San Diego Comic-Con brought us perhaps the best assortment of trailers in recent memory. Warner Bros. has restored fans’ faith in their DC superhero movies with a gorgeous Aquaman trailer, and an incredibly fun look at Shazam, starring Zachary Levi and from director David Sandberg.
In case you haven’t seen it yet, check it out…
This is remarkably faithful to the spirit of the character, and is based heavily on one interpretation in particular (right down to the Philadelphia setting…sorry Fawcett City fans).
So let’s get right down to it, and start looking for every DCEU reference and easter egg in the Shazam trailer!
We open on Asher Angel as Billy Batson. Like his comic book counterpart, big screen Billy is fond of wearing a red top, although the old ringer sweater of the comics has been replaced by a beat up hoodie.
Billy has always been portrayed as an orphan, from the earliest days of the comics. But it wasn’t until Geoff Johns and Gary Frank took on the Shazam mythos that they showed him dealing with life being shuffled from foster home to foster home. This sequence with him and a social worker mirrors one from that story.
Jack Dylan Grazer is playing Freddy Freeman, Billy’s best friend. Again, this draws more from the recent Johns/Frank interpretation of the comics than anything else. In the past, while Freddy was also an orphan, he and Billy didn’t get to know each other until well into Billy’s superheroic career.
Freddy, of course, has a heroic future of his own. At least in the comics.
Here’s the rest of the family. Right there in the middle is Grace Fulton as Mary. Comic fans know why this is a big deal.
Kind of obscured here are Ian Chen as Eugene and Jovan Armand as Pedro. These are also characters who made their debut in the Johns/Frank comics.
It would appear that Freddy is a bit of a superhero enthusiast, which makes me wonder…is this actually a nerdy pursuit in the world of the DCEU? Or is it just the equivalent of liking sports in “our” world?
Can anyone make out the title and author of that book? I am too tired.
Instead of a comic book collection, Freddy collects superhero newspaper clippings, and he appears to be a big Superman fan (note his love of “flight” later in the trailer.
What’s neat about these clippings is that they seem to trace Superman’s arc from Man of Steel through Justice League.
Billy has no time for bullies, which is one of the reasons he’s considered pure enough of heart to…
…be taken on a magical subway ride.
Those symbols? Those are no accident, and a great classic comics reference.
In the very first Shazam story, in 1939’s Whiz Comics #2, Billy was whisked away in a mysterious subway car with magical rune markings on it. The “next stop” sign being similar to these is a really nice touch.
The ancient wizard, in his throne room on the Rock of Eternity. This is also a pretty faithful, but modernized version of the 1939 origin story.
Here, the wizard is a black man (played by Djimon Hounsou), another touch adapted from the Johns/Frank comics.
Generally speaking, the wizard is a superheroic champion of ancient times, and here he is passing his powers on to Billy Batson. Oh, and the name “Shazam?” Saying it grants Billy the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury.
Zachary Levi perfectly nails that moment of a kid realizing that he’s in an adult body…especially a jacked one.
See the hood and the glowing lightning bolt? These are touches from the (you guessed it) Geoff Johns and Gary Frank comics.
…the idea that he kind of radiates magical/electrical energy.
The fact that Freddy is wearing blue here and that he seems to have some connection to the magic of Shazam should come as no surprise to anyone who knows the comics. (Have I beaten this tease to death/into the ground yet?)
You know what I love about this dopey flight test scene? How practical it looks. It looks to me like they’re hoisting Levi (or a stuntman) up on wires (which are not visible), and that just feels like such a relief after every flying hero being turned into a CGI missile or whatever it is they do.
It also kind of reminds me of the flying sequences from the old Shazam movie serial, The Adventures of Captain Marvel, which were brilliant for 1941, and were accomplished with a dummy on a zipline. That serial is one of the best of its kind, and I really need to get around to writing about it in depth on here.
No, Mark Strong is not playing Lex Luthor. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, our magically powered villain of the movie, and historically, Shazam’s greatest enemy from the comics.
In the old comics, Sivana was just a mad scientist. Giving him magical powers so he can go toe to toe with our hero is (go on, guess) something from the Geoff Johns and Gary Frank comic.
See that weird, dentist-ass looking shirt he’s wearing as his bottom layer there? That might be kind of a nod to his original comic book appearance…
…so is the Christmas setting of the movie, too. This is just a really cool shot.
Billy and Freddy scarfing on junk food because, well, because they can, is right out of the comics, too. It really looks like they nailed the tone of this movie.
Shazam opens on April 5, 2019.
Read the Den of Geek SDCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine Here!