For any fans who were worried Shazam! wouldn’t do the core idea of a child-turned-superhero justice, you can now breathe a sigh of relief: the character will be played by two actors. Set to arrive in theaters in less than two years, Shazam the movie and the DCEU character are both an unknown quantity at this point. While we’ve known for years that Dwayne Johnson will eventually play Black Adam, the actor won’t be appearing in Shazam! Instead, the film will focus on the story of young Billy Batson gaining the ability to turn into a fully-grown superhero.
Now that Shazam! finally has a helmer – with horror director David F. Sandberg (Annabelle: Creation) switching genres to tackle the movie – production should begin shortly. Of course, before it does, a lead actor will need to be cast. While many of the DCEU heroes will be getting their own movie have already been cast thanks to Justice League, Shazam! still lacks a star. And given the nature of the story, both an actor for Shazam and for Billy Batson will need to be cast. And while Warner Bros. and DC could choose to digitally de-age the adult actor into Batson, Sandberg says that won’t be the case.
During a lengthy chat with Collider, Sandberg was asked about working with a child actor or if he’d employ some sort of de-aging process for the adult lead instead.
“Yeah, I wouldn’t want to do that. That seems like way too much of a hassle. So I think it’s just kind of best to have a kid and an adult.”
While the choice seems like a no-brainer, de-aging actors has been growing in popularity for years. It was first used to make Professor X and Magneto younger in X-Men: The Last Stand, and has become increasingly common in genre franchises.
“Yeah and they’ve done quite well, I mean Kurt Russell was in the latest Guardians was really well made I thought, but I think there’s a limit to it as well. You probably can’t do someone to be a kid. Why create that hassle for yourself?”
As Sandberg states, it’s both a hassle and expensive to de-age an actor as is, but to make them look like a small child vastly increases the complexity. In reality, the technique would involve placing a de-aged face on a different body, something done for Tarkin and Leia in Rogue One. A better example, however, is the process used on Chris Evans for Captain America: The First Avenger to show how small Steve Rogers was before he was given the Super Soldier Serum.
Yet while it’s possible, the idea of making the core of the film be a child actor with a digitally added face could be both problematic and distracting. Given the transformation Batson makes when he becomes Shazam, the easiest solution is just cast someone young and explain the differences as part of the aging and magic process.
Sandberg has said that casting for Shazam! should be announced soon, so we won’t have to wait too much longer to learn who will star in the film and exactly what technique will be employed to show the two sides of the hero.
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