A quick perusal of the films from Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Entertainment that comprise the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) can lead to a quick one-word descriptor: they’re “dark”. This darkness is not just in the prevalent color palette of the movies, but also the general atmosphere of grim bleakness, like in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”. This was borne out of the mainstream success of Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight Trilogy” about Batman that was briefly applied to all DC heroes in comics. That trend is receding now, and this new DCEU installment proves DC can be really light.
Entertainment Weekly tells us that the first trailer for “Shazam!” the latest movie in the DCEU was revealed along with many others during the frenzied weekend of the San Diego Comic Con from July 19 to 22. The film is based on a superhero character DC acquired from Fawcett Comics, where he was originally known as Captain Marvel (no relation to the same-named heroes from Marvel Comics). It stars Zachary Levi as the super-powered form of foster kid Billy Batson (Asher Angel), who gains that ability to transform as such by shouting the name “Shazam”, gifted by an ancient wizard.
Levi had described “Shazam!” as the 1988 Tom Hanks blockbuster “Big” but with superheroes; and he might have a point judging from the visuals. Troublemaker runaway Billy is placed in a new foster home; when he rescues his crippled fellow foster kid Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer) from bullies, his escape attempt sends him into the sanctuary of the wizard Shazam, who gives him the power to transform into a superhuman by saying his name. Much of the humor in the trailer lies from Billy’s attempts to understand his alternate form’s various powers with the help of Freddy, a superhero fan-boy.
The actor had earlier shared on social media an image of him in the Shazam costume sipping from a large drink tumbler with a straw. Before Levi took it down under orders from WB, said photo already became a meme, with fans inserting the nonchalant image into scenes from “darker” DCEU films like again, “Dawn of Justice”. This is the first big-screen adaptation of the particular character outside of TV animation; his original moniker of Captain Marvel made for a sticky point with Marvel Comics and their own hero until Shazam’s magic phrase became his actual superhero identity since 2011.
“Shazam!” also stars Mark Strong, Djimon Hounsou and Grace Fulton among others, in a story written by Henry Gayden and Darren Lemke, and directed by David F. Sandberg. The film premieres on April 5 of 2019, a month after that of Marvel Studio’s MCU film “Captain Marvel” starring Brie Larson.
Image courtesy of YouTube (Warner Bros. Pictures)