It Sure Sounds Like Shazam Is Dead On Arrival In James Gunn’s DC Universe

Shazam director David F. Sandberg says he has not even been able to have a conversation with James Gunn about further movies.

By Nathan Kamal | Published

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The fate of the Shazam franchise within James Gunn’s new DC Universe seems more uncertain than ever, as director David F. Sandberg says he has not even had a conversation with the studio about more films. In a recent interview with UPROXX, Sandberg revealed that he had yet to discuss any future movies with James Gunn or co-CEO Peter Safran, chalking it up to the busy schedule of the two men (which is fair enough, though Gunn seems to spend a lot of time on Twitter). Although that is not a definitive no about the future of Shazam at DC, it certainly is not promising.

It also does not help that no Shazam-related projects were part of James Gunn’s announcement of his ambitious “Gods and Monsters” story arc for the new DC Universe, which is reportedly the first half of a decade-long franchise renewal. While it sounds like there are other projects that were not part of the initial announcement (and there is always part two of the plan), it seems increasingly likely that the current iteration of Shazam will be a casualty of the changeover from the remnants of Zack Snyder’s DC Extended Universe to James Gunn’s DC Universe.

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That puts Zachary Levi’s magically empowered Billy Batson in the same boat as Henry Cavill’s Superman (though it has been confirmed that discussions to bring back the actor in another role have occurred), the HBO Max Batgirl movie, whatever was going on with Green Lantern and a whole bunch of other projects. To be clear, one cannot really fault James Gunn for this; he inherited a controversial slate of movies and sometimes you have to tear down before you can build up.

On the other hand, the first Shazam movie was one of the critically best-received movies for DC at the time and earned a sold $366 million worldwide (which should perhaps note for studios, in that if a movie doesn’t take $500 million to make it doesn’t half to earn a billion to be a success). Early reports indicate that the upcoming sequel Shazam! Fury of the Gods might be one of the best movies of the franchise so far; if it doesn’t flop at the box office in the wake of Dwayne Johnson’s disastrous Black Adam, it could gross as much as the first movies or even exceed it. Those are not exactly the kind of assets that a studio is likely to give up easily.

Certainly, David F. Sandberg has previously said the future of the Shazam franchise will depend on fans going and buying tickets to see the movie, a common sentiment among filmmakers and studios since the confusing advent of simultaneous streaming releases and the Covid-19 pandemic. Aside from the second Shazam movie, DC’s next major releases are the long-delayed The Flash and Aquaman and the Last Kingdom, the remnants of Zack Snyder’s vision. We will just have to wait and see if any of them have the box office strength to generate further sequels.