All along its development, it’s always been difficult to know what to make of Shazam!, the cinematic adaptation of the longrunning Captain Marvel comics series.
When the news of the movie first broke two years ago, all that was really known about it was that Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson would be in the film – at first, it wasn’t even clear whether The Rock would be taking on the role of the hero or the villain of the piece (some even thought he might be playing both Shazam and Black Adam – but if anyone could pull off two roles, it’d be Dwayne Johnson).
Ultimately, it was announced that Johnson would be playing the villainous Black Adam, and that he would co-produce the movie, alongside Dany Garcia.
As the DC Extended Universe has begun taking shape with movies like Aquaman and Justice League in development, there’s been a conspicuous lack of information about Shazam! and its place alongside other movies in DC’s roster.
Finally, though, confirmation has been given: Dwayne Johnson’s superhero movie will indeed be part of the wider DC canon. Speaking to Newsweek, Johnson’s partner on the film, Dany Garcia, explained their feelings about the upcoming film:
“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.”
So according to Garcia, Shazam! Will take place within the DCEU, but will be spared from negative association with movies like Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman thanks to a completely different creative team.
This makes sense - if anything can be learned from Suicide Squad’s box office performance, it’s that if you market a movie aggressively enough, audiences will go see it in spite of horribly damning reviews.
The draw for the Shazam! Movie will be seeing Dwayne Johnson in a villainous role (something that hasn’t been a common site outside of the wrestling ring), so there’s little danger of the movie being hurt financially by connections to Zack Snyder’s poorly received take on Superman.
It’s notable just how much stellar talent Warner Bros has managed to sign on for its comic book universe. Big names like Will Smith and Dwayne Johnson are significant wins for the company, and poaching half the cast of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies means making sure there’s no shortage of well renowned actors in the movies.
It’s just a shame that the writing and editing for these films aren’t quite as well-received.
With Dwayne Johnson personally invested in the Shazam! Project, though, it’ll be interesting to see whether the movie turns out succeeding where Batman v Superman or Suicide Squad falls down.