Carol Danvers isn’t the only marvelous captain headed to theaters this year. On April 5, Shazam! brings some much-needed levity to the DC Extended Universe and judging by the film’s second full trailer, this hero’s journey isn’t going to be an easy one.
Shazam! stars Asher Angel as a 14-year-old boy named Billy Batson who transforms into a super-powered adult played by Zachary Levi (Chuck, Tangled) when he says the name of a mysterious, all-powerful wizard named Shazam. As the new trailer reveals, however, it takes more than a magic word to make a superhero. Billy might have a grown man’s body, but he still has a teenager’s brain, and the trailer milks a lot of comedy from the boy’s attempts to make sense of his new look and unpredictable abilities.
Things get even worse when Billy runs into an actual supervillain, Mark Strong’s Doctor Sivana. As a child, Sivana crossed paths with Shazam, too, but the wizard refused to make Sivana a champion. Sivana, now a successful inventor and businessman, doesn’t take kindly to having his position usurped by Billy, and should be more than a match for the young hero — at least at first.
In addition to Levi, Angel, and Strong, Shazam! stars Djimon Hounsou as the titular wizard, Jack Dylan Grazer as Billy’s superhero-obsessed foster brother Freddy Freeman, and Grace Fulton as Billy and Freddy’s foster sister Mary. Shazam! was written by Goosebumps‘ Darren Lemke and newcomer Henry Gayden and directed by low-budget horror maestro David F. Sandberg.
Billy Batson first appeared in a story by written by Bill Parker and drawn by C.C. Beck in 1940’s Whiz Comics No. 2, which was published by the now-defunct Fawcett Comics. Shortly afterward, Billy’s superpowered alter-ego, Captain Marvel, quickly became the most popular hero on the stands and outsold Superman for the duration of World War II.
Unfortunately, Captain Marvel’s success didn’t last. In 1952, courts decided that Captain Marvel infringed on DC Comics’ Superman copyright. Fawcett stopped publishing the character shortly thereafter. Later, Marvel Comics trademarked the name Captain Marvel. When DC Comics revived the character in the ’70s, it was forced to call the book Shazam. The name has stuck ever since.
If Shazam! is a success at the box office, he might face off against a very, very big star in the sequel. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was tapped to Billy Batson’s arch-nemesis, Black Adam, years ago, and is rumored to be making his debut as the ruthless anti-hero in DC and Warner Bros.’ upcoming Suicide Squad follow-up.
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