A rule of thumb when translating comic book superheroes to the big screen is that there will always be fans in outrage at what they deem a poor imagining. David F. Sandberg, charged by Warner Bros. with the task of bringing Shazam! to the DC Cinematic Universe, understands and anticipates that rule to be enacted. The time for clowning online is soon over for David, and hard answers and decisions will have to be made.
Sandberg took to Twitter and declared, “It will be an interesting experience making a movie were no matter what choices are made there will be some who passionately hate you.”
Shazam! will be the cinematic reimagining of the 1940s character first published by Fawcett Comics before the property was bought by DC Comics. Orphaned Billy Batson is brought to The Rock of Eternity before the Ancient Wizard known only as Shazam. Chosen for his pure heart, The Wizard imbues young Billy with the ability to become a red-clad superpowered adult originally named Captain Marvel simply by speaking the Wizard’s name. The name is an acronym representing Greek figures and their gifts Billy is granted: Solomon (wisdom), Hercules (strength), Atlas (Stamina), Zeus (power), Achilles (courage), and Mercury (speed). Captain Marvel has been previously adapted for both animation and movie serials, as well as the short-lived live action television series in the 1970s initially starring Jackson Bostwick as Captain Marvel.
David elaborates by bringing in the example of whether the design of Shazam’s cape should be the traditional Fawcett Comics design – a half-length draped over one shoulder with the collar turned down – or the more modern wizard-like, full-length with a hood crafted by Gary Frank for The New 52. In his defense, fans over the years have been up in arms about such decisions like the look of Christian Bale’s second bat suit for The Dark Knight, Harley Quinn’s booty shorts in Suicide Squad, or infamously axing Superman’s red trunks and “S” redesign in Man of Steel. Given fans have been awaiting The World’s Mightiest Mortal to make his debut for years, Sandberg will be under tight scrutiny for the hero’s look as much as who will portray both Shazam – or will he be named Captain Marvel? – and his true self, 9-year-old – or will it be 12? – Billy Batson. Further, will any members of the Marvel family make cameo appearances?
Case in point, audition tapes for both key roles have been circulating on the web as of late, so the search is underway and viewers are choosing their favorites. Ultimately, though, those choices and others will fall on David. With filming scheduled to commence in Ontario within a few months, fans can look forward to more details and defunct rumors on Shazam!, which is set to premiere on April 5, 2019.