If it wasn’t for Birds of Prey disappointing at the box office earlier this year, then Shazam! would comfortably be the lowest-grossing entry in the DCEU after bringing in a solid if unspectacular $365 million, which is almost $300 million behind Justice League‘s previous franchise low. Audiences might not have been overly invested, but critics certainly were, and the movie is currently the second most acclaimed installment in the shared universe behind only Wonder Woman, with impressive Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic scores of 90% and 71, respectively.
You certainly wouldn’t have thought director David F. Sandberg’s previous experience had been almost exclusively in the horror genre based on the light touch and overwhelming sense of fun that he brought to Shazam!, while Zachary Levi delivered a star-making central performance that will surely lead to much bigger things in his career.
With sequel Fury of the Gods set for November 2022 and his arch-nemesis on the way in the imposing form of Dwayne Johnson, Shazam! is set to become an integral part of the rejuvenated DCEU. However, Levi admitted in a recent interview that once he heard Black Adam was finally set to escape from over a decade stuck in development hell, he thought he might lose out on the role entirely.
“Per the comic books, Black Adam and Captain Marvel, my true namesake, they’re yin and yang to one another. They are identical. It’s actually why I didn’t think I even had a chance of getting this job. He was already cast as Black Adam, I knew enough to know that Captain Marvel/Shazam and Black Adam were basically doppelgängers, just with a slightly different color scheme and haircut. I was like, ‘No one’s gonna hire me to be The Rock’s twin. I don’t think this is going to work out’.”
In Levi’s defense, there are not many actors out there who could pass as Dwayne Johnson’s doppelgänger from a physical standpoint, and even though the 39 year-old has been hitting the gym hard to prepare for his return as Shazam!, he’ll no doubt still need to slip back into the muscle suit given that Johnson is set to show up in Black Adam looking like he could eat Henry Cavill’s Superman for breakfast. Which is a terrifying prospect for any superhero that ends up sharing the screen with him.