Shazam! is set to be a bright and fun superhero pastiche, but there's something rather unnerving about the Wizard. The trailer for David F. Sandberg's take on the teenager-turned-super dropped somewhat unexpectedly at San Diego Comic-Con 2018, showcasing a comedic twist on the DCEU that adapts the character's New 52 origin story to a tee.
Essential to this is the Wizard Shazam. An old, magical being, he's been searching for a person pure enough to pass his power along to and oddly finds just that in 14-year-old Billy Batson. In the movie, he approaches Billy after he saves fellow foster child Freddie Freeman from high school bullies, recognizing a good in his heart that apparently warrants giving him Superman-style powers. Cue hilarious training montage and more somber coming-of-age tale against villain Doctor Sivana.
It's a simple role that the Shazam! trailer gives little more than the requisite time to. However, once you start digging deeper into the Wizard, things quickly stop adding up. There are too many questions about the character and too many actors attached to the role. Today, we're going to delve into that mystery.
- This Page: All The Weirdness Surrounding Shazam's Wizard
- Page 2: Possible Explanations for Shazam's Wizard
The Casting Of Shazam's Wizard Is Confusing
The Wizard would be a key role to cast in any Shazam! film, and word of the hunt for the 2019 project first broke in January 2018; reported to be in talks was Ron Cephas Jones, best known for This Is Us, who was seemingly locked in just before shooting began. However, little was said of his role or the character after. Jump forward to earlier this month and everything changed. On July 10 it was reported that Djimon Hounsou was now playing the Wizard, with it further stated that Jones' schedule caused the original talks to fall through.
While that wouldn't be the first recast of its kind, the news immediately raised eyebrows. Hounsou was also recently announced as playing the Fisherman King in December's Aquaman, which is part of the same DC shared universe as Shazam! (he's also reprising his Guardians of the Galaxy character Korath for Captain Marvel in February 2018). It's not impossible for Hounsou to play both roles given the transformative effect of his Aquaman part, but it's certainly an interesting move.
Things get weirder, though. In a synopsis for Shazam! sent out with the teaser by UK PR for the film, the Wizard is still credited as being played by Ron Cephas Jones. Two actors, one role - and the trailer did nothing to resolve the mystery.
The Shazam! Trailer Hides The Wizard
The Wizard may be an expectedly focal point in the Shazam! trailer, but that doesn't mean much is revealed about him. There's a wide shot of him sat at the center of the Council of Eternity chairs, then four quick medium shots of the figure hunched over and with hair obscuring his face. Aside from learning his name - something which, as we'll get to, is curious in its own right - we don't get much on the character at all, with nary a hint as to who is under that hood.
That's right - the actor can't be identified. In the straight-on shot of the Wizard, his face is blacked out by shadow to the point that even when brightened using photo editing tools no details can be found. For clarification, while trailers may have dark images, there is still normally sharp detail hidden in there to be found (indeed, in Shazam's trailer brightening the shot of Freddy's Batarang reveals DCEU Batman's trademark lines). For there to be an absence of any part of the Wizard's face is an indication of image manipulation with the intention to obfuscate.
The Wizard Is One Of The Few Things That Deviates From New 52
Without any concrete information on casting or from the trailer, what we have to turn to then is the comics. And here's where it gets very strange. While Shazam! is following the New 52 origin at points shot-for-shot, the Wizard may mark another departure. Throughout Shazam's 79-year history, the Wizard has been typically named Shazam, with the hero being Captain Marvel. The first iteration where this wasn't the case is in the New 52; in part because DC dropped "Captain Marvel" (all part of a long legal conflict with Marvel Comics) and named the hero Shazam, the Wizard was known as just that - Wizard - with his real name eventually revealed as "Mamaragan".
The implication from the Shazam! trailer is that the Wizard is called Shazam as well as the hero, and while it could be clever trailer editing hiding the much less catchy New 52 moniker, it potentially presents a key comic divergence; the only other example of which at this point is the absence of Black Adam, with Mark Strong's Doctor Sivana taking on full villain duties.
On its own, it's not much, but with all three points considered, it's begining to feel like something is going on with Shazam's Wizard... but what?
Page 2 of 2: Possible Explanations for Shazam's Wizard
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020