Back in August we told you that writer/actor Bill Burch was teaming with red-hot comic book scribe Geoff Johns to work on a script for the long-delayed adaptation of DC Comics' Shazam! Well, MTV recently checked back in with Burch to see how the script was coming along and Burch was kind enough to drop some details about the direction he and Johns are going with Shazam and what fans should and SHOULD NOT expect from the movie.
Also in discussion: the likelihood that we'll see Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson actually donning the black and gold garb of Captain Marvel's arch nemesis, Black Adam.
A few things upfront: As of now it's looking like Get Smart director Peter Segal is still attached to direct Shazam - Segal was linked to the project when it reportedly stalled while in development early this year. However, that D.O.A. report came from a writer working on a previous draft of the script, and since that writer has been replaced and Segal is still apparently onboard, I think it's safe to extrapolate that DCE/WB had problems with Shazam on a script level, not a directorial one. Bringing on Geoff Johns, a proven master of the DC Universe, probably plugged that particular hole.
Next, here's what Burch had to say about the longtime rumor that Dwayne Johnson is up for the role of Black Adam:
"My rule of thumb is that no actor is committed to do a movie until the first day of shooting is over with,” Birch explained. “I know that ['Shazam' Director] Pete Segal and Dwayne have a relationship that was solidified when Pete directed 'Get Smart.' As far as him being committed? I'm sure it'll all depend on the script.”
Hmmmm, interesting... That's not a "yes" but it is FAR from a "no." Johnson and Segal DO have a working relationship and the actor has been pretty much praised by fans and the blogger elite (that'd be us) as a perfect fit for Black Adam, Captain Marvel - heck, maybe even both roles with a little makeup work! Ok, so that last claim is taking it a bit far, I'll admit, but you get the idea: a lot of us want The Rock in this flick. It was also very sly how Burch said that Johnson's involvement will depend on the script, considering Burch himself is currently the guy handling that particular prerequisite. Will The Rock smell what Burch and Johns are cooking? Time will tell...
Undoubtedly the biggest impediment to Shazam has been the question of script tone. Captain Marvel is, after all, a strange case in the super hero universe: geeky boy Billy Batson says a magic word ("Shazam!") and magically becomes a superman (he actually switches places with the mystically-bound Captain Marvel, but those are geek details).
As for turning that weird premise into a popular movie: non-geeks need a reason besides quasi-Superman to see it; fanboys need the Shazam universe (and all hallmarks) kept intact to love it; it's gotta be both a teen-themed flick and a super hero epic, and it will require some F/X wizardry and one spectacular young leading man to pull it all off. Not an easy order to fill.
So how are Burch and Johns handling the challenge? Said Burch:
“Geoff and I are in the thick of it, creating a kickass update that still honors the lore that's been created in over 50 years of Marvel storylines...“The way the story is shaking out...It'll probably end up with a PG-13 rating...Tonally I think it's important to successfully find the balance of comedy and danger in the story. That’s a major aspect I’m focusing on. Frankly hitting the right tone is what’s going to either get this made or keep it in development hell.”
Amen to that. Now we at Screen Rant have debated in the past whether a Shazam movie would benefit from being more "kid friendly" (i.e., a younger Billy Batson sparking profit potential with the young crowd), or perhaps a tongue-in-cheek teenage story with proper dashes of irony (i.e., teen angst explored through a shared-body super hero metaphor). At this point, after waiting so long for this film, I say throw Shia LaBeouf in there to help carry the film and let's get a crackin' already! (Ok so maybe another young actor (or not) but you get the idea...)
Read MTV's full interview with Bill Burch to learn who the writer wants (but can't get) to play Captain Marvel.
What do you think about Burch and Johns' vision for Shazam so far? Hitting the right notes or missing the mark?