Can ‘Shazam’ Movie Find ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’-Level Success?

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has announced on Twitter that he’s set to play the villain Black Adam in the movie version of the relatively obscure DC comic Shazam being brought to the screen by Warner Bros. The Hollywood Reporter said that there is a screenwriter and a producer attached to the project, but who will star as the hero Shazam is currently unknown.

DC has been trying to catch up with Marvel at the movie game for ages. Marvel’s cohesive universe, more lighthearted approach, and ownership by Disney have made its movie properties more successful than DC’s. DC has had big hits, in particular with the Batman Dark Knight franchise, but movies like Green Lantern have flopped at the box office while even Marvel’s lesser-known properties seem to be infallible.

When it was first announced Marvel planned to make a Guardians of the Galaxy film, many questioned the decision to make a movie based on the unpopular comic about a bunch of aliens who essentially spend their time looking for expensive stuff to pawn. But Guardians went on to be the highest-grossing movie of the year so far after its release in August, making $275 million throughout the typically slow month at the box office according to Box Office Mojo. DC’s attempt at turning a less-known comic into a blockbuster didn’t turn out so well, as Green Lantern only made $116 million domestically during its run in theaters despite starring Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively.

Shazam himself has a controversial history. The character was originally named Captain Marvel and published by Fawcett Comics back in the 1940s, at which time the story of a boy who could transform himself into a hero with the powers of six mythological figures by saying the word “shazam” (an acronym for Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury) was a top-seller. DC ended up suing Fawcett over the hero, who they felt was a copy of their own Superman. Later, his named had to be changed from Captain Marvel to Shazam due to complaints from Marvel about their own Captain Marvel. Now, not many aside from comic book aficionados know who Shazam is.