Shazam 2 Breaking Ties With DC Comics
Shazam 2 will feature villains (The Daughters of Atlas) that do not appear in the DC comics, a first for a DC Extended Universe film.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods is going where no DC Extended Universe film has gone before: it is featuring a villain outside of DC Comics canon. According to the new issue of Empire Magazine (via The Direct), Shazam 2 director David F. Sandberg revealed that the three villains at the core of the sequel’s story, Hespera, Kalypso, and Anthea (the daughters of Atlas), will be original characters and not tied to any characters from the comics. It’s an interesting twist, but not totally surprising, as Shazam (Zachary Levi) has set a very different tone from other characters in the DCEU.
Shazam! set out to bring a lighter tone to the DCEU, and it largely succeeded, thanks in large part to Levi’s performance. Because the Shazam films are so vastly different from the darker tone set in the Snyderverse and Black Adam, establishing its own mythos, not bound to DC comics canon, could actually work in its favor. It also allows the story to lean into the character’s origins in Greek mythology.
Academy Award winner Helen Mirren (Fast X, 1923) plays Hespera, Lucy Liu (Kill Bill) plays Kalypso, and Rachel Zegler (Snow White) plays Anthea in Shazam 2, which opens in theaters on Friday, March 17, 2023. They are out to seek revenge on Shazam for taking the power of the Geek gods, and the story will mark the first time a DCEU film will use villains who were not featured in any DC comic book.
The Direct points out that past DC comics films (pre-DCEU) that tried to introduce original villains did fare too well, including Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (which featured the laughable Nuclear Man), 1997’s Steel (with Judd Nelson playing Nathaniel Burke) and 2004’s Catwoman (with Sharon Stone playing Laurel Hedare) were not exactly highlights in DC movie history.
Shazam 2 could hardly be looped in with those films, however, and its superb cast seems eager to make the film work. Sandberg even points out that an eager Helen Mirren wanted to do all of her own stunts – at the age of 77. “We had to tell her sometimes, ‘We need an actual stunt-person to do that,'” he said.
Exploring the Greek mythology angle is allowing for some creative freedom other DCEU films don’t have. Shazam 2 will feature a number of creatures that wouldn’t fit at all in other DC movies, including a dragon, a minotaur, and a manticore, stretching the DC universe in all the right ways. Of course, it won’t forget its roots, as rumors have persisted that Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman will cameo in the film.
DC Studios, led by new CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran, is finally looking to get the comic publisher’s movie franchise on a track similar to Marvel, where the entire cinematic universe is on the same page, and blockbusters roll out in assembly-line fashion. With all the upheaval the studio has endured in recent years, concentrating on follow-ups to its core hits – like Shazam 2 – could go a long way to winning over fans disappointed by the constant missteps of the last few years, especially after the Warner Bros. Discovery merger.
2023 is going to be a big year for DC, even after Shazam 2 opens in March. The Flash and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom will finally see their releases (we hope), and Blue Beetle, with Xolo Maridueña (Cobra Kai) in the lead role, is due to release next August. The DC Cinematic Universe could look very different a year from now, and that’s great news for fans.