All it takes for orphan boy Billy Batson to become a superhero is to shout one word: “SHAZAM!” And in 2019, Warner Bros. is hoping moviegoers will be shouting the same word hysterically. Shazam! it being touted as the most fun movie in the DC Extended Universe to date.
On Wednesday, in an interview with the Toronto Sun during the press tour for his latest film Annabelle: Creation, director David F. Sanberg revealed the fun tone he’s aiming for with Shazam.
“The big attraction for me with that character is the fact that every kid dreams of being Superman, right? I mean I certainly did, and [Billy Batson] is a kid that gets that chance,” Sandberg said. “He gets to become the superhero. So it’ll be big with superpowers in a way. In terms of what people can expect, I think this will be one of the more fun or lighthearted movies so far in the DC universe. It certainly will be a departure.”
The classic character — sometimes known as the other Captain Marvel — gains his power from shouting “SHAZAM,” an acronym for the Greek gods Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury. Shazam was one of the most popular characters in the 1940s, to the point his comics outsold Superman’s (though the Man of Steel remained popular through other media like his radio serial). Shazam was also the first superhero to be adapted into film, in 1941’s Adventures of Captain Marvel starring Ronald Davidson.
But while Sandberg’s forte is in horror, such as his recent The Conjuring spin-off Annabelle: Creation, fans will be relieved to know that Sanberg understands that Shazam isn’t meant to be dark and gritty, but a lot of fun. Unlike most other superheroes, Billy Batson is an adolescent who wields the power of gods, which is often the source of both conflict and comedy in Shazam’s adventures.
Sandberg isn’t so different from other directors who have changed genres either. James Wan, also a horror director whose helmed films like Saw, Insidious, and The Conjuring, shifted gears in 2015 for Furious 7. Wan is currently shooting the next solo DC superhero movie, Aquaman, which will be released in 2018.
DC is already planning to expand Shazam’s universe with Dwayne Johnson set to play the role of his archenemy, Black Adam, in his own solo movie before they clash on the big screen.
Shazam! is slated for release in 2019.