Shazam! – due out in April 2019 – will be the followup to the next DC film, Aquaman, which debuts in December 2018. Shazam! is the story of Billy Batson, a young boy who can transform into an adult superhero when he utters his magic word, “Shazam,” which is an acronym for Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury, the gods from which he draws his abilities. Chuck and Thor star Zachary Levi will portray the adult version of the character, while Asher Angel will play Billy Batson. Several more child actors have recently been announced, and Dwayne Johnson long ago signed up to play Shazam! villain Black Adam, though he will not actually appear in the initial Shazam! film.
The cast is getting a little bit bigger. Per Deadline, Cooper Andrews joins the film’s cast in an unspecified role. Andrews is a familiar face to TV audiences. Apart from his role as Jerry on The Walking Dead, he had a recurring role on the dearly departed AMC computer industry drama Halt and Catch Fire, and recently starred in Sundance TV’s Red Road, opposite current big screen Aquaman Jason Momoa. His film credits are a bit more limited, and Shazam! could prove a pivotal role for a talented young actor.
There’s significantly more pressure on Shazam! than Warner Bros. likely predicted. In the wake of Justice League’s relative box office failure, there’s significant question as to what direction the DCEU will take, if it survives at all. Wonder Woman may have been an unqualified success, but it felt like something of an anomaly for DC’s film slate, as movies like Man of Steel, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad ended up far more polarizing than Warner Bros. was hoping.
Only Shazam!, Aquaman, and a Wonder Woman sequel seem like sure things to get made at this point, and the future of the DCEU will likely hinge on how solo films for less high profile heroes such as Billy Batson and Arthur Curry fare. For his part, Sandberg seems to have a strong handle on the character, and despite his background in horror films, he seems dedicated to maintaining the character’s family friendly appeal. Levi is a tremendous choice to play the title role, and the supporting cast is filling out nicely. If DC can’t get this one right, they may have bigger problems than we realize.
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