The film about a young boy who turns into Captain Marvel. Not that Captain Marvel. This isn’t even a Marvel film. Confused? You will be!
DARK. BROODING. GRITTY. All words you’d normally associate with DC Extended Universe films (Man Of Steel, Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad), all set to bounce off Shazam! like bullets pinging off its hero. The first trailer for David F. Sandberg’s movie, unveiled at San Diego Comic-con in July, showed off a much breezier side to the superhero stable, with its magic-channelling hero charging people’s phones using his powers, striding out of a grocery shop with armfuls of snacks, and doing the floss dance. Try to picture Batfleck doing any of that.
While he exists in the same world as Batman, Wonder Woman and co, Shazam is unlike any other DC character. Behind the hero moniker he’s really Philadelphiabased foster kid Billy Batson (Asher Angel), who by uttering that magic word, “Shazam!”, transforms into the body of an adult superhero — in this case, Zachary Levi. “It’s wish fulfilment on the highest level,” Levi tells Empire, sounding not unlike an overexcited teen himself. “It’s pretty friggin’ awesome, man.”
Where Superman and Wonder Woman have had years to hone their skills, Billy must experiment to discover his six abilities (the name is an acronym for the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles and the speed of Mercury). “He doesn’t get a manual, so he has to find out how powerful he is,” director Sandberg says — and then he drops the F-bomb, the word you’d struggle to apply to most DCEU movies so far. “There’s a lot of fun to be had with that.” Fun — it’s the superpower that could prove more valuable than the rest of Shazam’s abilities combined. SHAZAM! IS IN CINEMAS FROM 5 APRIL 2019
Above: Zachary Levi’s Shazam with Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddie. Here: The villainous Dr Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong). Empire spoke to Zachary Levi and director David F. Sandberg on 3 April.