Shazam! will be the next big DC movie coming on the heels of Aquaman's billion-dollar success, and will be the lead-in to Wonder Woman 1984's release in 2020 (the release of Joker this fall is a whole different animal). Shazam! is going to be one of the more pivotal films in DC and Warner Bros. cinematic universe - in part because it faces a big challenge to keep the positive momentum going, but also because it will be opening doors to a whole new part of the DC Universe: mysticism and magic.
We were lucky enough to be included in the set visit for Shazam!, where we got to talk with director David F. Sandberg about what it's like, trying to pry the the door open for magic to fully make its way into the DC movie universe:
"It's like, how do we explain that? Well, it's magic," he joked. "You just have to sort of take the magic sort of seriously and have it like a very real world thing... yet not to have it feel too foreign or weird."
From what we've seen so far, Shazam will get around any Harry Potter hangups about magic and how it works with a tried-and-true combination of humor and action. Scenes of Billy Batson (Asher Angel) changing into Shazam (Zachary Levi) and using his mystical lightning powers are getting more attention for how Sanders uses a Big-style spin on the film to illustrate how a kid would embrace getting his superpowers. Explaining when and how Shazam causes things to spark, or how many joules of electricity he gives off upon physical contact, don't seem to be much of a talking point.
It's also a plus that, while Sandberg describes having to approach the notion of magic in the world from a "realistic" perspective, Shazam! doesn't seem to take itself too seriously when it comes to the subject of magic. Case in point: the scene where Billy meets the old Wizard (Djimon Hounsou) and learns all about Shazam and his powers is totally played for laughs. In a wonderfully self-deprecating moment, Billy laughs off the profound pontificating the old Wizard is laying out, as Sanders has his main character acknowledge the silliness of all this, rather than try to make it seem so profound and self-serious that it makes the audience snicker, instead.8comments
If Shazam! can get over the hump and establish that mysticism exists in the DC Movie Universe (and is way more fun than what we saw from Suicide Squad's Enchantress), then films like Justice League Dark will have much more solid ground to build on.
The DC Movie Universe continues with Aquaman in theaters now, Shazam on April 5th, Joker in theaters on October 4th, and Wonder Woman 1984 in theaters on June 5th, 2020.