Though it was first announced several years ago, there’s been little to no progress on Shazam. For one, the titular hero hasn’t been cast yet, and though a director is now in place in the form of David F. Sandberg, it would seem that production is moving along at a snail’s pace. Or at least, it was, as we’re now hearing that things are about to fire up.
Not too long ago, we learned that the project is getting ready to shoot in early 2018, which is pretty surprising given that no casting has been revealed just yet. Indeed, at the time of writing, the titular role of William Joseph “Billy” Batson remains vacant, though if Dwayne Johnson has his way, Warner Bros. may select Armie Hammer for the gig. Johnson, who is currently attached to produce and star in a Black Adam movie, does hold a small degree of creative leverage in the DC Extended Universe, so it’ll be intriguing to find out if WB takes heed of the actor’s requests. However, it’s worth noting that his anti-hero has ostensibly been ruled out of Shazam.
While we wait for some casting news to surface, and we imagine it’ll arrive sooner rather than later, we’re starting to learn a bit more about the project thanks to Sandberg himself. While speaking to Collider in a recent interview, the director revealed that instead of simply using a de-aging process to have one person play both roles (Billy Batson and Shazam), he’ll be bringing in two different actors.
For those unfamiliar with the source material, it revolves around the inspiring story of Billy Batson, a homeless 12-year-old who’s granted the ability to harness the power of the gods – namely Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury…hence the name – and becomes Shazam. Confirming that it will indeed be a different actor who plays Billy than the one who ends up portraying the titular hero, Sandberg said:
“Yeah, I wouldn’t want to do that. That seems like way too much of a hassle. So I think it’s just kind of best to have a kid and an adult.”
Acknowledging the fact that de-aging is quite common in Hollywood these days, the director said that it can work, but there’s a limit to what you can do.
“Some of it’s done quite well, I mean Kurt Russell was in the latest Guardians was really well made I thought, but I think there’s a limit to it as well. You probably can’t do someone to be a kid. Why create that hassle for yourself?”
What Sandberg says here definitely makes sense. While it probably would be possible to just de-age the actor who plays Shazam for his scenes as Billy, it would be a lot of work and an unnecessary hassle. Not to mention it might end up looking awkward in the end because there’s such a big age gap between the two. As such, getting a different person for each role is without a doubt the right way to go.
We still don’t have any news on who the studio has their eye on to bring the hero to life, but we do know that Warner Bros. has earmarked Shazam to begin filming early next year ahead of a potential release in 2019. As such, we’d imagine that some casting news will start to trickle out soon – something Sandberg actually hinted at as well not too long ago.