The release of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice did more than just mark the first time the two most iconic superheroes of all time faced off on the big screen. It also marked the next step in the DC Extended Universe, setting in motion a series of events that will ripple through movies for years to come.

Already, we’ve got Suicide Squad just on the horizon, which many fans are hoping will be a welcome addition to the burgeoning universe. A common criticism of Batman V Superman was its dark, more self-serious tone, one that may have left some fans worried future entries would follow the same model. Assuaging those fears has been Geoff Johns, who is eager to bring “hope and optimism” to the DCEU and its characters, something Hiram Garcia, the producer of the upcoming Shazam! adaptation, seems  confident his movie will have.

Garcia, producer at Seven Bucks Productions, recently spoke with Comic Book about the work being done on that movie, promising fans the upcoming entry into DCEU canon will match the spirit and tone of its comic book counterpart, and be a ray of light in the shared universe it exists in.

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“We’re a good way into development. We’re expecting a next draft soon which I think is really gonna put us in the zone that we’re hoping for. The great thing with Shazam for me as a fan, I was always a fan of Superman and his mythology as I grew up. I remember it was Alex Ross’s Kingdom Come that was the first time that ever made me look at Shazam just differently. I just knew of Shazam, you know the name, you knew the word, but I thought Alex Ross… He portrayed him and drew him in that epic kind of conflict that him and Superman ultimately had. It just made me look at Shazam in way like this is a bad motherf***er.”

Hearing the news that Shazam! is well into development is no doubt exciting. The film is set to star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (Furious 7), with whom Garcia runs Seven Bucks Productions, as Shazam villain Black Adam. While Garcia remained mum on specifics of the plot and development, he promised that the movie would retain the fun atmosphere of the comics.

“Our take on that world is first and foremost, movies like that can be grounded and can have real stakes but can still be fun. That’s the place we always want it to come from. We have a character in Shazam that is a boy who is in this man’s body who is having the ultimate fulfillment that I think all comic book fans and everyone can associate with. Like, what if you wake up one day and you can just do all this great stuff? And then on the other side, you have this force of nature who is really anchored by what he lost in his family and that thread that he’s bringing with him throughout this journey. There’s a real grounding there. That combination of youth and enthusiasm and being in new to a world and then the place that Adam’s coming from. It makes for a great dynamic that not only allows us to have not only real stakes, real story, and real emotion, but a ton of fun in the process. There’s no reason that there should ever be a version of this story told that’s devoid of that. That’s our goal in doing this: following the path of the films that have been coming out and have done such a good job.”

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Garcia furthers his assertion, referencing the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a source of tonal inspiration for the film.

“Marvel has, everyone knows, really locked into that place where they’re able to tell you really grounded, rooted stories that have real repercussions and there’s a real wake that’s left after what’s done but while through the whole process they still acknowledge that, you have a blast while you’re watching that. They find the moments where you’re constantly having fun and you’re able to go on the ride and that’s the place we’re gonna be playing in. I promise you dude, we’re not gonna f*** this up! My vision is so clear for this story and this movie. As story tellers, you sometimes get on projects but this has always been a priority. I’ve been carrying the Black Adam torch for so many years before we finally locked it in and I’m telling you we’re gonna knock this thing out of the park. It’s gonna be a blast and it’s gonna be a dope ride, so get ready!”

It’s hard not to be impressed with Garcia’s enthusiasm for the project, which from the sounds of things seems like it’s going to be getting back to the bread and butter of the DC universe. While it’s true the dark and gritty does have its place in telling comic book stories, there also needs to be a balance with the tonal aspects of the film.

There’s plenty of room for tonal differences across the DCEU, and hopefully the newly installed overseer Geoff Johns will help ensure that the universe stays on track, delivering movies that are undeniably DC and fun in spirit. Perhaps we’ll see this start to spread throughout the rest of the upcoming DCEU lineup, and maybe we’ll get our first glimpse of the altered tone when Suicide Squad comes out later this summer. If nothing else, there’s always Shazam! to look forward to.

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is now playing in U.S. theaters. Suicide Squad will arrive on August 5, 2016, followed by Wonder Woman on June 2, 2017Justice League Part One on November 17, 2017The Flash on March 16, 2018Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018Shazam on April 5, 2019Justice League Part Two on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020.

Source: Comic Book