Zachary Levi Compares Shazam to Christian Bale’s Batman

Zachary Levi – currently on a press junket promoting his new DC film Shazam! – portrays the 14-year-old Billy Batson in the box-office smash. Levi is widely known for starring in the TV series Chuck, Thor: Ragnarok, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and Tangled. While he has played supporting roles in more than one MCU film, Shazam! marks the actor’s first time playing the title role in a superhero-themed movie.

Zachary Levi and Stephen Colbert
Zachary Levi and Stephen Colbert | Photo by Scott Kowalchyk/CBS via Getty Images

While DC has struggled, in the past, to gain the critical reception that Marvel movies often receive, Shazam! has proved to be an exception to the rule, as was Wonder Woman. The film currently boasts a 91% critic score and 90% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Zachary Levi’s charming, comedic, and heartfelt performance is said to exist at the core of this film’s success.

Levi sat down for an interviewer with JoBlo Celebrity Interviews to discuss Shazam!, the nature of playing a 14-year-old boy turned full-fledged superhero, and what makes this movie different from its contemporaries.

Zachary Levi on the “enthusiasm” his character gets to retain, as compared to Batman

In Shazam!, unlike in the majority of superhero-themed films, the actor playing Billy Batson gets to retain all the excitement that comes with playing a superhero and put it on the screen.

What is a 14-year-old kid going to do when he becomes a superhero? He’s going to freak out, and then he’s going to play. This is the very facet of Billy Batson’s persona that Levi connected most with, and he explained to the interviewer the liberties this characterization permitted. He told JoBlo Celebrity Interviewers:

“The fact that I just got to kind of be my authentic, energetic, stoked self, like the kid in me that gets to be a superhero. And I don’t have to hold any of that back. I don’t have to be Christian Bale who I’m, presumably, I’m sure was beyond stoked that he was Batman, but then he has to reign all that enthusiasm in to be [enacts brief Christian Bale’s impersonation] down here.”

JoBlo Celebrity Interviews

Zachary Levi was permitted to be excited. He did not have to take on a dark past, or a traumatically triggered life mission; rather, he just got to be a kid again.

In essence, casting directors told Levi that he would get to play a superhero, and then they requested, for the entirety of filming, that he retain the level of enthusiasm he felt upon hearing the news. Sounds like the perfect role.

Zachary Levi talks young co-stars and previous knowledge surrounding ‘Shazam!’

Zachary Levi goes on to explain how being around Jack and Asher – two young co-stars also portraying the title character – helped him access a childhood mindset and energy level.

While not knowing much about Shazam! and Captain Marvel before filming the DC movie, Levi explains that he read a lot of comic books while growing up, and was familiar with the concept.

Levi discusses the “iconic archetype” at the basis of the film: the childhood dream to just say a magic word and transform into a savior. In the process of auditioning for the role, he explained that he dove headfirst into the comics and committed to a great degree of research, according to JoBlo Celebrity Interviews. And based on reviews, he prepared perfectly, as he captures the comic book character with a sense of familiarity and ease.

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Last night was quite possibly the most surreal moment of my life. Over the last 20 years I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to grind my way thru this town, and this business. My journey has been an incredibly blessed one, but also not without its stumbles, struggles, darkness, and doubt. I’ve always believed that this was what I was created to do, but have also always known that there are no guarantees in this life. Truth is, I nearly gave up on the whole damn thing. Because of some bad programming I received as a kid, and despite the incredible jobs that I had been a part of, I still felt like a failure. That I had not, and would not, accomplish what I always thought I could or would or should. And then, perhaps in my darkest dark, I was able to save my own life thru the love and support and my friends and family, and the help of incredible professionals who took my hand and gently walked me back to understanding and loving myself, perhaps for the first time in my entire life. There is not a doubt in my mind that I was only standing on that red carpet last night BECAUSE I first learned to love myself while standing OFF of it. Words will continue to fail me as I will continue to thank all those who have helped get me here, but that won’t stop me from trying. I am so incredibly thankful to @warnerbrosentertainment, @newlinecinema, @dccomics, @ponysmasher, and Peter Safran for believing in me, and trusting me with this role and responsibility. You have quite literally changed my life in the most incredible of ways. There are not enough words to express my gratitude. There simply are not.

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Shazam! hit the silver screen on April 5, and has since been the talk of the town, as it’s giving some competition to its Marvel counterparts. Zachary Levi is also set to star in the upcoming Star Wars: Detours tv series as Biff Tarkin, which is currently in post-production and scheduled for a late 2019 release.