Zachary Levi and the Rest of the ‘Shazam!’ Cast Talk About Bringing the DC Superhero to Life On Screen

“We live in a golden age of superhero movies,” Shazam! star Zachary Levi said during a panel discussion at WonderCon 2019 in Anaheim, California, on March 30. The 38-year-old actor plays the grown-up version of teenager Billy Batson (Asher Angel), who can transform into the titular superhero just by uttering the word “Shazam!” in the movie that opens this Friday.

Levi was joined by co-stars Angel, Mark Strong, Jack Dylan Grazer, and director David Sandberg at the event, where they talked about what it was like to bring the DC superhero to life on screen.

Bringing more humor and heart to the DC universe

Earlier movies in the DC universe were criticized by some for their dark tone, and the studio responded by using a lighter touch in recent efforts like Aquaman. But Shazam! turns the comedy up a few more notches.

“Fortunately what we got was a story about a 14-year-old kid who gets a superpower to say this word and become the super version of himself. That is inherently going to come with more comedy, more heart,” Levi said. Compared to previous DC movies, “we are definitely, perhaps, more funny,” he added. “There’s more comedy in it.”

Levi likened Shazam! to Marvel’s Deadpool, in the sense that both movies exist within their respective cinematic universes, but also are slightly apart from them. “We get this opportunity in Shazam! to be in the universe but also comment on it … we also get to have a slightly different take on the genre in general because of the heart that beats at the center of the movie.”

The actor has previously described Shazam! as DC’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

Will Shazam play a role in future DC films?

Zachary Levi
Zachary Levi at WonderCon 2019 | Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

Given that Shazam exists in the same world as Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, fans are wondering if they’ll ever get the chance to see him interact with those superheroes.

Sandberg played coy about whether we’d see Shazam and the Justice League meet in the movie. “You have to see it,” he said. (According to the Hollywood Reporter, there is a cameo from a familiar DC character at the end of the film.)

“I hope so,” Levi added. “I don’t know. Nobody at this table has any of  that information because that’s way above our pay grade. But I’d love for Shazam to be brought into the League. I think that would be incredible.”

Mark Strong on playing another DC villain

In the movie, British actor Mark Strong plays Shazam’s nemesis Dr. Thaddeus Sivana. It’s not the first time he’s played the bad guy in a DC. movie. In 2011’s Green Lantern, he portrayed Thaal Sinestro. That movie received negative reviews and underperformed at the box office, and plans for a sequel were canceled. Now, Strong is relishing his opportunity to play evil yet again.

“I feel like I’ve finally got the chance to carry on my little evil through-line in the DC Universe,” Strong said. “It’s taken a while. I never got the chance with Sinestro but I feel like I have it with Dr. Sivana.”

Shazam! is in theaters Friday, April 5.

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