It may have taken Warner Bros. longer than their main competitor to get a shared superhero universe off the ground, but we now know that Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is only the beginning. The rest of the world famous Justice League cast will join them soon after, and now after some hints to the contrary, it seems that fans can look forward to seeing Shazam join the same universe as well.
While that’s exactly what fans expected (why build a shared universe and leave one hero out of it?) there were reports that the movie would stand somewhat apart from the rest of WB’s plans. But when the studio released its entire DC movie lineup, ‘Earth’s Mightiest Mortal’ was placed among them. Now, DC is further confirming that the magical powerhouse will exist alongside Superman himself.
In a DC Comics blog post reflecting on 2014’s biggest moments, the publisher explained that a lack of big screen bombshells (aside from the informal confirmation of Shazam coming from New Line) was forgiven when nearly a dozen films were announced without warning:
For fans who were hoping to see a DC Cinematic Universe similar to what they’ve seen from other publishers, one that included super heroes other than Superman or Batman, there didn’t seem to be a lot to talk about.
That changed on October 15, 2014, when Warner Bros. revealed a full slate of ten DC Entertainment feature films all set within the same universe.
Those who’ve been following DC’s movie lineup know those ten films already (Batman V Superman, Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman, Justice League Part 1, The Flash, Aquaman, Shazam, Justice League Part 2, Cyborg, and Green Lantern). But the more important revelation of DC’s summary is a confirmation that despite the initial confusion, Shazam WILL exist in the same fictional universe as the Justice League heroes.
That’s obviously good news for Shazam fans, clarifying but not overruling comments made by New Line president Toby Emmerich, who said that Shazam would “have a tone unto itself.” As one of the few DC superhero movies in development prior to Man of Steel, the direction and tone planned for Shazam has been openly discussed already – as well as the reasons Man of Steel put its development on hold. In short: the similarities between Shazam and Superman make the latter seem somewhat redundant.
Of course, it was also said at the time that the humor of the story (a boy is suddenly given the body and powers of Superman) was the biggest selling point. And given the ‘serious’ tone DC films are seen to favor, a superhero comedy may be much needed by 2019. The challenge for executives, then, is how to minimize comparisons between the two god-like strong men – while allowing Shazam to embrace a lighter side than the scarred heroes of Zack Snyder’s Justice League.
The most obvious answer? Give them some space.
We’ve already explained why the story of a young boy magically turning into a superhero has the makings of a standalone success, but the differences in tone should illustrate why WB – and New Line specifically – see a benefit in allowing Billy Batson (the boy beneath the muscle of Shazam) to be introduced on his own. If nothing else, the magical forces that grant Batson his powers are best kept separate from the Justice League story for the time being. Perhaps to be grafted on down the road, but it’s not quite the physical threat that the League is built to counter.
In fact, we’ve speculated from the start that Warner Bros. could use the magical aspects of Shazam‘s story as a link between the classic heroes Snyder is set to introduce, and the supernatural/occult properties like Justice League Dark. So it’s no surprise to hear that both Shazam and JLD – while not expected to feature Supes, Bats, or any other League member – will take place in the same shared universe launched by Dawn of Justice.
We’re also not implying that Guillermo Del Toro’s recently-completed script for the supernatural ensemble is in any way connected to Shazam. But DC and WB are crafting a movie universe that looks to be the same as their comic book one: that means it’s safe to assume all characters and conflicts exist simultaneously, until the studio says differently.
With the potential for crossover narratives or cameos present (once the non-League heroes have been established on their own), the studio will likely leave all possibilities open, as opposed to closing them off prematurely. That’s probably to be expected from any and all DC/Vertigo Comics adaptations.
Are you relieved to hear that WB is keeping its options open for the future, or would you prefer a more comedic film like Shazam to stand apart from the angst-ridden stars of its Justice League shared universe? Share your thoughts and concerns in the comments.
Shazam will be released in theaters on April 5th, 2019.
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce for Shazam updates as well as movie, TV and gaming news.