While Shazam! features the most light-hearted, family-friendly tone seen in the DC Extended Universe to date, actor Mark Strong did not lighten his performance as the film's villain, Doctor Thaddeus Sivana, accordingly.
Early in the production of the upcoming DCEU film, Strong approached director David F. Sandberg and producer Peter Safran with his desire to make Sivana as terrifying a villain as possible.
"I don't think it could ever be too dark. There's some great comedy to be had with that idea that a 14-year-old boy in a grown-up man's body doesn't really understand or [isn't] able to cope with his powers," explained Strong in an interview with Syfy. "I had this discussion with David [F. Sandberg] and Peter [Safran], the producer, very early on and said, 'I think Sivana should be like heat-seeking ballistic evil.'"
Based on the first trailer and TV spots for the film, the DCEU's incarnation of Sivana appears to be super-powered, able to fly and trade blows with the eponymous superhero leading to speculation that the villain similarly receives his powers from the ancient wizard within the Rock of Eternity.
"The more frightening you make him, the more you feel that the kids are in jeopardy, and therefore the more that morality term of balance of good and evil plays out satisfactory," continued Strong. "If he ever steps back and takes his foot off the gas of being dark, it doesn't serve the purpose of the story, which is he needs to be a terrifying nemesis."
Arriving on April 5, 2019, director David F. Sandberg’s Shazam! stars Asher Angel as Billy Batson, Zachary Levi as Shazam, Mark Strong as Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, Djimon Hounsou as the ancient wizard Shazam, Grace Fulton as Mary Bromfield, Jack Dylan Grazer as Frederick “Freddy” Freeman, Ian Chen as Eugene Choi, Jovan Armand as Pedro Peña, Faithe Herman as Darla Dudley, Cooper Andrews as Victor Vásquez and Marta Milans as Rosa Vásquez.