Warner Bros.’ upcoming DC Films production Shazam! isn’t standard superhero fare: its kid-turned-adult superhero protagonist allows it a unique perspective, making the David F. Sandberg-directed tale a crossing between Superman and Big.
“It’s such a unique character, and it is that wish fulfillment of a kid that gets to become an adult superhero, which we haven’t seen before, really,” Sandberg told EW. “So it’s just a really fun movie that has its own style.”
“But by the way, I think very deftly put into the hands of someone who has such an incredible vision as yourself, and you have such awesome style yourself, so you get to bring that [to this movie],” Zachary Levi, who plays superhero Shazam, told Sandberg. “That’s one of the reasons I was very excited about it was watching your previous work, that has nothing to do with a family-friendly superhero genre.”
The Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation director hails from a horror background, but brings a lighter touch to the typically darker DCEU — and with him comes a cheery and excitable superhero clad in a brightly-colored costume.
“I wanted him to feel a bit like an old fashioned super hero from the golden age of comics,” Sandberg said of the Shazam suit on Twitter. “Figured it would also make him stand out from the rest.”
Levi and Sandberg have frequently cited the 1988 Tom Hanks comedy — about a teen who is transformed into an adult by way of a magic wish — as a heavy influence on Shazam!, which dropped its well-received and fun trailer during San Diego Comic-Con in July.
“Ultimately the hope is it's going to feel like the movie Big but with superpowers,” Levi told KTLA 5. “I mean, that’s what Shazam is. Billy Batson who’s 13 gets this magical power, he says ‘Shazam’... and then he becomes me. So you’ve got to have the heart of that kind of Tom Hanks of the kid in you.”
Set firmly in the connected DCEU — already home to Wonder Woman, Justice League, and Aquaman — Shazam! tells the story of teen foster kid Billy (Angel), who is endowed with the ability to transform into Levi’s adult superhero after an encounter with an ancient wizard.
Shazam! opens April 5, 2019.