Directed by David F. Sandberg, Shazam! will tell the story of Billy Batson (Angel), a down-on-his-luck foster kid who, following a chance encounter with The Wizard (Djimon Hounsou), is granted the ability to transform himself into a superhero. Beyond that, details remain scarce, except the fact that Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong) will serve as the main antagonist rather than Black Adam. And that the movie will have a lighter, more family-friendly tone, leaving many wondering how and where it will fit in alongside the franchise's previous installments.
Easter eggs for Man of Steel and other DC movies have already been spotted in some of the early official images. Thanks to Instagram user, TrulyDC, however, even more of the parallels between Shazam! and the rest of the DCEU have come to light. As seen in the first image, the hand of presumably Freddy Freeman, Billy Batson's friend and potential foster-brother, can be seen touching the symbol of Shazam's chest. It's much in the same way Amy Adam's Lois Lane did to Superman's in Man of Steel. Unlike Superman's, however, in what could be an even more sly send-up, Shazam's symbol lights up. In the second, Shazam can be seen blowing a bubble-gum bubble that can only be described as Harley Quinn-esque. Check them both out below:
DC films have received equal praise and derision over the years for embracing a darker, grittier tone than the films of their Marvel counterparts. While it afforded The Dark Knight both critical and commercial acclaim, maintaining a similar pattern for their more recent films hasn't proven as successful. A certain section of fans maintain vocal support of the darker world established by Zack Snyder - demanding, to this day, the release of his vision of Justice League. Others, meanwhile, will be happy to see DC venture in this direction, with a hero that embraces and enjoys their superhero identity rather than broods over it. Especially with Shazam!, which is very much wish-fulfillment material, requiring a tone more akin to Big than Batman V Superman or even Wonder Woman.
There is plenty of material from which drama and comedy can be mined, and without needing the overt quippiness many DC fans find frustrating about Marvel. It could essentially serve as the perfect middle-ground between Marvel and previous DC output, and be just what DC films need to turn things around commercially and subvert expectations critically. Whether or not it does reap box office and critical success remains to be seen, especially with the aforementioned Snyder fans. Either way, Warner Bros. and DC have taken a bold step. Not only are they switching up the tones of the films at long last but allowing themselves a little self-aware fun, seizing the opportunity to comically send up their own past films.
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- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020