Out of the entire lineup of DCEU movies, Shazam! was easily the most pleasant and welcome surprise. A lot of people were skeptical about the idea of established horror talent David F. Sandberg making the jump to a $100 million comic book blockbuster in what was just his third feature-length directorial effort, writer Henry Gayden’s only previous credit was for the painfully mediocre found footage sci-fi Earth to Echo, and leading man Zachary Levi was untried when it came to headlining a project of this scale and his muscle suit was more than a little unconvincing.
Shazam! may have been the lowest-grossing installment in Warner Bros.’ shared universe until Birds of Prey came along and flopped after it raked in a solid if unspectacular $366 million at the box office, but reviews were positively glowing. The movie lived up to its reputation as a superhero version of Big, with Levi delivering a star-making performance in a warm, light-hearted and action-packed adventure that abandoned the DCEU’s reliance on a grim and gritty aesthetic to deliver old-fashioned primary colored fun.
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A sequel was swiftly announced, and given an official subtitle at this summer’s DC FanDome virtual event, but Shazam! Fury of the Gods was almost instantly hit with a delay and won’t arrive in theaters until June 2023. In a recent interview, Mark Strong was asked if his villainous Dr. Thaddeus Sivana would be returning for the follow-up, and while he couldn’t give a definitive answer, it certainly sounds like he’d love the opportunity.
“I had such a great time on the first one and it turned out to be such a success. I’m just waiting to hear. I think the script is in development and they’re trying to get ready to do it. Obviously, it’s been interrupted by this situation, so things are on hold until such time as it can be filmed safely. At the moment, it’s all under wraps. I honestly know very little about it. It’s not that I don’t want to tell you anything about it. It’s just that I don’t actually know very much about it.”
Ironically, Strong’s bad guy was one of the weakest aspects of the first installment, which came as a surprise given the actor’s consistency when it comes to playing villains. Of course, the mid-credits scene already teased an unlikely alliance, but Shazam! Fury of the Gods will also have to deal with the presence of Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam lurking in the background.