Shazam! is a 2019 American superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name. It is intended to be the seventh installment in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). The film is directed by David F. Sandberg from a screenplay by Henry Gayden, and a story by Gayden and Darren Lemke. The film stars Asher Angel as Billy Batson, a teenage boy who can transform via the magic word "Shazam" into an adult superhero, played by Zachary Levi. Shazam! also features Mark Strong, Jack Dylan Grazer, Grace Fulton, Ian Chen, Jovan Armand, Faithe Herman, and Djimon Hounsou as supporting characters. It will be the first film version of the character since the 1941 serial Adventures of Captain Marvel (the character's original name) and will be the first full-length feature film centered around the character.
Development of a live-action Shazam! film began in the early 2000s, but languished in development hell for many years. The film went into pre-production in 2008 with director Peter Segal and writer John August, and Dwayne Johnson considered to star as the villain Black Adam, but the project fell through. William Goldman, Alec Sokolow, Joel Cohen, Bill Birch, and Geoff Johns, among others, were all attached to the project as writers at various points. Warner Bros. then officially announced the film in 2014, with Johnson attached to star as either Shazam or Black Adam. He would be later be cast in January 2017 to lead a solo Black Adam development project. Sandberg signed on to direct Shazam! in February 2017 and Levi was cast that October. Principal photography began in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in January 2018, with most of the film shot at Pinewood Toronto Studios, and wrapped in May 2018.
Shazam! is scheduled to be released by New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. Pictures in 2D, RealD 3D and IMAX 3D on April 5, 2019.
In 1974 Upstate New York, young Thaddeus Sivana is magically transported to the Rock of Eternity, a magical temple hidden in another dimension. He meets the ancient wizard Shazam, the last of the Council of Seven Wizards. Shazam explains that he has spent centuries searching for a new champion who is "pure of heart" after the previous champion went rogue and released the Seven Deadly Sins upon the world. The Sins, now trapped in statues, tempt Thaddeus, and for succumbing to them so easily he is banished back to Earth as unworthy to be the champion.
In the present, Philadelphia foster kid Billy Batson runs afoul of the law while searching for his birth mother. Billy is placed in a new group home run by Victor and Rosa Vazquez, who have five other foster kids: Mary Bromfield, Pedro Peña, Eugene Choi, Darla Dudley and Freddy Freeman, his new roommate who is a superhero enthusiast. Meanwhile, a now-adult Sivana discovers a way of re-entering the Rock of Eternity. Upon arrival, Sivana steals the Eye of Sins, becoming the Sins' vessel.
While in school, Billy saves Freddy from bullies and leads them on a chase into a subway, where he is summoned by Shazam and chosen as the next champion. By touching the staff and saying Shazam's name, Billy is transformed into an adult costumed superhero who takes on the wizard's name before the wizard turns to dust, leaving behind his staff. Shazam and Freddy explore the extent of his newfound powers, including electricity manipulation, super strength, and flight. Freddy posts videos of Shazam testing his powers, making him a viral sensation, and Billy begins skipping school to use his powers for money and fame. After seeing Shazam save a bus on the news, Sivana attacks him, demanding his powers. Shazam is easily defeated but transforms back into Billy to escape into the fleeing crowd. Sivana sees news coverage of Freddy speaking with Shazam and captures Freddy.
At the Vazquez home, the other children discover Billy's secret and tell Billy they found his mother, who lives nearby. Billy goes to meet his mother but learns that she intentionally abandoned him, believing she was unable to care for him as a teenage single mother. Sivana takes Billy's foster siblings hostage, and Shazam agrees to give Sivana his powers in exchange for sparing his family's lives. Sivana and Shazam travel to the Rock of Eternity, but the other kids follow and attack Sivana, giving them time to escape. Shazam realizes that when the Sins leave Sivana's body, he loses his powers.
Sivana chases Shazam and the kids to a winter carnival, where Sivana unleashes the Sins. While Wrath battles Shazam, the other Sins capture his family, demanding he give up his power. As Sivana recalls the Sins, Shazam uses that moment to take the staff and stun Sivana. Shazam remembers the wizard's words and shares his powers with his foster siblings, transforming them into adult superheroes with powers equal to his own. Shazam breaks the staff and battles Sivana while his siblings fight the Sins. Shazam baits out Envy, who had remained housed in Sivana's body, leaving Sivana powerless. He removes the Eye of Sin from Sivana, which seals away the Sins. Shazam and his family are hailed as public heroes, and Billy embraces his foster family as his true family. Later, Billy shows up at school as Shazam to have lunch with his foster siblings, revealing he invited Superman.
- Asher Angel and Zachary Levi as Billy Batson / Shazam: A boy who was given his powers by an ancient wizard and transforms into an adult with the powers of superhuman strength, speed, flight, and other abilities by speaking the word "Shazam".
- Mark Strong as Dr. Thaddeus Sivana: One of the smartest men alive, but one given to squandering his gifts on ridiculous inventions that no one could understand. Sivana himself had been summoned by the Wizard Shazam as a child, but was not chosen as his champion, leading Sivana to spend his life trying to unlock the secrets of magic through science.
- Jack Dylan Grazer and Adam Brody as Frederick "Freddy" Freeman: Billy's foster brother and best friend, a disabled superhero enthusiast who is the only person that knows that he is Shazam!.
- Djimon Hounsou as The Wizard Shazam: An ancient wizard who bestows his powers on Billy Batson so that he can magically transform into an adult superhero, who takes on the wizard's name in his adult form.
- Grace Fulton and Michelle Borth as Mary Bromfield: One of Billy's foster siblings at his new home.
- Ian Chen and Ross Butler as Eugene Choi: One of Billy's foster siblings at his new home.
- Jovan Armand and D.J. Cotrona as Pedro Peña: One of Billy's foster siblings at his new home.
- Faithe Herman and Meagen Good as Darla Dudley: One of Billy's foster siblings at his new home.
- Cooper Andrews as Victor Vázquez: The foster father of the group home where Billy and his friends live.
- Marta Milans as Rosa Vázquez: The foster mother of the group home where Billy and his friends live.
- Lotta Losten and Ross Butler have been cast in undisclosed roles.
New Line Cinema began development of a Shazam! live-action feature film in the early 2000s, with multiple screenplay drafts by William Goldman, the team of Alec Sokolow and Joel Cohen, Bryan Goluboff, and John August. The version of the Shazam! script written by August, which went into pre-production in 2008, was an action-comedy which focused on the origin story of the hero, then known by his original name of Captain Marvel, and his young alter ego, Billy Batson. Peter Segal was attached as director and actor Dwayne Johnson was in talks to appear as the film's villain, Black Adam. The Shazam! film was originally being produced by New Line Cinema, which was absorbed into Warner Bros. during the course of development.
Following the success of Warner's noir-inspired Batman film The Dark Knight and the commercial failure of its lighter, family-friendly Speed Racer during the summer of 2008, August departed from the project citing pressure from the studio to make the screenplay darker and more serious. By the summer of 2009, Bill Birch and Geoff Johns, a prominent DC Comics writer, were assigned to write the screenplay, while Segal remained attached as director. In August 2010, the studio considered canceling the theatrical movie in favor of a live-action series for prime time network television. In December 2013, Segal stated that the film would not be happening, as the similarities between Captain Marvel and Superman had become an obstacle after successful launch of Man of Steel.
While development on the Shazam! film was in limbo, DC Comics rebooted the franchise as part of their New 52 relaunch in 2012. At this time, due to ongoing trademark conflicts with Marvel Comics, who owned the trademark for "Captain Marvel" for use with their own character of the same name, DC renamed their Captain Marvel superhero character "Shazam". It had always been required to market and promote the character using the trademark Shazam! since acquiring the publishing rights from Fawcett Comics in 1972. Captain Marvel had originated at Fawcett in 1939, but fell into limbo after 1953 following a long legal battle with DC over Captain Marvel's similarities to Superman.
In April 2014, Warner Bros. revealed the upcoming slate of films based on DC Comics properties. A Justice League film was set to be released in 2017, alongside upcoming adaptations of Shazam!, Fables, and 100 Bullets. The Shazam! film was tentatively set for release in July 2016. Dwayne Johnson confirmed he would be starring in Shazam! that August, but was undecided between portraying Shazam or Black Adam. In September, Johnson was confirmed to play Black Adam, while Darren Lemke was set to write the script In January 2017, Henry Gayden was hired to rewrite Lemke's script. In February 2017, David F. Sandberg was in talks with the studio to direct Shazam!, Dwayne Johnson was set to first star in a Black Adam solo film, as opposed to appearing as the villain in Shazam!, while Doctor Sivana, another archnemesis of Shazam, became the film's main villain.
By July 2017, the studio had begun active development on Shazam! and Sandberg was confirmed as director, with production to begin in early 2018. Dwayne Johnson relayed that a different creative team was now involved than when he first signed on to the film, and stated his excitement over the studio's decision to split the film into two separate movies. After being cast as the lead, Zachary Levi stated in an interview, "the idea is that it's gonna feel like the movie Big, but with super powers" when he was asked about what direction DC Films and New Line Cinema are going for with Shazam! The film was later stated by Warner Bros. to be based upon based on the 2012-2013 Shazam! backup feature from the Justice League comic book by writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank, which told a modernized version of Shazam's origin.
In August 2017, director David F. Sandberg stated that the film would be the next to shoot in the DC universe, and by the end of the month, it had begun pre-production. By October 2017, cinematographer Maxime Alexandre and production designer Jennifer Spence, who previously worked with Sandberg on Annabelle: Creation, were added to the production. The next month, Aquaman stunt coordinator Kyle Gardiner was hired to work on the film's action sequences. On January 12, 2018, the film release date was officially announced.
By September 2014, Dwayne Johnson was set to portray Black Adam in the film, but by July 2017 he had left the project to pursue a Black Adam solo film. In August 2017, the casting process for Shazam and other characters for film had begun. Sandberg had stated in an interview that instead of de-aging an actor using special effects or CGI, he would cast both a child actor and an adult actor for the role of the main character. Zachary Levi, John Cena, Zane Holtz, Jake McDorman, Derek Theler and Billy Magnussen had all met with Sandberg for the role of Shazam. By October 2017, Levi was cast in the titular role. In November, Grace Fulton joined the cast as Mary Bromfield, one of Billy Batson's foster siblings. Fulton is reteaming with the director after Annabelle: Creation. Later that month, Mark Strong was in final negotiations to play Dr. Sivana. The British actor confirmed he will be playing the role by January 2018. By November 2017, Asher Angel was cast as the titular hero's child-age alter ego Billy Batson. In December, Jack Dylan Grazer was cast as Freddy Freeman, Batson's best friend. Later that month, Jovan Armand, Ian Chen, Faithe Herman, and Cooper Andrews were cast as Pedro Peña, Eugene Choi, and Darla Dudley, while Andrews will portray Victor Vazquez, Batson's foster parent. By January 2018, Ron Cephas Jones entered talks to play the role of the wizard Shazam, who grants Batson his powers. Later that month, Spanish actress Marta Milans joined the cast to play one of the foster parents at the home where Billy lives. By the end of January 2018, actress Lotta Losten revealed that she has a role in the film. On April 23, 2018, Ross Butler was announced to have joined the cast. In July, it was announced that Djimon Hounsou had replaced Jones as the wizard Shazam during filming, due to Jones having scheduling conflicts.
Shazam! principal photography began in Toronto and Hamilton, in Ontario, Canada on January 29, 2018, under the working title Franklin, and was scheduled to wrap by mid-May 2018. The film is set primarily in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and firmly established within the DCEU. A majority of the production was shot at Pinewood Toronto Studios and also held on several public locations around the city, including the University of Toronto and Woodbine Shopping Centre.In early March 2018, filming took place at Fort York National Historic Site in downtown Toronto. By early May 2018, Asher Angel, among other young cast members, finished filming his part. Principal photography wrapped on May 11, 2018.
David F. Sandberg's two-time collaborator Michel Aller will serve as the editor for Shazam!. Technicolor's VFX studio Mr. X, known for The Shape of Water and Tron: Legacy, will be providing visual effects. Moving Picture Company (MPC) will also be working on the VFX for the film.
On July 21, 2018, Benjamin Wallfisch was announced as the composer for Shazam!.
In April 2018, a first look at Shazam! made its debut at CinemaCon convention in Las Vegas, Nevada with director David F. Sandberg introducing the behind-the-scene footage. During an interview with Film Riot Podcast in June 2018, Sandberg stated that "On this one, it was just like 'Yeah, I want this to be a classic superhero movie.' It takes place in the winter, so it's a lot of dark exteriors, but with a lot of colorful lights and stuff around them
An official first look at Shazam in costume, along with Freddy Freeman, was revealed by Entertainment Weekly on July 11, 2018. On July 21, 2018, the first teaser trailer was shown at San Diego Comic-Con, with Sandberg, Zachry Levi, Asher Angel, and Jack Dylan Grazer in attendance. The trailer was later released online.
Shazam! is scheduled to be released by Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema in 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D on April 5, 2019.