With the return of Henry Cavill's Superman in upcoming DC movies, fans have already started assuming that the best odds are on the character appearing in Shazam! 2. Superman was repeatedly referenced in the first movie, and had a cameo (albeit only from the neck down) in the movie's final moments. But more than that, there has been a long-standing social media "feud" between Cavill and Shazam!'s Zachary Levi, with each of them having said numerous times that they wanted to see what would happen if the two squared off on the big screen as they have done so many times in the comic book source material.
Cavill's appearances have yet to be set, let alone confirmed, so anything can happen -- but certainly it seems possible. Maybe, like Dan Jurgens and Gil Kane did in the '90s, they can pit the two against each other by way of mind-control so that they can fight briefly and then team up.
"If I could battle anyone, I think Superman," Levi said at a convention last fall. "I think that the Captain Marvel-Superman battle that we've seen repeatedly in comics before, and even in cartoons, I think that would be super awesome — pardon the pun. It would be very cool to have that matchup. And then we realize that we're very evenly matched, because he's very susceptible to magic, and then we bro it out. Then it's like, 'Oh my God, I have a mentor!' I would love that."
Levi and Cavill have both made jokes about it over the years, but even beyond the humor, one of Levi's favorite-ever Shazam stories involves a fight between the two heroes.
"As soon as I got the job, Geoff Johns sent me a whole bunch of stuff and some other stuff recommended stuff. I wanted to read those to just kind of familiarize myself but also see if there were little nuggets or little things," Levi told reporters. "But the truth is, The New 52 is really not canon for this, because this is even different than what the New 52 is."
Along the way, besides Johns's work, Levi said that he did find other comics featuring Shazam that he either read for the first time, or re-read, and enjoyed. He singled out one particular story -- Kingdom Come by Alex Ross and Mark Waid -- which he said informed his performance even more than Johns's run.
"I did quite like Kingdom Come," he said. "Even though that's a completely different situation, it shows Captain Marvel's innocence. He's an adult, and he still has that heart. And I thought, 'Oh that's such a cool thing to be able to take that in.' And it's ultimately a sacrificial move at the end and all of that I just found that was more inspiration for me than even The New 52 in a lot of ways."
In Kingdom Come, an adult Billy Batson is manipulated into working for Lex Luthor, becoming an enforcement arm of Luthor's criminal enterprises. This ultimately leads to an epic battle between Shazam and Superman in the final issue.