For a long time the Shazam movie seemed to be a somewhat abstract and separate concept from the rest of the DC film universe. But now, with a release date locked in, Shazam! is moving full steam ahead and the cast is beginning to fill out. As reported earlier, Mark Strong was in talks to play the villain in the film, Doctor Thaddeus Sivana, and that has been confirmed. The actor is no stranger to comic book movies, having played Sinestro in Green Lantern and Merlin in the Kingsman series. Mark Strong recently spoke about the role and getting the chance to tackle another DC villain, saying:
I'm playing an evil bastard called Doctor Sivana, they are always the best characters to play, the most fun. I was Sinestro in Green Lantern which I thought was a rather good film but it didn't do what they wanted so I feel like I've got unfinished business in the DC world, I played a pretty evil character in that and he was meant to get even worse in the second one but that never happened but I think I'm going to get the chance to do that in Shazam!, I hope so.
One bright spot in Green Lantern was the pitch-perfect casting of Mark Strong as Sinestro. The actor is excellent as a villain and it's cool to hear that the failure of Green Lantern did not daunt his desire to really have fun playing a DC villain. The role of Doctor Thaddeus Sivana should give Mark Strong all the villainous material he desires. The character is Shazam's oldest and most frequent foe. He is the prototypical mad scientist and similar to Lex Luthor; he takes a scientific approach to defeating his godlike nemesis. Playing such an evil bastard, as Mark Strong described him, should allow for a really fun performance and allow him to really revel in the villainy that was denied him when Green Lantern didn't spawn a sequel. Mark Strong also spoke about the training involved to become the character, saying:
I've been training like a mad man, I'm about to go over and see the stunt guys, I've been trying all of these harnesses on and I think I'm going to be doing lots of flying around and firing electricity out of my hands.
Like pretty much every comic book character, Doctor Sivana has undergone many changes over the years. Originally relying simply on the power of science, Doctor Sivana has gained some meta-human abilities thanks to DC's recent New 52 comic universe reboot. So based on Mark Strong's comments to Celebretainment, it sounds like he will be playing the more souped-up and less frail version of the character. In the New 52, Doctor Sivana turned to magic when the scientific method failed and he takes some magical lightning to the face for his efforts. But now he can see magic and has a sparkly eye and a neat scar to boot. It sounds like here he will also gain further abilities to shoot lightning out of his hands while flying. That beats beakers and test tubes any day. With this film expected to be a Shazam origin story, hopefully we will get to see the genesis of this villain as well. Origin stories of super villains are often just as, if not more, thrilling than their heroic counterparts.
We still have questions about this film that we'll hopefully get some answers to as production ramps up. Shazam is a very different character with a unique mythology and that should allow this film to stand out in the genre and differentiate him from other cinematic superheroes. Shazam! is directed by David F. Sandberg and stars Zachary Levi as Shazam and Asher Angel as Billy Batson. Shazam! hits theaters on April 5, 2019; here's what else we know about the upcoming flick.