In an effort to outdo Josh Brolin's banner year as a main cast-member of two major comic book blockbusters released within two months of each other, Djimon Hounsou is set to be in three within five. Hounsou has roles in the next two DCEU instalments, Aquaman and Shazam, as well as returning to his role as Korath the Pursuer from Guardians of the Galaxy for the MCU's Captain Marvel, coming in February.
Sure, it's unlikely any of these will be as momentous as what Brolin got up to this summer. But it would be hard for anyone to outdo Thanos, the villain in Avengers: Infinity War and Cable, the anti-hero cam-padre to Deadpool, one of Marvel's most popular characters full-stop. Brolin very much hit the jackpot in terms of major roles for these franchises and, to be fair to him, he put in the work and delivered two great performances befitting the prominence of the material.
In saying that, Hounsou's work is still impressive. Doing three of these movies on-the-trot in quick succession is a lot of character work to juggle, not to mention he's going to have a lot of press to do over the course of those five months. What's more, all three of the characters he's playing require a lot of time in the make-up chair.
Aquaman and Shazam
Hounsou will be first seen in the James Wan-directed Aquaman this December. Well, “seen” might be an overstatement; Djimon will be under a lot of prosthetics and special effects as the Fisherman King. A ruler of one of the seven kingdoms of Atlantis, the Fisherman King is a bona-fide, fish-tail-in-place-of-legs, trident-holding member of royalty . From what little details we know so far, the King will be propositioned by Patrick Wilson's King Orm to help wage war on our pollution-heavy surface world. The realm the Fisherman oversees is also seen as one that has evolved, valuing artistry and philosophy, putting Orm's offer in doubt, but that's all speculation.
In Shazam!, Hounsou will stay in the realm of fantasy for an all-important title role... well, almost. The actor will be playing Shazam – not the titular 'Shazam' that Billy Batson transforms into to fight crime, but the ancient wizard Shazam, who gives Batson those powers. It might sound confusing, but the key to remembering who's who is that Hounsou is the one that isn't played by Zachary Levi. Expect Hounsou to be recurring in the role, as in the comics the ghost of the wizard can be summoned for guidance.
Being the first female-led chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and direct prequel to Avengers 4 makes Captain Marvel one of the most interesting blockbusters on the calendar - and that's before considering the added twists that the film is set in the '90s and deals with a Skrull invasion. There's a lot riding on this movie and how it ties into and expands the universe, and Hounsou's reprisal of Korath could be very much tied to that. In Guardians of the Galaxy, Korath was killed by Drax during the final act, and his characterization was mostly that of simple hired gun. Captain Marvel being set two decades prior allows for expansion on that. There can be a little more context as to who Korath is, how things were before Thanos became as powerful as he does and the overall lay of the land of cosmic Marvel beyond what we see in the Guardians franchise.
Whatever happens, let it not be said Djimon Hounsou isn't putting in the work. Three named roles in tentpole big-budget films in five months is definitely going to be a tough record to beat – any more and you might need an Infinity Gauntlet to find the time.
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019