David F. Sandberg has made a name for himself the last couple of years with the well-received horror films Lights Out and the upcoming Annabelle: Creation, but he’ll be shifting gears when goes on to helm Shazam! for the DCEU. For those unfamiliar with the DC Comics superhero, he’s kind of unusual. His alter ego is a kid, Billy Batson. When Batson shouts, “SHAZAM”, he transforms into a costume adult who basically has all of Superman’s powers. So it’s Superman, but with a child’s mind.
Sandberg, speaking to the Toronto Sun, is well-aware that this kind of premise is more in line with comic fare than the dark and gritty entries that kicked off the DCEU:
“The big attraction for me with that character is the fact that every kid dreams of being Superman, right? I mean I certainly did, and (Billy Batson) is a kid that gets that chance,” Sandberg tells the Sun. “He gets to become the superhero. So it’ll be big with superpowers in a way. In terms of what people can expect, I think this will be one of the more fun or lighthearted movies so far in the DC universe. It certainly will be a departure.”
I’ve got no investment in Shazam! one way or the other, but I like the idea of Sandberg having fun with the character. It also lets Shazam be his own character in the DCEU and not be too reliant on how he’s going to tie in with the other superheroes. If the Justice League wanted to call him in, there would be the argument over, “Yeah, he’s got all of Superman’s powers, but he’s also essentially a child. Do we really want to put a child in harm’s way?”
This approach also seems to fit with where Geoff Johns wants to take the DCEU following the success of Wonder Woman, which had weight but wasn’t afraid to have characters joke around and just have fun.
Shazam! is set to arrive in 2019.