Zachary Levi straddled the past and future of DC at the Shazam! Fury of the Gods premiere, a splashy affair that made good on the premise of Big meets supeheroes with a party that featured arcade games and a carnival-like atmosphere.
Levi, taking the stage at the Regency Village Theatre in Westwood, thanked leadership at Warner Bros., New Line and DC, which has faced executive shakeups since the days of Levi’s first film. Among those Levi thanked were new DC Studios co-head Peter Safran (a producer on Fury of the Gods) and former DC boss Walter Hamada, who exited his post as DC Films chief last year and who was instrumental in both Shazam! features. The executive, now overseeing a horror line at Paramount, was in attendance at the event.
Levi asked anyone who worked on the film to stand up before sharing a heartfelt message.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart that like Billy, you saw in me, this guy. Because I didn’t, originally. I did not believe I could be this guy,” said Levi, who when he was cast more than five years ago, had to bulk up for the role of the adult version of Billy Batson, a kid who transforms into a superhero. Asher Angel plays Billy, while Djimon Hounsou is the wizard who granted him his powers.
Added the actor: “The same way that Djimon Hounsou looks at Asher [Angel] in the eyes and says ‘You are worthy,’ you look at me and said I was worthy. So thank you from the bottom of my personal heart.”
This year, Fury of the Gods will be followed by DC’s The Flash, Blue Beetle and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. While DC co-bosses James Gunn and Safran have maintained that there is nothing precluding any of those four films from carrying forward into the new universe, the duo have already closed the door on Henry Cavill’s Superman and ceased development on Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman 3. In other words, nothing is guaranteed, and it is unclear if Levi will continue in the role.
“My responsibility is just to show up and be the best Shazam that I can be, and I take that very seriously,” Levi told on the red carpet. “I’ve known Peter for years, and James even longer, and I think they’re going to be really great leaders. I think James is a very talented visionary person and so I’m looking forward to whatever that holds.”
“I’m very happy with this movie,” he continued. “I hope it’s not my last.”
According to co-writer Henry Gayden, Shazam!‘s future depends on how well the sequel performs at the box office.
“We both think the plans are dope,” Gayden said, in regard to his and co-writer Chris Morgan’s thoughts on the studio’s upcoming slate, which as of yet does not have Shazam! on it, at least not the plans shared with the public. “As far as Shazam moving forward, they’ve said that, if this movie does well, then we can continue in their universe. So it’s really kind of contingent on this weekend, and the next weekend and the weekend after that.”
Fury of the Gods hails from filmmaker David F. Sandberg, who missed the festivities in Westwood after testing positive for the coronavirus. It also stars Jack Dylan Grazer and franchise newcomers Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu and Rachel Zegler, who play the formidable daughters of Atlas — Hespera, Kalypso and Anthea.
“We all felt like goddesses,” said Liu about stepping into her costume on-set for the first time. “We felt so strong and powerful. And [costume designer Louise Mingenbach] — just every detail was accounted for. You really see that on screen.”
Mirren credits her love for the first movie as the reason behind her involvement in this sequel. “Honestly, I’m not familiar with the superhero world,” the Oscar winner said. “But I did sort of almost accidentally see the first one, and I thought it was so charming. It completely took me by surprise. So when the second one was suggested, I immediately said yes. And then when they said you’ll be playing a goddess, I said, well, of course.”
As for West Side Story breakout star Zegler, the audition for Shazam arrived in her inbox at the perfect time. “I needed a job,” Zegler said about joining the film. “I’m being so serious. The reality was we were in the middle of a pandemic, and I was not working. I couldn’t get a job for the life of me because West Side Story hadn’t come out yet. It was really hard to book work for me, so I was really excited when this came in my inbox. I love the first movie, and the fact that they even wanted me to come in for a callback, and then I chem read and then everything in between. I’m so lucky that I got this job.”
—Tiffany Taylor contributed reporting.