The first look of Asher Angel as Billy Batson in Shazam! has finally been revealed. Zachary Levi as the titular hero might be the star of the 2019 DC movie, but he's only one half of the lead role. Shazam is the name of the superhero but the civilian identity behind him is teenager Billy Batson.
For those who don't know, Shazam is one of the more unusual characters in DC's line-up. For the most part, Billy Batson is a normal kid. However, when he says the magic word, "Shazam!" he turns into a grown adult superhero with the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, courage of Achilles and much, much more. Shazam might look like a grown man but he's really just Billy Batson magically transformed. The first look at Billy not only illuminates how Asher Angel will appear in the movie, but it also suggests a lot about the movie's tone and plot.
As a part of their Shazam! cover story, EW has released the first look at former Disney Channel star Asher Angel as Billy Batson. In the sneak preview that can be seen below, Angel (on the left) is standing with his co-star Jack Dylan Grazer who plays Billy's friend, Freddy Freeman. The preview isn't a great look at Billy, as only half his face is shown, but it's still quite important for Shazam! overall.
As was previously reported, Shazam! will be taking some inspiration from the New 52 origins of Billy Batson. In that story, Billy was a down on his luck foster kid who met his friends, like Freddy, as foster-siblings. The new preview reinforces that concept with Angel's Billy looking like he was plucked directly from the streets to whatever home he is sharing with Freddy.
Yet that's not the only plot details that can be gleamed from the photograph. The dresser behind Billy and Freddy is full of Batman and Superman memorabilia. There's the usual keepsakes that would be found in any superhero fan's bedroom but there's also items that prove Shazam! is firmly apart of the unofficially titled DCEU. A Time magazine detailing Zod's invasion is clearly visible, so is a Daily Planet article with a headline toting Superman's resurrection during Justice League. A batarang can also be seen, which could be replica or could be the genuine article that Freddy somehow snagged. After all, Freddy is holding up a "Certificate of Authenticity" to Billy in the image.
Freddy Freeman being a Superman and Batman fanboy might sound a little hokey. However, it could be the direction the DCEU and Shazam! needs. Outside of Wonder Woman, the DCEU has been criticized for being too dark and not having enough fun with its larger than life characters. Viewing the previous movies through the eyes of a child like Freddy could be a way to retroactively make previous outings seem more exciting, or at least fun.
Shazam! is choosing one of the darkest origins ever for Billy Batson and the first look at Billy does seem to double down on that tragic beginning. Hopefully, though, Billy's sad start is only laying the groundwork for a much more hopeful and cheerful movie.
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019