Pre-production on Warner Bros.' Shazam is underway, and so is the search for the titular superhero and his alter-ego Billy Batson. ThatHashtagShow reports the studio is zeroing in on an actor for Shazam himself and has also drafted a description for both Billy's character and the overall film.
According to the report, Warner Bros. is eyeing WWE superstar John Cena and Galavant alum Joshua Sasse as frontrunners for the role of Shazam. As the report points out, Sasse isn't as well known Cena, though he has appeared in television shows like No Tomorrow, Rogue and The Neighbors. Nevertheless, this would give Sasse the opportunity to truly define the role as a relative newcomer. On the other hand, Cena -- who recently appeared in a comedic role for Amy Schumer's Trainwreck and will star in the Transformers spinoff Bumblebee -- brings with him an established fanbase that could become a potential audience for Shazam.
Additionally, the report includes a character description for Billy Batson, who seems to remain true to his comic book roots:
Male, 12-15 years old. A teenager who becomes Captain Marvel, the world's mightiest mortal. Granted access to incredible powers by the wizard Shazam, he speaks the wizard's name and is struck by a lightning bolt that gives him the powers of the gods.
Similarly, the working description for the film -- which, according to the report, could change in the coming weeks -- stays in keeping with the tone of the comic book series:
Based on the DC Comics character "Shazam!" Billy Batson becomes Captain Marvel, the world's mightiest mortal, when he says the magic word "Shazam! The name is an acronym for six gods and heroes of the ancient world as well as their attributes. The wisdom of Solomon, strength of Hercules, stamina of Atlas, power of Zeus, courage of Achilles and speed of Mercury.
In development at New Line as far back as the early 2000s, Shazam! passed through the hands of a half-dozen or more screenwriters over the years. The adaptation seemingly gained steam around 2009, only to quickly falter due to what one-time director Peter Segal attributed to the resurgence of Superman on the big screen. However, just when it looked as if Shazam! was dead, the film appeared in 2014 on Warner Bros.’ initial slate of DC Comics films.
Dwayne Johnson was long attached to Shazam!, ultimately settling in 2014 on the role of the hero’s longtime foe Black Adam. However, it was announced in January that Johnson won’t appear in Shazam! but will instead star in a separate Black Adam movie.
No casting has been announced for Shazam!, which is directed by David F. Sandberg and targeting a 2019 release.