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Just Say The Magic Word
A few weeks ago I had the chance to talk to Producer Peter Safran as well as screenwriter Henry Gayden for SHAZAM! However, due to our more “spoilery” discussions, we held off on sharing for a bit, at least long enough for folks to see the film, which is important given the things they were able to keep under wraps (minus some Funko leaks, of course). But, we didn’t just talk SHAZAM!, we also talked the future of the DCEU, Black Adam, AQUAMAN 2 and more. You can also check out some clips with Safran talking about James Gunn on THE SUICIDE SQUAD here, but for everything else, jump below! But, be advised, if you still haven’t seen SHAZAM! then you may want to avoid some of the below. SPOILER WARNING!
Pretending to be a superhero is half the fun of childhood. But what if you could go from being a kid to an adult with god-worthy powers just by uttering a single word?
That’s exactly what happens in the movie Shazam, in which young character Billy Batson can instantly change into an adult superhero just by yelling the word “Shazam!”
I don’t like it
Shazam hit theaters on April 5, to positive reviews. CNET’s Rich Trenholm called it DC’s most fun adventure yet. “Unexpected, hilarious and joyful, Shazam is a giddy, exuberant blast of superhero freshness,” he said. “The idea that the hero is basically a kid gives the film a compelling and unique hook, and it’s a hook the filmmakers work for endless laughs and action.”
CNET sister site GameSpot also called the film DC’s best yet. “Director David Sandberg’s Shazam is the first movie in this shared cinematic universe with which I honestly have no major gripes — it’s just a good movie, whether or not you’re a fan of DC’s often gritty, dark films, or have any idea who or what Shazam is,” reviewer Michael Rougeau wrote.
The positive reviews most likely paved the way for Shazam to get a sequel, with Henry Gayden onboard to write the script.
Who made it?
The latest film in the DC Expanded Universe was directed by Sandberg and written by Gayden and Darren Lemke. Shazam also achieved a female filmmaking milestone. Michel Aller, who worked on Shazam, is the first solo female editor of a major superhero film, DC or otherwise.
Entertainment Weekly gives the first look at actor Zachary Levi in his superhero costume standing next to actor Jack Dylan Grazer, who plays orphan Freddy Freeman, in the movie Shazam.
Shazam is the first film depiction of the character since the 1941 serial Adventures of Captain Marvel, the superhero’s original name. It’s also the first full-length feature film centered around Shazam.
After the film officially wrapped, both star Levi and director Sandberg shared Shazam tributes online.
Levi posted to Instagram a fan-made image of Shazam slurping on a soft drink while watching fellow DC Comics superheroes Superman and Batman battle it out.
A couple of days later, Sandberg tweeted a short video mashup mixing the goofiness of Billy Batson/Shazam with the moodier movies fans are used to seeing out of the DC Comics film universe.
That was during post. It was during reshoots. [David] Sandberg sent me some previs and he was like, “Okay, in the final battle we have Sivana and Shazam! in the air and you need to write dialogue for that.” And so they had it all laid out, all staged, and they sent me this video and it just said “Dialogue here” and it showed the shots. And, someone put wind in and I was like, “Oh my God, there’s all this wind!” Like, if someone hadn’t put that wind tile in it never would’ve been born. But, I just heard this wind and I was like, “Oh my God, they can’t hear each other. Of course.” So, then I just wrote this big baroque speech from Sivana that then you cut to Shazam! and he can’t hear and it was great and they shot it.
Then, in editing, Sandberg added one or two more cutbacks to make it even funnier. And, it was just a beautiful part with everyone contributing and building to make what is probably one of the best jokes in the movie, if not the best one.
At the end there’s a significant moment when all the kids are granted the same powers as Shazam! I’m curious if this was always the intent and was it something you focused on when building the kids early on in the film?
I would not say it was the priority notecard that I put over my computer every day. And yet, when you watch the movie it crescendos in such an effective and wonderful way. We knew starting from Sivana coming on board as the main villain we knew we were going to do that, because we had room to do that and that became very exciting. But, we sort of had build the characters already and we had to further define them even more and had to give them a little more so that when we meet Darla and she’s super fast, you get that this is the younger Darla.
It was not a happy accident. It was very deliberate what we were doing and yet it just kind of came together very organically through the writing and casting of those great actors. And, suddenly, you have a foster home with all these people that we love.