Shazam! is part of the DC film universe, but just because it is, don't expect any of that to be important when the new movie arrives later this year. I had the opportunity to speak with Asher Angel, who plays the young Billy Batson, on the set of Shazam! last year and he explained that while heroes like Batman and Superman will exist in the universe of this film, that's not all that important to Billy Batson, because he's focused on things other than superheroes. According to Angel...
Umm... No, because oddly enough, Billy isn't a big superhero aficionado. Billy's been so obsessed with trying to find his parents, trying to find his family. And he's lived on the streets quite a few times in between all that. To him, that stuff is going on, but he's not caring so much about that.
Shazam!'s connection to the existing DC Universe of movies is somewhat unique in the massive superhero world that we all live in, while the events of movies like Justice League have clearly taken place in this new film, because our main character is all of 14-years-old, those events don't impact him directly. What's more, while some might find themselves living in awe of the superheroes amongst them, Billy Batson doesn't.
Billy's ultimate goal in Shazam! isn't to be a hero, it's simply to find his mother. Billy is on his own in life but he believes his mother is still out there someplace and he's always looking for her. This has led to him living on the streets before ultimately being placed in a foster home. He's less than thrilled to find himself under a roof with several other foster kids. He's not looking for a family. He believes he already has one.
This lack of caring about people with superpowers might ultimately be the reason Billy Batson is given the power in the first place. Since he doesn't really want it, there's less of a chance he might abuse it.
This is why, when Billy Batson does gain the powers of Shazam, he needs to rely on his new foster brother Freddy, played by Jack Dylan Grazer. Freddy loves superheroes in the way that a real-life kid might idolize professional athletes. He knows everything there is to know about them, at least as much as everyday people know.
If most of us gained superpowers we'd likely know exactly what we wanted to do with them, but Billy Batson isn't like that. One wonders if a movie like Shazam! might appeal to those in our world who don't usually go in for the superhero genre. Perhaps the film's greater emphasis on comedy will mean that the Billy Batson's of the world might give this one a shot.
Of course, all this doesn't necessarily mean that the DC Universe won't have a part to play in Shazam! The word on the street was that the film was trying to work out a cameo by Henry Cavill at one point, and while it looks like that may not happen, there's always the possibility the movie was able to quietly make it work, or decided to do something else to nod at the DC heroes. And if Shazam! is a hit, you can bet that the Justice League will be taking note of him in future movies. We'll find out when Shazam! hits screens in April.