Fans of the DC Extended Universe of movies have known for quite a while that a Shazam! film was in the works. The movie has been on and off of studio Warner Bros. production plate for the better part of three years, and for much of that time, the only concrete evidence it would actually be filmed was the casting of Dwayne Johnson in the role of Black Adam, the classic opposite and nemesis to Captain Marvel/Shazam in the source material.
However, plans for the DCEU kept on changing, first with the arrival of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and then a bit of a fast-track to Justice League. Meanwhile, other planned elements of the universe were either put on hold or changed completely. While a director was announced for Shazam (Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation helmer David F. Sandberg), it was later revealed that Johnson would no longer be in the film. At this point, the question remained which actor would be cast in the lead role of the thunderous superhero known as Captain Marvel, aka Shazam -- or if the movie would indeed happen at all
For months on end, the identity of the actor was subject to rumors, with everyone from Armie Hammer to John Cena's name thrown in the mix. The question was put to bed a few days ago when, to the surprise of pretty much everyone, Zachari Levi was officially announced as the man who would bring the hero to life. his is a name that hardly anyone would have considered, but once announce made you go, "Of course -- why didn't I think of that?"
Though he's been out of the spotlight for a few years, Levi is an actor with a genuine fan following. He made a name for himself starring in the 2007 NBC spy comedy Chuck, a series that, thanks to its devoted fan base, managed to survive several threats of cancellation until if finally wrapped after its fifth season. The series' popularity was due in no small part to the performance of its leading man, who portrayed a character who wore his geek stripes on his sleeves, right next his heart -- a character who, as it turned out, was a lot like the actor who embodied him in a lot of ways.
Many times over, Levi has proven himself to be energetic, charismatic and charming, both on and off the screen. The role of Chuck Batowski was one that proved that the actor was able to portray a cheerful child-like wonder, a capability that should be present in his portrayal of Shazam, the fully grown, adult superhero alter-ego of a young Billy Batson. That sense of wonder, inherent to the character's element of being a child stuck in a man's body, is crucial to the role, and its one Levi and his never-ending source of joy and amazement is perfect for.
Plus, as a certified geek, Levi is no stranger to the world of pop-culture. The actor is the host of NerdHQ, a website home to everything nerdy, from Star Wars to Trek and everything in-between. He is no stranger to the superhero world either, having been featured as Norse god Fandral in Thor: The Dark World and Ragnarok, as well as a vengeful parent in NBC Heroes revival series Heroes: Reborn.
"I am beside myself with gratitude," the actor wrote on Instagram after the announcement was made, "not only for this opportunity, but also the incredible outpouring of love." Levi knows what he's getting into, and he knows the magnitude such a role represents. He is an actor who has this quality of being a man of the people, the guy next door who can be both a great drinking buddy or a heartthrob.
With his 6'3" frame, the actor has the makings of a DC superhero, and he's already working to bulk up for the role. It's already been reported that Levi has been spending as many as four hours a day in the gym to prep for the role. "I'll be in the gym for the rest of forever," he joked on Instagram, illustrating how much he knows what is expected of him, and that he's ready to put in the work to make the fans happy.
Dwayne Johnson may not figure into the Shazam! movie any longer, but with DC currently expanding its movie universe, that doesn't mean Zack and The Rock will never square off. Chances are that, if Shazam! turns out to be a hit, the character will turn up not only in sequels of his own, but other DCEU movies, like a sequel to Justice League or other solo follow-up films like the planned Man of Steel 2 or Flashpoint. A showdown with Black Adam is almost inevitable, and the audience will be the winner, one day witnessing a battle of the charms as the two actors trade wits and blows.
The bottom line is, there's little doubt that Zachary Levi is the right choice to bring Captain Marvel to the big screen. He is charming, he's funny, and he's a nerd at heart. Chris Pratt better watch out, because there's a new threat to his crown of affably charming goofball in the body of a superhero.