Like many comic book adaptations, Shazam! has traveled a long road to the big screen. Created in 1939, the character is the alter ego of an ordinary boy named Billy Batson. By uttering a single magical word, the boy can transform into a costumed, superpowered adult.
What boy has never dreamed of instantly leaping into adulthood with special powers? No wonder the comic book series was incredibly popular in the 1940s, especially in view of those tumultuous times. DC Comics began publishing the title in the 1970s. Two television adaptations eventually followed.
A film version has been in various stages of development for more than 15 years. Here’s where things stand now.
Zachary Levi, best known for TV’s Chuck, will star as the superhero. He recently shared a photo of himself in costume.
The costume has raised questions in the minds of devoted fans. Director David F. Sandberg commented: “I wanted him to feel a bit like an old fashioned superhero from the golden age of comics. Figured it would also make him stand out from the rest.”
The cast also features Asher Angel (as young Billy Batson), Jack Dylan Grazer (as a friend of young Billy), Grace Fulton (as another friend), Ron Cephas Jones (as the Wizard, who bestows powers on Billy) and Mark Strong (as the villainous Dr. Thaddeus Sivana).
What’s it about?
Here’s the official synopsis, per Collider: “We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s (Angel) case, by shouting out one word — SHAZAM! — this streetwise 14-year-old foster kid can turn into the adult Super Hero Shazam (Levi), courtesy of an ancient wizard.”
“Still a kid at heart — inside a ripped, godlike body — Shazam revels in this adult version of himself by doing what any teen would do with superpowers: have fun with them! Can he fly? Does he have X-ray vision? Can he shoot lightning out of his hands? Can he skip his social studies test? Shazam sets out to test the limits of his abilities with the joyful recklessness of a child. But he’ll need to master these powers quickly in order to fight the deadly forces of evil controlled by Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Strong).”
Who is directing?
As noted, David F. Sandberg (Lights Out, above with producer James Wan; Annabelle Creation). He was announced as the director last summer. Like Wan, who is currently finishing Aquaman for release in December 2018, Sandberg is known for his horror movies. He’s a very talented director and it should be interesting to see what he brings to the table with a bigger budget and a lighter tone.
When can we see it?
Production in Toronto, Canada, began in late January and concluded earlier this month. Director Sandberg is busy at work in post-production. Shazam! will open in theaters on April 5, 2019.