It’s been both a good and not-so-good year for the DC Universe. Critics gave both Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad a proper shellacking, and in both cases, their ire for these films was understandable and legitimate. And yet, as we’ve seen so often before, people showed up in droves to see their favorite heroes and villains do battle on the big screen. Perhaps the former film didn’t quite reach its goal but to say that it wasn’t successful in the fiscal sense is simply not supported by the numbers.
With all of this going on, and with Wonder Woman and Justice League not all that far away, it’s understandable that you’ve forgotten about Shazam!, the lightning-bolt-logoed, musclebound hero who has both fought with, and been a strong colleague of, Superman. The release date for the film is now in 2019 and the film has yet to announce a star to fill the red suit, though we do know that his nemesis, Black Adam, will be played by Dwayne Johnson. Beyond that, we don’t know all that much, but one of the film’s producers, Dany Garcia, took to Newsweek this week to give us an update. The first thing he discussed was Shazam’s place in the DCU, and here’s what he said via Newsweek and BDM:
“Shazam! is to live in the same world (as the other films), but we have incredible autonomy over this brand and franchise. We are working with a different team, different producers, directors…it’s a different set-up.”
“We don’t feel fettered by, or constrained by, the successes or failures and challenges of the other projects. That was a key component to our participation—that we be able to control the tone and the voice, and do it the way we want to.”
“It needs to be of the world. You’ve got Justice League, Wonder Woman with a different director, so you’re going to see different points of view. I think by the time we land with (Shazam!) we’ll fit nicely within the world that’s been created, but not such a shorthand relationship. (It’ll be) enough that people say, ‘Oh, this is within the family,’ but the culture will be a little different.”
That’s heartening but doesn’t quite clarify how the film is going. Mind you, this is vaguely similar talk to what the writers of Avengers: Infinity War recently said about being on their third draft of the script, in wanting to ensure that the script isn’t rushed along but rather tweaked to reach the correct tone. Garcia brought this up again when speaking about Johnson’s character. Here’s what he had to say:
“We’re getting (script) drafts in…it’s important to make sure we get the tone right for Black Adam, which is (The Rock’s) part. We don’t mind taking our time. We’re being very careful with each act and scene to go back and layer in as much as possible.”
So, at the very least, we now know that there have been drafts sent in and that edits are ongoing, and that there is a great deal of focus on striking the correct tone for Black Adam. This is distinctly good news, as DC, in particular, has had a dreadful run of thinly written, underdeveloped villains, whether it be Doomsday or that God-person toward the end of Suicide Squad who is mortally wounded by a bomb. If Garcia and his creative team can make a substantial rivalry between Shazam and Black Adam, that will go a long way toward making Shazam! one of the better DC titles to see release thus far.