File this under “Yeah, no kidding,” but it’s been officially confirmed that David F. Sandberg‘s ‘Shazam!’ movie is based on Geoff Johns’ relaunch of the character in the New 52. However, as Sandberg stated last December, there is one major difference between Johns’ reinvention and the film: “He’s not a huge dickhead.”
Johns penned the miniseries ‘Flashpoint’ which depicted an alternate timeline and rather than one Shazam hero, there was an entire team. When DC launched the New 52 reboot, Johns wrote the ‘Shazam!’ backup feature that ran in the pages of the ‘Justice League’ comic. In that strip, he maintained the larger “Shazam Family,” and while no one has officially confirmed it, the Shazam Family looks to appear in the film.
If things turn out the way we expected, each of Billy Batson’s foster siblings will appear as both kids and superheroic adults: Ross Butler/Ian Chen as Eugene; Adam Brody/Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddy; DJ Cotrona/Jovan Armand as Pedro; and Meagan Good/Faithe Herman as Darla. Grace Fulton is cast as Mary, but is much older than the other young actors, so it’s unclear whether she is playing average citizen Mary Bromfield or her older doppelganger.
In the New 52, ‘Justice League’ #7, in 2012, Johns re-invented ‘Shazam’ for a new age. The biggest alteration was actually renaming the lead character “Shazam” instead of “Captain Marvel,” the alias he had used since 1940. But the comics starring Captain Marvel, published by Fawcett Comics, ceased publication in 1953, partially due to a copyright infringement lawsuit from DC Comics, who attested that the character was a ripoff of Superman. Ironically, in 1972, DC acquired the rights to this character and all other superheroes that Fawcett had published in the 1940s-50s. But in the meantime, Timely/Atlas Comics had changed their name to Marvel Comics and created their own Captain Marvel AND claimed all rights to the name “Marvel.” DC was forced to market the Golden Age Captain Marvel as “Shazam!” in comics, toys and the popular 1970s live action TV series, which was followed by an animated take. Therefore most people actually thought his name was “Shazam.”
With plans in place to bring the DC Universe to life on the big screen, Johns and the other DC executive decided it was smarter to rename their Captain Marvel “Shazam” to avoid confusion. But the big drawback of Johns’ storyline is that he reinvented wide-eyed, optimistic Billy Batson as a conniving jerk-face. It was hard to root for such an awful character. It looks as though Sandberg is just plucking out the good parts and leaving the terrible parts to dwell in the pages of the comics.
In Johns’ strip, villain Dr. Sivana unlocks the tomb of Black Adam and embarks on a quest to find the Seven Deadly Sins. And recent buzz is that the Seven Deadly Sins play a large part in the movie, so once again, this indicates that the film will draw from Johns’ interpretation.
Were you a fan of Johns’ ‘Shazam!’ backup strip? Is this a good source for the movies?