Warner Brothers have announced that Zachary Levi will be playing Captain Marvel in their upcoming film Shazam! Levi, best known for playing the titular character in the comedy series Chuck, will be playing the adult version of the character, with the child actor as yet unknown.
For those who do not know much about the character, and for whom my last sentence will feel like total gobbledegook, Captain Marvel is one of the longest running superheroes in comic books. His alter-ego is a young boy named Billy Batson, who gains the power to turn into an adult hero called Captain Marvel whenever he says the magic word ‘Shazam’ (get it? That’s the title of the movie). Clearly, the character is one of the sillier survivors from the golden age of comic books, and it seems like Captain Marvel may clash with the gritty and grim DC Cinematic Universe. Producer Toby Emmerich is well aware of this, and has already stated that the film will have a markedly different tone from the depressingly dark DC titles like Batman v Superman. It seems like DC is continuing their trend of having their films be more like their competitors Marvel, who are still absolutely killing it both critically and in box office returns.
Levi’s casting as Captain Marvel seems to cement this idea, as the comic actor is well suited to playing lighter roles. Alongside Shazam!, Dwayne Johnson has been cast as Captain Marvel’s nemesis Black Adam. The Rock is another actor best suited to comical, lighthearted roles, so it does really seem like these Captain Marvel films will have a nice bit of levity to them. Confusingly, Black Adam was originally cast to be in the Shazam! film, but this plan has now been altered, and now the anti-hero is getting his own standalone film before appearing in Shazam! 2: Adam Boogaloo (The name is subject to change). Are Warner Brothers allowing for more time to flesh out the famous antagonist? Cynically cashing in on The Rock’s casting? You decide! (It’s definitely the second one though).
To add to the confusion of these movies, we also have a Marvel Cinematic Universe Captain Marvel film coming out shortly before Shazam!, that is actually titled Captain Marvel. For those who don’t know, back in the early days of Marvel Comics, DC were having trouble getting the copyright through for their Captain Marvel character, and so Marvel went and created another, totally different Captain Marvel character of their own. Eventually, DC could use their Captain Marvel character, but they had to use the name Shazam as the title of the comic. And now, because of cock ups over 50 years ago, we are in our current predicament. Zachary Levi seemed to reference all this, when he announced on Twitter how grateful he was to be playing the ‘Original Captain Marvel’. Many have interpreted that as subtle insult to Marvel, especially mean since he actually appears in their Thor movies. Tut Tut Zachary…
So, we now have a DC Captain Marvel film trying to be more like a Marvel movie that stars a guy who is actually in Marvel movies coming out only a month later than a Marvel Captain Marvel film that is actually allowed to be called Captain Marvel.
Confused yet? Just wait until 2019. Shazam! is set to begin production next year, with its release date currently set as April 5 2019.