Shazam! represents the next step in the evolution of the DCEU superhero movie franchise, according to producer Peter Safran. Directed by David F. Sandberg, the movie stars Asher Angel as young Billy Batson and Zachary Levi as the titular hero. It is due to hit theaters in April 2019 and will follow on the heels of James Wan and Jason Momoa's Aquaman movie (which is scheduled to hit theaters this December).
Not much is known about the film's plot just yet, other than Billy and his superhero alter-ego will battle the villainous Doctor Sivana (Mark Strong) along the way. Early on in pre-production, Dwayne Johnson's Black Adam was slated to appear in the movie, but things changed and the DC villain is now set to be introduced in his own solo film. Based on the marketing so far, it's clear Warner Bros. is taking a different approach with Shazam! and fashioning the film as a lighter, family-friendly adventure. Safran, for his part, thinks this is the perfect way to evolve the DCEU, as a whole.
Speaking with EW for the magazine's San Diego Comic-Con 2018 issue (which features Levi on the cover), Safran calls Shazam! "the next step in the evolution of the DC brand". He added "You had Wonder Woman, then Aquaman [coming Dec. 21] is another big step, then comes Shazam! - all different movies, but all have a unique tone that moves away from the darkness of the prior DC movies”.
Levi doubled down on this idea and pointed out that in the general sense, there are not many superheroes who are genuinely enthusiastic about their world-saving gig like Shazam! is. This is, however, especially important in the DCEU considering that most of their heroes (Superman, Batman, and even Wonder Woman and Aquaman) have all wanted to walk away from the responsibility of being a hero at one point in their respective stories:
“It’s complete wish-fulfillment — if you scour all of DC and Marvel there are very few characters that are actually stoked to be a superhero. They’re not brooding, they’re not put out, like ‘Oh dammit, I gotta save the world again!’ Billy Batson is like Peter Parker, they’re thrilled to have these powers and can’t wait to try them out.”
Starting with Aquaman, it seems the DCED superheroes may start being less broody (like Batman) and more fun-loving, like the vibe that Shazam! is going for. Indeed, if Arthur Curry's Justice League stint was any indication, fans can expect a laid-back feel from Momoa's solo DC movie, which would be a nice lead-in to a more light-hearted flick in Shazam!. Fans, however, shouldn't be worried that Warner Bros. and DC Films will totally shy away from tackling heavier narratives. For one, they can always change things up and throw a more serious film (perhaps Matt Reeves' The Batman) in their line-up and offer people some variety. Further, a separate brand dubbed DC Black or DC Dark - which will house the Joaquin Phoenix's Joker origin story movie - will seemingly cater to the grittier kind of storytelling that The Dark Knight Trilogy made DC famous for.
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020