Shazam! is now in theaters, adding an praise to its critical acclaim from early screenings. It's the latest in a growing line of victories for movies based on DC Comics characters, following Wonder Woman and Aquaman. Looking back at the hard work put into the film which is loaded with heart, producer Peter Safran is enthusiastic and proud of the response.
Spoilers for the Shazam! movie follow. Major spoilers!
"It is so unbelievably satisfying to get this kind of response," Safran told ComicBook.com. "It's so difficult to make a movie that really connects with the critics and, you hope, with the audiences, which we'll discover this weekend, but it seems like it really is. It's really hard to do that, and particularly when you're trying for a tone that is somewhat unusual and perhaps a bit of a throwback, and so the fact that our touchstone was always those movies, the early Amblin movies, of Goonies and Gremlins and Ghostbusters, that was always the touchstone, the fact that we really managed to thread that needle feels incredibly good. We did something special, and you don't always get rewarded for doing something unique and different in this business. People seem to have really embraced it."
While Shazam! is loaded with heart, levity, and fun moments, director David F. Sandberg flexed his horror genre muscles when he injected some scary beats into the movie. Mark Strong's Dr. Thaddeus Sivana brought some dark and intense sequences to the film which aren't often plugged into PG-13 comic book movies.
As it turns out, the film makers had complete freedom in crafting Shazam!'s narrative and tone. "We never got any pressure at all," Safran said. "In fact, if anything, we got a lot of support, because if you look back at those movies that I referenced earlier, they all had some scares in them. They do have some real moments which a kid might get a little scared of, but then be in love with being scared."
Going into a PG-13 movie aiming to garner box office loves from audiences of all ages and families, some might look at adding scary sequences as a risk. However, the gamble seems to have paid off in Shazam!'s case as the box office is on the road to victory and critical praise is only bolstering those numbers.
"If you think about the boardroom scene maybe as probably the most scary, with the introduction of the Sins there and the killing of the brother, et cetera," Safran said. "Everybody embraced the idea of doing it, because it really established Sivana as a true evil adversary for Shazam!, whose actions had real consequences. We always felt that for the movie to really work, you need to have a villain that people were scared of."
What did you think of Shazam!'s tone and contrasting scenes between fun and dark? What do you want to see in the sequel? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
Shazam! is now playing in theaters.