Shazam 2’s Director Avoided Ripping Off One Specific MCU Blockbuster

Shazam 2 director David F. Sandberg says he made sure not to rip off Marvel's Doctor Strange.

By Sean Thiessen | Published

shazam 2

DC Studios will try to capture the magic this March with Shazam! Fury of the Gods. In an interview with SlashFilm, Shazam 2 director David Sandberg discussed the upcoming sequel, which embroils Shazam, played by Zachary Levi, in a world of magic, mysticism, and mythology. The superpowers on display required Sandberg and his team to create a look for their movie magic distinct from the sorcery effects in Marvel’s Doctor Strange.

When asked if he or the cast knew on set what the magical effects in Shazam 2 were going to look like, Sandberg had this to say: “No, because the powers, especially Anthea’s [Rachel Zegler’s] power — she can rearrange the world — that was something we worked a really long time on. So I didn’t even really know what it was going to look like.”

“It was tricky, because it’s somewhat similar to things we’ve seen in Doctor Strange. So it’s like, ‘Oh, we have to do something different. We can’t rip off Doctor Strange.’ So it was carefully trying to come up with ways of showing that it’s similar to that. So we didn’t really know what their powers would look like until pretty late in the process.”

-David F. Sandberg

With numerous visual effects, the casts and crews of superhero films have to use their imaginations. The films are shot largely on green screens as stars interact with mythical creatures and magical effects that are represented by things as silly as tennis balls. Still, Sandberg did his best to give the cast of Shazam 2 something to work with.

The production employed tall actors in gray spandex to act as mythical creatures, giving the main cast a living being to play their scenes with. Sandberg said much of the film is shot on built, practical sets, but a lot of sets had to be digitally extended in post-production. He admitted that it wasn’t until close to the end that he and his team got to see what Shazam 2 would really look like.

The fate of the franchise in DC Universe’s future is riding on the success of Shazam 2. Sandberg confessed he takes things one movie at a time and does not have any ideas for a third Shazam film. He did express excitement about the possibility of a continuation, thanks to a concession by DC Studios co-head James Gunn.

shazam 2

Gunn said that Shazam does not contradict with the new vision of the DCU and could live in it or alongside it going forward. If Shazam 2 is a box office hit, the fate of the franchise may have better odds than other DC projects that have been shut down. Batgirl and Man of Steel 2 headline the DC casualties of the past year.

Shazam 2 may have magical super powers at its fingertips, but it will face off with worthy adversaries at the box office. The month of March brings the release of Creed III, Scream VI, 65, and John Wick: Chapter 4. The steady stream of franchise fare is sure to draw crowds to cinemas, but early projections spell disaster for Shazam 2’s opening weekend; it is expected to produce a lower debut than its pre-pandemic predecessor.

Shazam 2 is the first DC film to release since James Gunn and Peter Safran began their upheaval of the DCU. It will be followed by The Flash and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. After that, Gunn and Safran’s new DCU project will kick in and launch a new era for the franchise. Whether Shazam remains a part of that plan will likely be determined soon.

Shazam 2 stars teenager Billy Batson, played by Asher Angel, who transforms at will into the godlike Shazam, played by Zachary Levi. When evil forces, played by Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu, and Rachel Zegler, come to claim Earth and the magical powers that were stolen from them, Billy and his adopted brothers and sisters must use their power and courage to save the world from destruction.

There may not be a magic word to conjure a hit movie, but  David Sandberg and the filmmakers behind Fury of the Gods are giving it a shot with Shazam!