Shazam! director David F. Sandberg has taken to Reddit to promise fans that, while his film will be funny, it won’t have too many quips or one-liners. Once again, the future of the DC Extended Universe appears to be in a state of flux. The DCEU was launched by controversial director Zack Snyder, who took a dark and brooding approach to the Superman mythos. He interpreted Superman as a reluctant hero, one weighed down by the burden of his powers. Critical response was mixed, but Warner Bros. continued with this approach – right up until the release of Batman V Superman.
That film forced a course correction, and the result was last year’s Justice League. Unfortunately, even Justice League hasn’t met with the popular and critical reaction the studio hoped for. DC Films is currently pivoting once again. Fans have long suspected David F. Sandberg’s Shazam! would be part of the course-correction. After all, it stars a teenager who transforms into a superhero when he utters a magic word.
It’s the perfect film to take a lighter approach, and one Redditor suggested it would be the DCEU’s “first comedic movie.” To the delight of fans, Sandberg himself chimed in on Reddit. Although Sandberg confirms that his film is “very funny,” he insists that the humor won’t come from one-liners. Not that he has anything against “quippy one-liners,” he stressed. Rather, it’s simply that he’s choosing to go for situational humor. No doubt a teenager’s mind in the body of an adult male superhero is perfect for that kind of comedy. “The important thing for me,” Sandberg added, “is to mix the funny with a threat that’s serious and to also have dramatic moments. All funny all the time takes the weight out of it.”
In short, Sandberg’s argument is that the best films have a balance of different elements. If a film is nothing but dramatic moments, it’s difficult to care for the characters. If it’s nothing but humor, the threats feel meaningless. The blend of disparate elements is what gives the film its character. Take, for example, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. James Gunn used the quips to hide the fact that, in thematic terms, this is Marvel’s darkest film to date. The villain is a father who has slaughtered his children. One of the most important scenes features two sisters, Gamora and Nebula, brutally attempting to kill one another. Gunn used the humor to create a style and tone for the film, but blended it with some tremendously dark concepts.
It looks as though Sandberg is taking a different approach with Shazam! He’s not interested in the quips and the one-liners. Instead, the film’s humor will come from specific situations. It’s a different approach to humor, one that’s subtly different to many Hollywood blockbusters, and Warner Bros. will hope it’s a hit.
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