Given how many hours of live-action comic book entertainment we get every year nowadays, it might be easy to forget how excited we all were about Shazam! just a short time ago. The movie, which stars Zachary Levi in the title role and features a diverse cast of young actors as Billy Batson's foster family, earned a 90% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and enthusiastic support from comic book fans. It hasn't earned nearly as much as Marvel's box office juggernauts this year, but it was also made for a reported $100 million (compared to $250 million-plus for Batman v Superman and even more than that for Avengers: Endgame), so a $350 million global haul and more than its production budget back in North America means pretty solid numbers. That's for a movie that featured a largely unknown superhero, a largely unknown group of young actors, and hid one of its biggest selling points: a fun and diverse group of superheroes introduced in the third act.
ComicBook.com was on hand for his panel at Fan Expo Dallas, where Levi discussed the issues of diversity and representation as he sees them in Shazam!.
"[When] I was a little kid, always wanted to grow up and be a superhero, like everyone else in here. Some of us still are hoping for that to happen. Maybe I'll wake up one morning and my genes mutated and I can teleport. Please," Levi joked, but then turned serious. "So, the dreams of that little kid getting to be a superhero happening, the dreams of me as an actor getting to portray such a cool superhero, that was happening. The very character itself, the fact that I got to play a 14-year-old in a grown, super body was just thrilling and amazing. But the fact that all of that movie was, like the heartbeat of that movie, was the family dynamic of the movie. And such an incredibly diverse and beautiful rainbow of diversity in that family, ethnically, but also one kid being disabled and all of them being foster kids. I have never in my life seen a movie, even not something that I haven't been a part of, that is so inclusive of so many groups of people that have not felt included. So I was like, 'This is gold. I'm so stoked. I'm so stoked that this is the heartbeat of what this movie is.' So it's an honor. It genuinely, is an honor. And it's been so cool being on social media and seeing so many people who have felt that, and felt seen, finally. Foster kids or people who were in the foster system, are now adults and out of it, or kids that are in right now. And them feeling seen. If we can do anything in this world, I hope that we can always be, again, looking at people and saying to them, even just in the way we treat them, 'I see you. I see you and I value you. And you're worthy of living the life that you're living.'"
Shazam! stars Zachary Levi in the titular role with Asher Angel playing his younger counterpart. The film also features Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddy Freeman, Mark Strong as the villainous Dr. Sivana, Djimon Hounsou as The Wizard, along with Cooper Andrews, Marta Milans, Ian Choi, Faithe Herman, Jovan Armand, and Grace Fulton.
Shazam! is still playing in some theaters, although as the summer movie season marches on and the home video release dates inch closer it's harder to find them. Other upcoming DC films include Joker on October 10th, Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) on February 7, 2020, and Wonder Woman 1984 on June 5, 2020.
Have you subscribed to ComicBook Nation, the official Podcast of ComicBook.com yet? Check it out by clicking here or listen below.
In this latest episode, we go all in on the IT CHAPTER TWO trailer and do a deep dive into all the movies coming out this summer! After Avengers: Endgame is there any movie worth seeing? Find out the answer and make sure to subscribe now to never miss an episode!