February 11, 2019
‘Shazam’ Filmmakers on How the Movie Connects to the DCEU, Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam, and More [Interview]
Last week, I joined a small group of journalists at a post production facility on the Warner Bros. studio lot to see a sneak peek of footage from the upcoming superhero film Shazam! After getting an early look at a few minutes of the movie, we spoke with director David F. Sandberg and producer Peter Safran about the film’s connections to the DCEU, how the project evolved from the days when Dwayne Johnson‘s Black Adam was said to be involved, the film’s post-credit sequence, and much more.
During our conversation, Sandberg and Safran touched on casting Zachary Levi as Shazam, the superhero alter ego of 14-year-old Billy Batson (Asher Angel), praising the actor’s enthusiastic approach to the role. You can see a bit of that easy-going, good-natured approach in this new featurette:
Shazam Footage Recap
Much of the footage we saw came from the first act of the film. Young Billy Batson is brought into a foster family, and while the trailer focused on Billy/Shazam’s fun relationship with his foster brother Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer), there’s an uneasy tension between them early in the story. Freddy is obsessed with superheroes and even keeps a bullet that bounced off of Superman in his drawer at home (complete with a certificate of authenticity), but Billy swipes it for himself. At school, Freddy and Billy talk about the differences between invisibility and flight, how flight is associated with being a superhero and being invisible is often associated with being a pervert. (Invisibility is a joke that returns later in the film when Shazam is trying to figure out his powers.) “Most people don’t feel like heroes on the inside, deep down,” Freddy says.
But it seems like the rocky relationship doesn’t last long, and the two quickly become friends. When Billy stands up for Freddy by fighting back against some local bullies, he escapes into a subway car – where the other passengers turn to dust, almost as if Thanos’s snap from the Marvel universe made its way over to DC. The subway doors open to reveal the Rock of Eternity, a magical cave featured heavily in the trailer, where the Wizard (Djimon Hounsou) sits on a throne. DC really loves these big cavernous throne rooms – we saw one in Aquaman recently – and they also seem to love dropping flashbacks into their movies: this one explains the history of Shazam by using magical glowing particles as Billy stands there flabbergasted.
After he’s endowed with superheroic powers, Shazam finds himself back on the subway, where a passenger praises his outfit: “My brother, I applaud your choices today. Gold shoes, gold belt, white cape: it shouldn’t work, but hot damn, it does!” (The general tone of this footage is almost the same as what’s in the first trailer: lots of goofy, lighthearted comedy.) When Shazam meets up with Freddy back home, we saw a different version of his “powers discovery” scene than the one that appears in the trailers – this one takes place at night when Shazam intervenes during a mugging (where it turns out his help may not have been needed after all). Freddy tries out several superhero nicknames for him (“Thundercrack!” “Mr. Philadelphia!” “Power Boy”), all of which fall flat.
After revealing the full version of the gas station robbery scene from the trailer, the footage transitioned into several action scenes, many of which are featured in this extended TV spot:
Read on for highlights from our interview with Shazam! director David F. Sandberg and producer Peter Safran.
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