“Every kid dreams about being a superhero,” says “SHAZAM!” director David F. Sandberg. “In the world of our story, where Superman and Batman exist, Billy Batson is a kid who basically gets that wish.” But for Billy, there’s a twist—he doesn’t just get the superpowers, he becomes an adult—on the outside, at least—with a power-laden name: SHAZAM stands for Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury.
Inside, the Super Hero Shazam starts out as a cynical foster kid struggling to find his place in the world, who knows nothing about such heroes, let alone how to be one. It’s a unique aspect of the character, Sandberg allows, adding another: “His power comes from magic. He’s just a kid, but because he’s pure of heart and strong in spirit, he’s the chosen one. He’s the champion. That was really interesting to me.”
Star Zachary Levi says it’s the combination of all aspects of the story that he found so compelling. “Yes, it’s about Billy Batson becoming Earth’s mightiest mortal and defender just in time to meet some serious supernatural evil that he needs to learn how to defend against, but really it’s a great coming of age story within a family story within an action story.”
For Levi, starring in “SHAZAM!”—a movie about wish fulfillment—is truly life imitating art…or possibly the other way around. It’s hard to say whose dreams are really coming true, Shazam’s or his own. “More often than not, you’ve got a character who is begrudgingly pulled into the superhero thing, and they have these powers and everybody needs them and they’re thinking, ‘Oh great, I have to save the world again?’” Levi explains. “But Billy Batson is stoked, making Shazam one of the few superhero characters in all the comic universes that’s genuinely thrilled to be a superhero. I knew that would make my job as an actor infinitely easier, because I wouldn’t have to hide any of my excitement to be bringing Shazam to life.”
“SHAZAM!” marks producer Peter Safran’s second foray into the superhero genre, after last year’s enormously successful “Aquaman.” While he acknowledges there are similarities in that both characters struggle to find their place in their respective worlds, Safran says, “Each of the DC properties can—and should—have a different tone. They all live in different worlds, and for Shazam we loved the idea of combining the big action movie with all the wonderful comedic character elements. What I’ve personally always loved about ‘SHAZAM!’ is the wish fulfillment element, the idea that anybody can become a superhero. Your dad doesn’t have to be a billionaire, you don’t have to come from the planet Krypton. So that, combined with the family story that was always intrinsic to the Billy Batson/Shazam storyline, were the things that really drew me to this project.”
In addition to Levi, the filmmakers cast an engaging group of actors—adults and kids—to fill the major roles, from esteemed veterans like Mark Strong as Super-Villain Dr. Thaddeus and Djimon Hounsou as the magic-gifting Wizard, to familiar faces Asher Angel as Billy Batson and Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddy Freeman, along with Faithe Herman, Grace Fulton, Ian Chen and Jovan Armand filling out the roster of fosters.
In Philippine cinemas April 3, “Shazam!” is a New Line Cinema production, and distributed by Warner Bros., a WarnerMedia Company. Use the hashtag #SHAZAM
David F. Sandberg (“Annabelle: Creation”) directs New Line Cinema’s “Shazam!,” the origin story that stars Zachary Levi (TV’s “Chuck”) as the titular DC Super Hero, along with Asher Angel (TV’s “Andi Mack”) as Billy Batson, and Mark Strong (the “Kingsman” movies) in the role of Super-Villain Dr. Thaddeus Sivana. Peter Safran (upcoming “Aquaman,” “The Conjuring” and “Annabelle” films) serves as the film’s producer.
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).
“Shazam!” also stars Jack Dylan Grazer (“IT”) as Billy’s best friend and ultimate superhero enthusiast, Freddy, part of the foster family that includes Mary, played by Grace Fulton (“Annabelle: Creation”); Darla, played by Faithe Herman (TV’s “This is Us”); Eugene, played by Ian Chen (TV’s “Fresh Off the Boat”); and Pedro, played by Jovan Armand (TV’s “Hawaii Five-O”). Cooper Andrews (TV’s “The Walking Dead”) and Marta Milans (TV’s “Killer Women”) play foster parents Victor and Rosa Vasquez, with Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou (“Blood Diamond”) as the Wizard.
Firmly set in the DC universe but with his own distinctly fun, family-centric tone, the screenplay is by Henry Gayden, story by Gayden and Darren Lemke. Shazam was created by Bill Parker and C.C. Beck. Christopher Godsick, Jeffrey Chernov, Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia and Hiram Garcia serve as executive producers.