Shazam Movie: Five Things We Want to See
After years in development, fading into obscurity and now years without an ongoing comic book series, Shazam is apparently in active and aggressive development at Warner Bros. and will reportedly be announced at Comic Con International: San Diego.
Based on one of those properties for which everyone has a great deal of affection but nobody seems willing to spend any money, Shazam is a property that has had popular live-action and animated adaptations in the past but is still not mentioned in the same breath as characters like The Flash and Green Lantern most of the time.
So, assuming Nikki Finke's rumors are true and this movie is coming in 2016, what do we want to see out of it?
Embrace the Big Red Cheese
Tim Burton's Batman kicked off the trend of embracing the darker and more earth-shaking aspect of superhero fiction on film, and just about every movie that has come along since has followed suit.
Even the tonally lighter Marvel Studios movies have tons of collateral damage that we just don't dwell on the same way we did with Man of Steel becuase the world they inhabit is more fantastical and the consequences of actions aren't as evident.
Films like Bryan Singer's X-Men movies and Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy have made a comfortable home for themselves somewhere in between very serious and deadly serious, and almost everyone loves them for it.
So why don't we want to see that here? Well, it's pretty simple: Captain Marvel has never really worked that way.
Captain Marvel/Shazam has only ever really worked when the writers embraced the inherent silliness of it and had some fun with the premise and the character.
That doesn't mean you can't still have consequences and danger; both Jerry Ordway's The Power of Shazam and the Keith Giffen/J.M. DeMatteis Justice League run
Black and white morality
This is another one where they can't go in the same direction as every other superhero movie.
You cannot have a version of Shazam where he has to kill Black Adam in the first movie to prove to himself that killing is wrong, or whatever crazy logic has been applied to the death at the end of Man of Steel (for the record, I don't oppose that killing...but that explanation is nonsense). Heck, there's a good chance Mr. Mind will show up in this film and even though he's a bug, and so it's easy to dehumanize him and make the killing seem like...well, like squashing a bug...I'd rather Captain Marvel didn't even do that.
What separates Captain Marvel from Superman, in many ways, is Billy Batson, and the role Billy plays in shaping the power of Shazam. Please, for the love of God, don't try to overthink this. He's a kid, and shouldn't be doing things that he knows to be wrong -- especially killing.
Don't play the Jekyll and Hyde card
Oh, yeah...speaking of Billy.
The Shazam matrix has always been a little murky to me, but the bottom line is that while the boy and the hero are separte entities to some extent, Billy should be able to exert control over the body while the powers are "turned on."
Yeah, it's inevitable that unless they go with Billy just full-on making a physical transformation, the writers will want to depict at least a little bit of the characters finding their footing sharing the same skin. But Shazam isn't Firestorm and he shouldn't have long-term problems coming to a status quo, or an internal monologue, or some Hulk-like angst.
The Rock as Black Adam
Is that one weirdly specific, considering the relatively broad other topics here? Ah, well.
For years, there was talk that Dwayne Johnson would be Black Adam. Everyone more or less agreed he was perfect for it. Then, suddenly, the movie went away. Now that it's supposedly back on, and Johnson has said that he's lined up to play a DC character, there's no good reason that this shouldn't be his chance to prove everybody right.
Also, a truly massive star will help a movie like Shazam, which doesn't have the built in awareness of Superman or Wonder Woman.
Top tier talent
...and, yeah, The Rock brings us to a final point: if this film is going to work, it has to have top-tier talent attached to it. You need a director and special effects guys who can really make the lightning do cool things; you need name actors that will bring people to the theater in spite of the fact that "Shazam" brings most casual viewers to mind of Gomer Pyle and that one episode of Archer.
...Yeah. That one.
Bonus: Consider going out of continuity
This one isn't technically something we want to see, but certainliy something that should be considered: Maybe this movie doesn't need to take place in the same world as Justice League.
Yeah, the whole idea here seems to be building a DC Cinematic Universe...but you're also making a Sandman film and the odds are good he won't be making a cameo in Justice League either. Shazam and the Marvel Family were created for another publisher and have never totally fit into the DC Universe. Trying to force them into the even-darker cinematic version of that universe could be a bit messy if it isn't done just right.0comments