Naysayers, it’s time to eat your words – Zach Levi really looks the part as the original Captain Marvel.
Throughout the development of the “Shazam!” movie, director David F Sandberg has been promising that the film will be lighthearted, enjoyable fun.
This makes sense considering the source material. The hero who is now known as Shazam for legal purposes (Marvel snatched up the rights to the character’s original name) is a ten-year-old boy who gains shapeshifting super powers, and naturally decides to become a Superman knock-off.
It’s not been easy to necessarily believe Sandberg in his claims that this will be a bright, optimistic movie.
For one thing, DC’s general movie oeuvre has lately seemed to be afraid of joy. With the exception of “Wonder Woman” and about half of “Justice League”, the DCEU has been a dour, grumpy experience that’s designed to appeal to moody teenagers more than enthusiastic children.
Our first look at Zachary Levi in the starring role for this movie goes some way to proving that David F Sandberg really is aiming for bright colorful adventure. Quite aside from anything else, Shazam’s costume looks like it’s come straight from a comic book.
This is a far cry from the awkwardly touched-up costumes from “Justice League”, which were clearly designed for a darker movie. The bright red spandex on display here is perfect for shiny, bright filming, which will no doubt help to sell the premise that this is a kid’s fantasy come to life.
The only question now is whether or not this will make for a good movie.
After all, David F Sandberg isn’t known for children’s movies. He’s a horror director, most recently having helmed “Annabelle: Creation”. Based on the DCEU’s track record, it’s worth assuming that Warner Bros might not have had a colorful kid’s film in mind when they hired Sandberg for “Shazam!”.
To make a good movie takes more than just a bright color scheme. What will make the difference here is whether Sandberg manages to create a character-based film that’s compelling and engaging. This has traditionally been the biggest thing that’s been lacking from previous DCEU movies.
There’s a question to be raised about how well this bright version of Shazam will fit with the rest of the characters in this shared movie universe – especially if we’re also getting a movie in which Dwayne Johnson will play Black Adam, essentially the evil version of Captain Marvel.
The tonal shift that’s on the way within the DCEU is probably going to be more than a little jarring. It’ll likely be hard to see much similarity between movies like “Man of Steel” and newer fare that’s now on the way.
If this shift means that future films will actually be enjoyable to watch, though, it might be worth the awkward transition period.
Unless, of course, you’re a fan of Zack Snyder’s grimdark aesthetic.