The next DC film to enter production with be Shazam!, but will it be a part of the DCEU? Last week, the superhero news community was rocked by the announcement that Zachary Levi (Chuck, Thor: Ragnarok) will be playing the titular hero; while the rumored cast list was varied, few expected an outright comedic actor like Levi to wind up landing the hotly-contested part. The casting was just one of many idiosyncratic hires for the film, including horror director David F. Sandberg coming aboard to helm the project and bringing with him some previous horror collaborators.
With a number of genre creators crafting the look of the film and a comedic actor in the lead role, Shazam! certainly sounds like nothing the DC cinematic universe has put out so far. In fact, it's shaping up to be such a different prospect that it's not even clear if Shazam! is set in the DCEU at all. There are conflicting reports, so what's the truth?
Shazam! Is Shaping Up To Be Very Different To Other Films in the DCEU
It’s important to understand just why Shazam! - and as a result villain solo outing Black Adam - may not be part of the main DCEU. After all, when the film was first announced alongside the rest of Warner Bros proposed slate of DC films, no one felt any need to question the place of the Earth’s Mightiest Mortal in the continuity of Man of Steel and the future Justice League adjacent films. That quickly changed, however, with it rumored as early as 2014 that Shazam! would exist on its own, separate from the rest of the heroes and with a wildly different tone.
Biggest of all, it has its own studio: Shazam! will be released by WB imprint New Line. This isn't the only film to come from the House that Freddy Built, all of which are said to be separate to the DCEU; Sandman has long been confirmed to exist outside of the DCEU, with New Line at one point planning to craft a series of horror-inflected movies, and the same has been said to be true of Justice League Dark. The New Line connection for Shazam! and Black Adam has thus led many to draw the same conclusion about the films.
Moreso, Shazam! didn’t seem to fully fit with the other films thanks to its prevalence to magic, a world disconnect the hiring of Sandberg and his team adds further fuel to the fire of.
Though most of this evidence goes back a few years, the prospect of Shazam! being outside the DCEU has become real recently. Geoff Johns recently confirmed that the proposed Joker origin film will be set in a separate universe. No other information about the imprint is known (except that it will have its own name which will be revealed soon) but it's clear DC Films are open to having several non-DCEU films. It seems entirely possible that Shazam! and Black Adam will part of this Elseworlds-like banner.
There Is Still A Suggestion of A Justice League Connection
Right off the bat, the strongest indication that Shazam! will be part of the DCEU is a report from last year. In it, we were told that while the movie will have its own room to grow, Shazam! will be part of the Justice League universe. However, even though that seems to be solid confirmation, it’s worth considering a few things.
First of all, the speaker in question is Dwayne Johnson’s producing partner Dany Garcia, rather than anyone working at WB, New Line, or DC. As such, much of his statement could come down to semantics rather than any outright confirmation. The second thing to remember is that this news was from long before Black Adam was announced, which also brought word that Johnson will no longer appear in Shazam!
The last official word we heard was the director saying this was the plan, although it's worth noting this was before a period of shifts to the WB plan. The most recent evidence connecting Shazam and his film to the DCEU is a series of audition tapes for the film’s leads; specifically, last month we got potential confirmation that Superman and Batman exist in Shazam!’s world. The possible counter-argument here is that these references merely establish a larger DC universe in the film, without explicitly connecting to the current Justice League continuity. After all, the Joker origin film will feature all sorts of elements from the DC Comics universe without being tied to the likes of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
While mentions of the Dark Knight and Man of Steel in a side-universe Shazam! would be confusing, so too is the idea of another actor playing Joker while Jared Leto is still performing as the character. It’s hard to read exactly what the plan is with WB, New Line, and DC but, for now, don't get too excited about Levi and Cavill sharing the big screen.
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