DC has been trying to make a Shazam! movie for quite a while, but only recently did it look like the movie had any forward momentum, thanks largely to The Rock’s enthusiasm for playing the villain, Black Adam. And now, finally, it appears to be on the way, skipping to the front of the line past several other DC properties.
For those unfamiliar, Shazam! (formerly Captain Marvel) was really the first superhero to capture the pop culture imagination back in the ’30s. Billy Batson, a young orphan, stumbles over an ancient wizard and the Rock of Eternity. When he says “SHAZAM!”, he’s turned into a Superman-esque hero. The comics got fairly surreal fairly quickly, with an entire Marvel family, a talking tiger, and other unusual bits.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, this will be through Warner Bros. subsidiary New Line, a curious choice that might mean that Shazam!, as a movie, is somewhat separate from the DCEU, which is generally produced through Warner Bros. directly. It’ll also be directed by David Sandberg, a filmmaker mostly known for his horror movies like Lights Out and the upcoming Annabelle: Creation, who is getting a substantial bump up here. Just how, and whether, Dwayne Johnson will be involved appears to be an open question at the moment; he might be confined to making an after-credits cameo.
As to why, precisely, this movie is coming now, part of it is scheduling: Joss Whedon is still working on Justice League, The Flash and the Suicide Squad sequel still need directors, and Wonder Woman 2 hasn’t even been written yet. The success of the Amazon also might have something to do with it: Shazam! is, bar the occasional attempt by DC to “reinvent” him, a cheerful hero, a kid at heart with superpowers. Considering the hopeful message and approach of Wonder Woman, one expects Shazam! will have something of the same tone. We’ll find out relatively shortly: The movie is on the schedule for 2019.