After months of set photos, we now have our first official photo of Zachary Levi Billy Batson's superhero alter ego, Shazam, alongside his friend Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer). But beyond giving us a good look at Shazam's full costume, the photo also confirms something else that we've gleaned from the set photos: David F. Sandberg's Shazam! movie will closely adapt the character's New 52 origin story.
Though he's one of DC Comics' better-known superheroes, Shazam wasn't originally a DC character. He started his life as Captain Marvel, a superhero featured in the pages of Whiz Comics in the 1940s and 50s, and spent a couple of decades on hiatus after DC sued Whiz Comics publisher Fawcett Comics, claiming Captain Marvel was a rip-off of Superman. Eventually DC licensed the character and, due to a clash with Marvel Comics, rebranded Captain Marvel as Shazam. DC's Shazam! #1 recreated Billy Batson's superhero origins nearly panel-for-panel from Whiz Comics #2, and this origin was retold again during DC 2011 New 52 relaunch. As both the set photos and this official photo show, the version of Shazam we'll see in the movie is the New 52 version.
The photo shows Shazam and Freddy in front of a convenience store with a smashed window, both of them cheerfully gulping down cans of soda. The scene is plucked straight from the pages of a Shazam backup story featured in the New 52 Justice League relaunch, beginning in Justice League #7 and concluding in Justice League #21. In this retelling, Billy is a troublemaker who initially pushes away his foster siblings' attempts to befriend him, and rather than praising him for being "pure of heart," the wizard who gives him his powers laments that his seeking spell brought him "a child, and a rotten one at that." However, running out of time after the release of Black Adam, and seeing that Billy has the potential to be a good person, the wizard grants him the ability to transform into an adult superhero when he says the magic word: "Shazam!"
It's during Billy's first eventful outing as Shazam that the scene in the movie's first look photo takes place. After meeting up with Freddy and explaining his new powers, the two kids decide to try them out by... vandalizing a car, charging a woman a fee for saving her from a mugger, and then stealing money from an ATM. Yes, Billy's superheroics don't exactly get off to a heroic start. Billy and Freddy go to a convenience store to buy some beer with the stolen cash, only to find that the convenience store is being robbed. They stop the robber, and out of gratitude (and at Billy's request) the store owner gives them all the junk food they can carry. The first look photo clearly shows the aftermath of this scene. According to the plot synopsis, the rest of the movie will also closely follow Shazam's New 52 origins:
In the film, Billy is assigned to a new foster home where he befriends comic book superfan Freddy. One day, Billy’s subway ride is interrupted by a mysterious Wizard whose been searching for ages to find the right successor to inherit his powers. He reveals the teen’s been selected to gain an assortment of abilities, and all it takes is for Billy to say “SHAZAM!”
That's not the only scene from the New 52 origin story that we've caught a glimpse of. Other set photos have shown a scene with Shazam in a mall filled with Christmas decorations, which is the stage for his first fight with Black Adam. Of course, Black Adam won't appear in the movie (since Warner Bros. is saving him for a solo Black Adam movie, starring Dwayne Johnson), so in this scene Shazam will instead fight Mark Strong's Sivana.
The fact that the movie is closely adapting this updated take on Shazam's origins bodes well. Having Billy be a troubled kid who initially abuses his powers sets up a strong arc for the character, and Grazer (who won a lot of fans for his role as anxious hypochondriac Eddie in last year's IT remake) is perfect casting for Freddy Freeman, given his strong comedy chops and talent for wide-eyed reactions to ridiculous situations. Though some fans have been skeptical about this particular project, Shazam! has the potential to be one of the strongest DC Extended Universe entries yet.
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020