We’ve known for a while that Dwayne Johnson won’t be appearing in Shazam! as the title character’s long-time archnemesis Black Adam, even though the wrestler turned actor is still playing the villain in a standalone film at some point. But when Collider visited Warner Bros. to watch footage from Shazam!—you can find a rundown of all that here—director David F. Sandberg and producer Peter Safran sat down to discuss the film and, most notably, why exactly Mark Strong’s Dr. Sivana was chosen over Black Adam for Billy Batson’s first big bad.
The reason is pretty hopeful, actually, in terms of the future of the DCEU. Taking its cue from films like Wonder Woman and Aquaman, Shazam! isn’t striving to connect to a larger universe, instead offering a standalone look at the hero’s origins. Although a post-credit scene with Johnson was “never a conversation”, according to Safran, a two-hander with both Shazam and Black Adam was discussed before the studio decided to keep the film focused.
“When I came aboard it was always Sivana,” Sandberg said. “They played with the idea of having the first movie be both Shazam and Black Adam and felt like it needs more set-up than you want to spend in the first movie. You want to introduce him first.”
Added Safran: “Shazam’s origin story is big enough to merit its own film. I think that’s what everyone discovered early on. When you see the movie you’ll see that’s what it deserved and that’s what it got.”
However, in the extended footage we saw, Djimon Hounsou‘s Wizard transports a young Billy Batson (Asher Angel) to the Rock of Eternity, where, among other deep-dive DC Easter Eggs, we got a glimpse of a former, cape-wearing Shazam vessel that used his powers for evil. It’s certainly not Dwayne Johnson, but it definitely could be Black Adam.
Safran played coy.
“You could read it that way if you choose to,” the producer said. “If you saw something…it’s like a Rorschach. If you see that in it, you see that in it.”
Sivan isn’t the only adversary set to square off with Zachary Levi’s Shazam, though. Safran revealed that the Seven Deadly Enemies of Man, also known as the Seven Deadly Sins, will play a part in the film. Conceived in 1940 by writer Bill Parker and artist C.C. Beck, the Sins are seven powerful demons representing lust, gluttony, wrath, sloth, greed, envy, and pride. Trapped in the Rock of Eternity by the Wizard, the demons first appeared in their imprisoned form alongside the first appearance of Billy Batson himself in Whiz Comics #2.
Safran compared what Sandberg has done with the Sins to James Wan‘s work with The Trench in Aquaman. (Similiar to Wan, Sandberg cut his teeth on horror films like Annabelle: Creation.)
“The Sins are gonna’ be in some way involved in the story,” Safran said. “So without revealing exactly how they’re integrated into the storyline, I would say that’s probably as close to what James [Wan] did with The Trench. We really let David flex [by building] those kinds of sequences that are scary and cool.”
Shazam hits theaters on April 5. For more on the film, check out the links below:
- ‘Shazam!’: 18 Things to Know About the Next DC Movie
- Zachary Levi Reveals How He Landed ‘Shazam!’ and Making Something Between ‘Superman’ and ‘Big’
- Mark Strong on ‘Shazam!’, Comic Book Movies, and Having a 14-Year-Old Archnemesis