'Shazam!' Director Claims It Will Be a Fun, Lighthearted DCEU Movie

Thursday, 03 August 2017 - 8:35PM
DC Comics
Shazam
Thursday, 03 August 2017 - 8:35PM
'Shazam!' Director Claims It Will Be a Fun, Lighthearted DCEU Movie
DC
Unlike most DCEU movies, the upcoming Shazam! is actually designed to be fun, claims director David F. Sandberg.

It's a bold claim that's also unexpectedly candid about the director's view on the majority of the DC movies we've seen in the past few years. Apparently, unlike, say, Man of Steel (in which the titular hero drowns in a river of skulls) or Batman v Superman (in which everybody is inexplicably annoyed about having to save the lives of tiny, insignificant humans), Shazam! is going to be a film that's first and foremost about a childhood sense of wonder.

Speaking to the Toronto Sun, Sandberg explained:

Opening quote
"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. 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."
Closing quote


From this perspective, it makes sense for Shazam! to be a lot more fun and perhaps even a bit silly, like a ten year old playing with action figures and imagining his adventures rather than a grim deconstruction of why superheroes don't fit with Ayn Rand philosophy, as we've had thus far. Considering the movie will follow a young boy who can transform into a Herculean superhero when he shouts a magic word, a fun tone would be much more fitting. Especially if The Rock ends up appearing as Black Adam.

It's also very likely that Sandberg is taking cues from Wonder Woman, the film proved both that DCEU movies can be fun, and that Warner Bros' previous direction of gritty superhero angst simply doesn't resonate with audiences quite as much as a good old fashioned unironic comic book hero story.




It takes guts to go with Shazam's comic book origin (albeit he was Captain Marvel back then) in a movie set within the DCEU. It would be easy to make Billy Batson slightly older, and therefore more marketable and serious, rather than sticking with the story of a small child who gains the power to turn into a suspicious Superman lookalike. This childlike optimism is very deliberately baked into the film from the sounds of things, and could well signal that someone at DC has learned the right lesson from the succession of critical failures this cinematic universe endured before Wonder Woman shook things up a bit.

At the same time, it's hard to ignore the fact that Sandberg is not known for kid-friendly movies. He may want to make something that sounds like the next E.T., but his background is rooted pretty firmly in the horror genre, with Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation both telling very, very creepy stories that don't sit well with his Shazam! plans.

It's okay for a director to take a new path and try out a new genre, but DC hired Sandberg for this role without any definitive proof that he can helm a big budget blockbuster kid's movie. The studio probably didn't have an optimistic, fun film in mind when they got Sandberg on board, and it'll be interesting to see how his views for the project differ over time from what Warner Bros is expecting him to bring to the table.

Because thus far, what Sandberg has exclusively brought to the table is the kind of movies that would put children in therapy for decades to come. If DC is blindly trusting him with creative control over a movie's tone and style without giving his credentials and personal worldview a second thought, then maybe the company hasn't learned anything from their time with Zack Snyder after all.

Shazam! is scheduled to come out sometime in 2019.
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