Being a superhero is child’s play in the riotous Shazam! Words Jamie Graham
Kid and super team-up…
Big-meets-Superman is the sell for what will emerge as the seventh movie in the DCEU, as foster kid Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is granted the powers to morph into a fully grown superhero whenever he mutters the magic word “Shazam” (the acronym of six ‘immortal elders’: Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury). He will, in time, have some worldsaving to do, battling a mysterious arch nemesis, Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong), whose motives and backstory are for now being kept under wraps. But first Billy and his BFF Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer) must find out just what powers come with the flashy (literally, it lights up) suit. And before even that, there’s a little something that needs sorting out…
“I don’t even know how to pee in this thing!” screeches Billy to Freddy in the trailer, and it was a very real problem that plagued Zachary Levi, playing Shazam, on set…
“Having a supersuit was beyond dope,” enthuses the 37-year-old actor, who is essentially an overgrown kid himself, while at Comic-Con. “But I needed an assistant to unzip my crotch area to go number one. And if I needed number two, I had to take the whole damn thing off!”
There have, of course, been glimmers of humour and heart in the DCEU movies thus far – for all of Batman and Superman’s glowering from frames painted in cloudy greys and stormy blues, we’ve had rays of sunshine courtesy of Wonder Woman, The Flash and Aquaman
– but Shazam! bursts with brio.
“It takes place in the DCEU, so Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, they’re all real,” says director David F. Sandberg, who’s here upsizing after establishing his credentials with low-budget horrors Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation. “And then you get characters like Freddy, who’s a big fan of those real characters, and an expert on them. That’s fun to see.”
“It’s light-hearted and not as dark as a normal superhero movie would be,” grins Angel, while Grazer cuts in to state, “A lot of people are going to enjoy it.” Levi has rather more to say: his energy level, 24/7, is like a kid who’s scoffed down a sweet shop. “The movie is about optimism and levity and wish-fulfilment, and it’s personal wish-fulfilment, too, as I, like all children, grew up wishing I could be a superhero of some kind,” he starts.
“I still, to this day, dream that I might wake up and my genes have mutated and I can teleport – I’m not kidding. Wouldn’t it be fucking cool to walk through a wall? Well, if there was something good on the other side. There are very few characters in all of comic-dom who are super-stoked to be super-powered; who aren’t sitting around, going [low, depressed voice], ‘Oh man, I gotta save the world again.’ I’m like [high-pitched, excited voice], ‘Oh my gosh, I get to save the world!’ And Billy learning his powers is hysterical.”
His eyes grow wide, his smile wider. “I get to fucking fly! I mean, c’mon!”
director: DaviD F. SanDBerG starring: Zachary Levi, aSher anGeL, mark StronG, Jack DyLan GraZer, aDam BroDy, DJimon hounSou
eta 5 apriL 2019