

As we all know, those plans also failed to get off the ground, and in an interview with ComingSoon, Segal helped explain why he believes that Superman’s big screen presence makes a Shazam! film a long shot:

“The thing is, Shazam has always lived this tortured life going against Superman. This dates back to the 1930s. Because Captain Marvel had similar powers to Superman, the DC folks back then sued what was the most popular comic book on the stands at that time. Years later, they bought it and it became a DC property but, as long as Superman stays hot in the market place, there seems like a little bit of a crossover between the two characters. After Bryan Singer’s “Superman Returns,” it seemed like there was a moment in time where Shazam was going to see the light of day. That’s when you heard those stories. Now that Superman is being invigorated and going up against Batman, I think it’s difficult for DC to figure out how to launch this character in the wake of Superman’s resurgence.”

Superman Shazam Comic Fight How Man of Steel Killed The Shazam Movie   For Now

Segal definitely isn’t wrong in pointing out that while Captain Marvel’s similarities to Superman may have helped the comic succeed in the early days, they make a big screen adaptation more problematic than it otherwise would be. In terms of an origin story, of course, the tale of Shazam! couldn’t be more different; Billy Batson stumbles onto a magical word (“Shazam!”) which turns him into an enormous, musclebound superhero.

Sure, Captain Marvel commands respect for being the only ‘true’ rival of Superman (at least in a fight), but the only real difference between the two once is that one owes his superhuman abilities to his alien physiology, while the other is blessed with magical gifts – something that even Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder’s camp might have a hard time making believable in their grounded universe.

Then again, it would seem that Peter Segal’s past experiences with films like 50 First Dates, Get Smart and now Grudge Match would imply that a serious, grounded look at every little boy’s dream come true was never the plan. Perhaps most surprisingly, Segal went on to address the notion that his failed Shazam! movie would have been laugh-filled, or kid-friendly:

“Well, it wasn’t. I was working with Geoff Johns. At its core, it’s a lot like Superman. There’s this boy trapped inside of a superhero’s body. He’s still a boy inside, so there’s this opportunity to play a lot of humor with the action. Originally, Stan Lee brought me “Fantastic Four” a number of years for that very reason. I always have the question when people bring me superhero properties, “Why me?” With Stan, he said, “It’s because there’s a sense of humor within all Marvel characters.” These characters are flawed and, within those flaws, there is humor. When Toby Emmerich came to me with Shazam, it was because of those same reasons. To draw from that humor and to mix it with great action and pathos. I’ve always loved Shazam, but I don’t know if it’s going to see the light of day anytime soon.”

Superman Shazam Return of Black Adam How Man of Steel Killed The Shazam Movie   For Now

In hindsight, Segal and the studio’s efforts to distance the character from Superman seem evident: first going with the official title of Billy Batson and the Legend of Shazam, and now hearing that the script included humor, but wasn’t going to alienate older audiences who took the source material seriously. Any comic fan knows that Captain Marvel’s nemesis Black Adam isn’t kid-friendly in any sense of the word, so we would maintain that a mature take on the comic could still work, if handled properly.

However, even if the child-turned-hero would offer Henry Cavill’s Man of Steel a worthy adversary on film, there’s no avoiding the fact that audiences have seen a similar fight once already. Not to mention that trying to launch two similar heroes would at the very worst have Shazam! pale in comparison, and at the very best split audiences for either movie. So for the time being – and we never thought we’d say this – Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman will have to do.

Do you think Shazam! could work on the big screen? Or do you agree with Segal that despite his potential, the similarities to Superman are too obvious to ignore for mass audiences? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

Source: ComingSoon

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TAGS: man of steel, shazam, superman

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  1. I agree Shazam has a alot of powers as Superman, But at its core and how Hollywood can spin it , is that it appeals to both kids and adults more than Superman. Shazam is a kid who becomes a superhero but he is essentially still a kid, There can be humor, adventure, a kid not knowing how to deal with situations and somehow finding the simplest kiddy way to defeat an enemy . It has all he Hallmarks of being a great movie if done right and not being compared to Superman.

  2. Forget Shazam… If they could not do Green Lantern right they absolutely will not get Shazam right. I would love somehow for Black Adam to get into a DC movie though. It may have to be a full out Justice League movie & likely won’t happen as they need a bigger villain than Black Adam but it would be nice to somehow get him involved. Black Adam is by far one of DC’s most underrated villains & I wouldn’t even mind seeing him transferred into a Superman villain.

  3. You can only have so many Flying Bricks.

  4. I never liked Captain Marvel, the whole idea looks like teen’s dream. So maybe its good for kids to relate him. But if you do movie for kids that will have connection to DC movies nowadays it will just waste money. If you do it more like New 52 Shazam(only read stuff from JL) his story is more dark, has some touch with reality but i still couldn’t get interested. That said he does work as a secondary character that will make you wonder if he is the answer to the end of said story. So pushing him in some JL should be ok from my point of view.

  5. @Dude, “genetically engineered” Shazam? Really? Really? Here on a comment thread you’re going to come up with a way to rip out the essence of the character? Seriously?

  6. I agree with the fact that due to DC’s grittier tone it will be hard to ground this movie, but even so, this done right could open huge doors to the DC’s magical universe much like Thor has now opened up room to explore Dr. Strange.

    Risks are what success is made of!

  7. I LOVE DC…
    IM not an expert on movies but, i think a shazam movie with the story line as a KID dealing with super powers could be good for profit, kids need a lite movie too from DC than bat and sup and i think DC need a movie like that between dark one to refresh the public

    lets face it, marvel does it with their films, if, kids love it… movie will be most of the time profitable, we dont talking about just scripts etc, but a good investment on FX CGI a fun history because most of youngster wont go by them self to a movie theater with few exceptions so the adults also will go, it will be a nice entry to show some new villains or superheroes no to famous and share them with this type of movie then use then if need it in a more dark movie with the pros, but the adults will be more interesting on those characters because they new about them on a shazam movie

    remember marvel movies most of the time are just “fun to watch for the whole family” zero or few dark parts

    that’s the best part from the point of view of profit “family time” new movies are most of the time pg13 they pushing to stay on that rating to make the whole family go to the theater, hey it is not a bad idea $$ if you can make more money making everybody from the family go to watch a movie

    from that point shazam can help DC JMO

  8. IF superman vs. batman EXPLODES at the box office, superman versus shazam/capt. marvel WILL happen. most def.

  9. He’s just a Superman copy anyway. Has enough of Superman in Man of Steel

  10. I would love to see Shazaam on the big screen I think it would work if they brought in his own movie first going against Black Adam and then was recruited by Superman in the Justice Legue Movie along with Batman, and Wonderwomen Same with Flash both Shazaam and Flash should have there own films before they Join the justice League regarding Green Lantern, I believe they should continue the Series with Ryan Renolds only make the outfit more believable the flight sceens more intensive like they did with Superman and the Battle sceens more intense like when he goes against the yellow Lantern then Later Green Lantern also gets Recruited in the Justice League along with Wonder Women, Batman, Superman, Flash and Shazaam

  11. just get Pixar to make it

  12. They could never find a believable way to merge Shazaam into the grounded universe of Man of Steel.. Forget it!

  13. The young child-y alongside the darker tone would help the ‘SHAZAM!’ be very appropriate. If Wonder Woman’s Olympian relations are kept in the DC Live-Action Universe, that alone will reference the SHAZAM! inherence’s existence.

  14. …Well, I’m just gonna say, I don’t think Shazam is even really needed for Justice League, but I don’t know if he’s a character that can hold a franchise on his own, yet.

    My advice is give it another decade, til WB (hopefully,) starts focusing more on the new generation of heroes and we get a Young Justice/Teen Titans movie. He could actually be a likable version of Super Boy (because Kon-El usually comes off as a huge dick.) That, in itself, could be another side story with Kon and Billy eventually becoming friends by films end.

    Alternatively, he can easily be shipped into the JLD-Verse, since I don’t even think WB is going to recognize Justice League Dark. If that’s the case, then by default Shazam becomes arguably the most powerful force (maybe below a few god-tier characters like The Specter, The Stranger, etc.) in the DC Mystic Universe. The Mystical Man of Steel if you will.

  15. Personally, for this movie to succeed it needs to convey a strong message, which in my mind, makes the best Super Hero movies. One reason why Man Of Steel was really good. But, spider-man is my fav because of his messages through morality throughout the spider-man series and movies. Shazam is a, I dunno, an OVERrated character? The idea is silly really. BUT if they did make it it wouldn’t gather such a crowd UNLESS they deliver a solid Moral Story imo.

  16. I don’t know if there is a Shazam/Captain Marvel in New 52 yet. Since the movies love to echo the modern comics and vice versa, Scott Lobdell can get cracking on this one.

    And change Wonder Woman’s race to match that of the new actress. She had a body swap with a Jewish assassin like Psylocke. Or that was Fabian Nicieza. Well this has been quite the awful trip down 90′s comics memory lane hasn’t it?

  17. OK, I’ve got to speak up on this subject. DC/WB owns the character Captain Marvel (Shazam). They have treated him pathetically as a second fiddle to Superman. Marvel copyrighted the title “Captain Marvel” thereby blocking DC from publishing THE REAL Captain Marvel from having comics published with his name as the title. Marvel then proceeds to go thru various incarnations of “Captain Marvel”, most of them second rate characters. DC has mistreated the character and Marvel has disrespected the name and title. Here’s what needs to happen. DC needs to sell the real Captain Marvel to Marvel, who can then publish comics, make movies, etc., using the real character and the correct name. An added benefit to that is the next time there’s a Marvel/DC crossover, they’d have compatible characters to compete as opposed to the SUPERMAN/Hulk fight in the last one. One last thing, when one of you publishing execs reads this and acts on it,you can pretend it was your idea but I want my cut.

    • Ummm, happyman…

      You felt the need to speak up; I feel the need to respond.

      Shazam was one of the few (though increasing in number) DC heroes to have his own live-action series (granted, it was a Saturday morning show in the ’70s, but that IS how seriously superheroes were taken at that point…hence, why “Superman: The Movie” stunned a whole generation…in a great way). In the comics, he taught Superman how to be human again after the tragic events of “Kingdom Come”…he was, indeed, the lynchpin to the entire story. More recently, the “New52″ version was responsible (while attempting to treat a fallen foe honorably) for bringing three JL teams together geographically (granted, unintentionally), thus contributing to the start of the Trinity War.

      Marvel’s ONE version of a Shazam-like character (a human blessed–cursed?–with the power of Superman) is Sentry…a schizophrenic, walking parody of Superman.

      So…WHO is disrespecting WHAT?

      In short: In answer to YOUR solution to a supposed problem…ummm, NO.

  18. Hey Arch, hows it going? You are a long time screen ranter, thanks for the response. I respect your opinion but I st
    and by mine. I cant argue the new 52 with you cuz I’m unfamaliar with it. I will grant you that there are SOME great stories featuring Cap, but for the most of my comic reading career he was on a back burner to Superman. That point really cant be argued with me. By the way, I’m plenty old enough to remember that Saturday mornning show. I haven’t thought about that in a long time. Do you remember what came on after it? Here’s a hint: “Oh mighty _________”. Second hint, she was hot. Lol. Seriously tho, wouldn’t you be curious what Marvel would do with that property? Maybe they could trade properties, Captain Marvel for Daredevil, something like that.

    • Why, because you see it that way?
      i see the opposite, marvel only copyright the name but they dont have a real history to show, beside as you know all the history and encounters with superman and other superheroes from DC make this KID marvel, plus they can realize lite movies and dark ones with him, things that marvel just go to the fun side and no so good histories

      Shazam!
      even that name can be exploited if they use their brain, i imagine kids coming out of the movie theater saying that name, because they enjoy the movie JMO

    • happyman…

      Hey…I hope your year is ending on a good note and that 2014 is solid and positive for you and yours. :)

      Fair enough about the fact that Shazam has always played (and likely will continue to play) second fiddle to Superman. Given the characters and their histories, that is to be expected. As for whether Marvel would do any better with Billy Batson and his alter ego…I think their approach would probably be different and might even be quite interesting. I just don’t think it would actually be BETTER…simply because Marvel would HAVE to keep him as a second a stringer so as not to overshadow their own NATIVE characters.

      Finally, with regard to ISIS ( :) ), I loved watching her adventures and loved EVEN more that her world was the same as Captain Marvel’s (BTW, showing that DC had a basic idea of how to do a universal crossover, at least on a small scale, DECADES ago ;) )…

      Happy New Year…

      • HA, so you do remember Isis! Showing your age dude, showing your age:)
        Happy new year

  19. Man, I’d LOVE to see a Shazam movie. It’s like the film BIG, but as a super hero instead. What kid wouldn’t want to see that? And I’m sure they’ll make it in a way that adults can enjoy too. Can you please make a light-hearted DC movie? Dark and broody is good and all, but it’s nice to be able to laugh and smile during a super hero film too.

    • Agreed, a Shazam movie needs to be a bit more light-hearted. It also should be set in the 40′s because Capt. Marvel is a big Boy Scout at heart (like Cap America but even more so) Do away with that insanely lame modern (hood?), lightening flashed eyes and gritty look he’s had recently and take him back to his gee whiz roots please. One more thing, I grew up reading/watching him in the 70′s and rarely was ever a mention of Black Adam (mainly just an old reprint from the 40′s) Ive never considered B.A as Caps main adversary, Sivana absolutely, even Mr. Mind maybe….but Adam? c’mon…for some reason younger fans seem to think Adam is the last name in Caps villains…he always was way down the list as I remember..but whatever, do Cap old style or leave him alone…

  20. Just say ” Shazam !” during a thunderstorm and you will get a heavens sent response…say superman and you will hear the John Williams music in your head….Tim Burton should be the one to film,direct it….he did a fantastic job with Batman….still the best bat movie of all time….

  21. I would love to see Shazam on Big screen. Yes, he have similar Powers to Superman. But dont forget the Superman has his Power from the yellow Sun and Shazam has his Power from the greek Gods. Billy Batson is a Orphange and Clark Kent was raised up by Jonathan and Martha Kent. Supermans Nemesis are Lex Luthor, Zod, Darkseid. Shazam´s are Black Adam and Doctor Sirvana. You see he is not that similar that people think. I want to see both of them on big Screen. Superman and Shazam. Not necessery vs but together, fighting Darkseid and Black Adam.

  22. I think it be as good of an idea as when Shaquille O’Neil was doing that Shazam movie.
    DC should get him to play it & the rock to play the green lantern so then they really seem like they don’t want to compare to marvel movies

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