New Line has found their World’s Mightiest Mortal! After years in development, the studio is finally ready to move forward into production on their adaption of the comic book hero Shazam, and have cast Zachary Levi in titular superhero role.
Shazam is actually pre-teen Billy Batson, who was granted the powers of seven figures of legend – Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury – by an ancient wizard. When Billy says the name of the wizard – “Shazam!” – he transforms into a super-powered adult. No word as to who will be playing young Billy Batson.
The Hollywood Reporter is stating that Levi beat out the likes of John Cena and a number of television actors including Derek Theler (ABC Family’s Baby Daddy), Zane Holtz (From Dusk Til Dawn: The Series), Billy Magnussen and Jake McDorman (Limitless) for the role.
Levi is perhaps best known for his tarring role in the comedic action series Chuck. But he is no stranger to superheroics. In addition to a recurring role on 2015’s Heroes Reborn, has has had a supporting role in 2013’s Thor: The Dark World and Thor: Ragnarok, opening next week. Given the lighthearted nature of the source material, Levi’s resume does seem to cover the prerequisite disciplines.
Lights Out director David F. Sandberg has been tapped to direct Shazam, after a number of writers and director Peter Segal failed to get the project to a point where it was camera ready. During the course of the film’s development, Dwayne Johnson was attached to play Shazam’s nemesis Black Adam. At one point in development, it was decided to split Black Adam off to his own film.
Currently, New Line is aiming to have the film in front of cameras this February, for a 2019 release. With Aquaman having just wrapped, Shazam will be the next film in the DC Extended Universe franchise coming to screens. In doing so, it has beaten a number of other high profile projects in development including Joss Whedon’s Batgirl, Suicide Squad 2, Gotham City Sirens, The Batman and Flashpoint.