The next DC Comics movie to go in front of cameras will be Shazam!, a film bringing Captain Marvel to the big screen. The always-smiling hero could be in theaters as soon as 2019, but there’s still a mystery about who will play the title character.
Shazam! has had a unique history in comic books, and is notably not starring in his own book. It will be difficult for Warner Bros. to get the general public interested in the character, even though he once outsold Superman during World War II. He was even the first ever comic book superhero to reach the big screen in his Adventures of Captain Marvel serial in 1941.
It’s worth noting that DC Comics more often refers to Captain Marvel as just “Shazam” to avoid confusion with the Marvel Comics character. For decades, Marvel was the star of a book that couldn’t carry his own name, but in recent years DC decided it was easier to call him Shazam.
During Warner Bros.’ San Diego Comic Con panel, the studio confirmed that there will be a Shazam! movie, but didn’t say who will play Captain Marvel.
Here’s what you need to know about the movie and the character.
1. ‘Annabelle: Creation’ Director David F. Sandberg is Making ‘Shazam!’
David F. Sandberg, who directed Annabelle: Creation for Warner Bros.’ division New Line, will direct Shazam!. The Hollywood Reporter notes that New Line thinks of Sandberg as a “homegrown talent” since he directed 2016’s hit Lights Out. In less than four years, he’s gone from making iPhone movies to directing a DC Comics movie.
THR reports that Shazam! will be the next DC Comics movie to start production, with Warner Bros. hoping to get it in theaters in 2019. Filming will start in January 2018, according to the site.
“To keep it general and not go into script details I’d say the core thing that’s appealing to me is the wish fulfillment,” Sandberg told a fan on Reddit. “What kid doesn’t want to be Superman? This is a kid that basically gets to become Superman.”
2. ‘Shazam!’ Won’t Include Marvel’s Main Villain, Black Adam, so Dwayne Johnson Won’t Be in It
Surprisingly, the obvious villain for Captain Marvel’s first movie won’t be involved in Shazam!. DC Comics Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns, who has been heavily involved in the DC Extended Universe movies, told Yahoo News that Black Adam won’t be in the film. What makes this news even more surprising is that Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has been attached to play the character since 2008, long before a DCEU existed!
“We haven’t announced any casting yet,” Johns told Yahoo Movies. “But Dwayne isn’t going to be in this movie. He’s still doing Black Adam, but he won’t be in Shazam!.”
So Johns and DC are still working on a Black Adam solo movie for Johnson that will not include Captain Marvel/Shazam. Of course, when you have the highest-paid actor in the world attached to the project, you can afford to make a solo movie about a character members of the general public haven’t heard of.
3. DC Comics Didn’t Originally Publish Captain Marvel
Captain Marvel wasn’t originally a DC Comics character. He was first published by Fawcett Comics, debuting in Whiz Comics in 1940. He was supposed to be the publisher’s own version of Superman. They gave him all the powers of Superman, but at least he had a vastly different origin and his own rogues gallery. He was created by Bill Parker and C.C. Beck.
At one point, Captain Marvel was so popular that he became the first comic book superhero to appear on the big screen. Tom Tyler starred in Adventures of Captain Marvel, a 1941 serial produced by Republic Pictures. The serial ran 12 chapters and includes the villain Scorpion. (No, not that Scorpion.)
In 1953, Fawcett stopped publishing Captain Marvel because National Comics (the publisher of DC Comics) sued Fawcett for copyright infringement because the character was similar to Superman. Ironically, DC Comics brought Captain Marvel back to “life” in 1972 when it licensed Marvel and his family. By 1980, DC wholly owned the character.
4. Shazam Is Really a Young Boy Named Billy Batson
Captain Marvel/Shazam might have powers similar to Supermna’s, but origin couldn’t be more different. Unlike Superman, Captain Marvel is just a boy named Billy Batson. That’s right, the World’s Mightiest Mortal is a young orphan who was personally chosen by the wizard Shazam to become a hero.
Batson wasn’t chosen at random. His parents were archaeologists who traveled to Egypt, There, their assistant, Theo Adam, killed them. It turned out that Adam was the resurrected form of Teth-Adam, also known as Black Adam. Shazam chose Billy because of this connection. When Billy yells “SHAZAM!” magix transforms him into the smiling Captain Marvel.
It’s worth noting that Shazam plays a big part in Flashpoint, the story being adapted for Ezra Miller’s solo Flash movie. In that story, Captain “Thunder” comes to life when a group of orphans call out “SHAZAM!” They assist Flash, Batman and Cyborg in their mission to stop the war between Wonder Woman and Aquaman.
5. Shazam Is an Acronym For the 6 ‘Immortal Elders’
“Shazam” is actually an acronym representing the “Immortal Elders,” a group of mythological gods. When Billy calls out “Shazam!” he gains the combined strength of these gods, each granting him different gifts.
As Captain Marvel, Billy has the Wisdom of Solomon, the Strength of Hercules, the Stamina of Atlas, the Power of Zeus, the Courage of Achilles and the Speed of Mercury.
Billy also has his own family of supporting characters, just like Superman and Batman. For example, Mary Marvel is Billy’s twin sister who can also call on the power of Shazam. The Marvel Family also includes Captain Marvel, Jr. and Uncle Marvel. Since DC started referring to Captain Marvel as Shazam, the Marvel Family was renamed the “Shazam Family.”