Shazam! Fury of the Gods Brings Back the “Shazamily”: Inside DC’s New Superhero Adventure

In Sandberg’s words, it was nothing less than “a dream come true” to work with the trio who brought the goddesses to life. They’re not the only mythical beings in the sequel either, as the director teases that the film will feature many fantastical creatures, including Minotaurs, Harpies, and a Ray Harryhausen-inspired Cyclops. That juxtaposition of the magical and the mundanity of real-world Philadelphia was key to the tone but never posed a challenge to Sandberg. “It wasn’t really like, ‘Oh, it has to be like it’s part of our world.’ They just had to feel cool.”

They also had to feel scary. Sandberg cut his teeth on horror flicks like Annabelle: Creation and Lights Out before entering the DC pantheon. He used that experience to bring a very specific and effective blend of fear and fun to the first film, and he promises that the sequel will continue that thread. “When I was a kid, I loved seeing things that had that edge to them or had a little bit of danger. I love Raiders of the Lost Ark, faces melting off…I love that stuff. So to me, when you bring that little bit of scariness and edge to it, it makes the danger feel more real.”

Those unexpected tonal shifts are a large part of what made the first Shazam! movie feel so special. Combining the heart of a family film with the epic scope of superheroes and the spookiness of classics like Gremlins and Dark Crystal, it immediately stood out among its DC peers. So does that give the crew more freedom to tell a different kind of story? “I think so,” Sandberg says, “to a certain degree. That’s what I love about Shazam, that wish fulfillment you can’t do with any other character.”

To the man who plays Shazam, that tonal difference reminds him of another famed costumed crusader. “I’ve always believed that we’re kind of like the Deadpool of DC,” Levi says. “Not in the same tone exactly. But we are afforded an irreverence, a naivete, this kind of on-the-outside-looking-in perspective where we can almost have a commentary on our world that other movies in our universe don’t really have. They’re more earnest, they’re more serious, they’re darker, and we are not that. So we get to be a little sillier sometimes. I think that leads to a lot of really fun options and possibilities when you’re doing more stories.”

In Fury of the Gods, though, Billy has to make some tough decisions. While Sandberg “wouldn’t say he goes dark,” the director does tease that “he has to make some real sacrifices to protect not just his family but the world.” That more serious conflict allowed him to present a new side of Billy as he embarked on the second movie. “I wanted to have at least some moments where he comes off as kind of badass, especially towards the end.”

What’s next for Shazam? Well, after the arrival of Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam in 2022, many are wondering if Shazam will ever face down (or team up with) his most famous foe, Levi among them. “That’s all way above my pay grade,” he laughs. “I was trying to get the same answer.” Acknowledging that The Rock is a very busy man, Levi is full of kind words about the previous Warner Bros. leadership under Walter Hamada, as well as being incredibly excited for what’s to come. “As fate would have it, we have two new excellent leaders in James Gunn and Peter Safran. They’re both friends of mine who I trust very deeply, and I know that they are concocting really cool plans. I don’t know what they are, but I will trust wherever they want to take us.”

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