After struggling through flop after painstaking flop in the movie business, it seemed that DC’s Cinematic Universe could never compete with its rivals at Marvel. But there was one tactic that it hadn’t tried: making origin stories fun.

DC’s upcoming film Shazam is being marketed as a family-friendly movie that the viewers aren’t expecting out of a typical DC film — and rightfully so, considering the star-turned-superhero of the movie is a 14-year-old named Billy Batson. Batson gets his powers by being chosen by an ancient wizard to possess all the power of Shazam, or the beings Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury. Considering the powerful stories associated with each of these beings, audience members may think that the overall feel of the movie will be serious, but the director wants the feel to be just the opposite.

Director David F. Sandberg really hit the nail on the head when casting Zachary Levi as Shazam. Audience members may know him from his lead role in the TV series Chuck, but he was also Fandral, one of The Warriors Three, in the Thor movies, which ultimately landed him the role of Shazam. 

Playing a sillier, more seductive character like Fandral helped Levi showcase who he was in real life, which was needed for the role. At first, Levi passed on the role because he heard that Dwayne Johnson had been cast as Black Adam, and he thought he didn’t have a chance. Upon a second inquiry from the director, he decided he would give it a shot, and the rest is history.

From the teaser trailers, the film seems similar to the light-heartedness displayed in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy movies with a little more kid-like nature. Even Levi has said, “I have to act so little. I just get to be me on so many levels.” The use of the overarching theme of family and constant jokes may be able to be pulled off at Marvel, but DC can be touch-and-go. However, Levi’s extraordinary acting abilities might just be a beacon of hope for the industry.

Like any superhero movie, it can’t just be all fun and games. The villain, Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, has a similar backstory to Billy Batson — except he was approached by a more evil power, called the Eye of Sin, when he was a child. Dr. Sivana is a good balance to the boisterous Shazam since he is being portrayed as a spiteful villain who wants to unify good and evil so he can be in control of all of it. Good, well-placed jokes and references along with a proper amount of CGI filled fight scenes with an intimidating supervillain makes for a rewarding superhero film.

Things are looking up at DC, but it took the force of previous Marvel celebrities to make the dream work. From former Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn, who is now directing Suicide Squad 2, to Zachary Levi, these people are attempting to turn the DC Cinematic Universe in a different direction one movie at a time. If the trend continues, maybe one day DC will have a better name for itself and will be talked about with as much praise as Marvel.

Charlotte Caldwell is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk to Charlotte? Email her at

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