At San Diego Comic-Con today, DC unveiled a surprise first look at another of its upcoming superhero films, Shazam!, which will star Zachary Levi as the film’s titular superhero. It’s a surprisingly funny-looking film, which feels like it’s just what DC needs to get away from the dark and grim image that its franchise has been saddled with.
The trailer introduces us to Billy Batson, a kid who’s introduced to a new foster family and school. After fighting off a couple of bullies, he’s chosen by a wizard called Shazam, who tells him that if he utters his name, he’ll gain superpowers. He does, and he abruptly turns into an adult hero. Think Big, but with superpowers — he works on trying to figure out what his powers are — zapping people’s phones to charge them and discovers that he’s bullet proof. It looks like a surprisingly funny and zany superhero film, which will be a huge turn from the incredibly grim DC films like Man of Steel and Batman V. Superman.
The character is the first to be introduced that wasn’t part of that initial batch of heroes in Justice League, which makes a bit of sense: DC has pulled back from its more ambitious overarching Expanded Universe in favor of films that are a bit more standalone following the success of Wonder Woman. While that means that the character isn’t as readily recognizable to filmgoing audiences, Marvel has certainly demonstrated in the last decade that it can maintain a superhero franchise with characters that audiences aren’t as familiar with, like Ant-Man or Iron Man. DC and Warner Bros. is undoubtably hoping that standalone films featuring these types of characters will bring the same success to its own, beleaguered series.
Shazam opens on April 19th, 2019.