If any moviegoer has been avoiding recent entries in Warner Brothers DC Extended Universe of superhero films because some of the initial offerings have been rather dark and dour, they may want to check out the upcoming Shazam! when it hits theaters next April. At least judging by the energy that star Zachary Levi brought to the stage at New York Comic Con earlier today.
“You can’t make a movie about a 14-year-old that has a magic power to turn into a superhero and make that too dour and glum,” explained Levi as to how his film would be different then Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice. “There’s going to be a lot of fun and levity built into it. We didn’t really have to try, it just naturally came across.”
For the few in the crowd who might have been unfamiliar with the titular DC Comics superhero, Levi gave a quick crash course.
“I’m playing myself,” he stated with a self-deprecating laugh. “Billy Batson is fourteen. He’s a foster kid, he’s trying to find his family. He’s got a heart of gold, and this wizard sees in him the potential to be a hero and so he gives him the magical power to say the word ‘Shazam’ and become… me, essentially. It’s like the movie Big meets the movie Superman and I get to play a fourteen-year-old which is very natural for me because I’m a manchild.”
Originally, Shazam was an acronym for the six mythological beings who gave the hero his combined power – Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury. These days, it is just the name of the wizard whom grants Billy his powers.
The 14-year-old version of Billy is being played by Asher Angel, and Levi states that he enjoyed the collaboration they had on creating two versions of the same character.
“Asher, honestly, he’s everything I wish I was when I was fourteen,” Levi said. “He’s a super handsome little pre-teen who’s also like basically the next Justine Timberlake. He’s a Disney star, he sings, he dances. Which actually, we had that in common. We both are musical people, so that was really lovely.
“You would hope you would have months and months to study each other’s varied gaits and how each other moves, but we had like, a day. But we had some really good meetings and rehearsals together with David Samberg our director, so that gave us a good bedrock to start working on. And then it was really just a matter of trusting David when he was like ‘I need you to do it a little more like this.’ The proof will be in the pudding when you see it.”
Shazam! opens in theaters on April 5, 2019.