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The DC Comics brand of films has been on the mend, with its most recent efforts in the world of comic adaptations gaining a lot of attention and affection from fans. That trend looks like it’s continuing with the theatrical release of Shazam! set to take the public by storm this weekend, with early reactions trending in the film’s favor. Even the cast of the film knows how latest DC adaptation that makes it a bona fide crowd pleaser, and they weren’t afraid to share their thoughts. While the answers may differ slightly, all roads lead to two key elements; fun and heart.
During the recent press day for the film, CinemaBlend got to sit down with the cast of Shazam! to discuss how this superpowered adventure gives the people what they want. And starting off with Dr. Silvana himself, the always solid Mark Strong, the film’s appeal is very easy to see. In particular, Strong pointed out the following elements that really brought the film together:
It’s just so irreverent, and so much fun. The notion now that we’ve seen a lot of superhero movies in which the superheroes are really capable, and now suddenly we see one who has no idea how to use his powers, is really funny. So I think people will enjoy the humor of that. I hope they also then enjoy, conversely, quite how dark and weird and creepy the bad guy story is as well. And then, of course, there’s the family theme at the heart of it all; which is quite moving, I think.
Mark Strong is certainly not new to the DC Comics rodeo, as his performance in Green Lantern with Ryan Reynolds introduced him as Sinestro, the would-be baddie of that corner of the DC universe. So seeing his thoughts on how Shazam! works as a film come from not only a place of experience, but also of genuinely constructive criticism.
Also, Mark Strong nails it on the head when he mentions the fact that director David F. Sandberg’s film is a great mixture of the fun and the family, with a nice sprinkling of the scary on top. Which also works, considering a big part of the demographic for Shazam! just happens to be kids and teenagers who will be flocking to their local theaters this weekend to partake in the joys this film has to offer.
It helps that there were some kids on hand during the Shazam! press day that could confirm those thoughts are, in fact accurate. With Asher Angel and Jack Dylan Grazer on hand for the festivities, we also got to speak to them about what audiences should expect when seeing Warner Bros’ new comic book movie. And judging by their reaction, and the quotes below, fun is a huge part of the crowd-pleasing energy Shazam! has going for it:
Grazer: ‘They should expect some noise, some laughter, some constant applause because this movie is so damned good. It’s really really fun. When we went to the movie theater to watch it with the fans, they were all over the place. They were ecstatic, they were laughing…’
Angel: ‘They were jumping up and down in their seats.’
Grazer: ‘...on their toes. Yeah, it was great.’
As they were answering the question as to what makes Shazam! such a crowdpleaser, there was this current of energy that filled the room. Both being young, up-and-coming actors, Asher Angel and Jack Dylan Grazer are clearly excited to see this movie about to take off. It sounds like they had a lot of fun watching it with a crowd during one of the several public screenings that have been conducted to really hype up the movie.
But, of course, how can you talk about Shazam! without roping in the man in the suit himself: certified crowdpleaser Zachary Levi. When it came his turn to answer the question of just what makes his big superhero debut in the DC universe something you can watch in a theater, surrounded by fans of the source material, he knew exactly what makes this film work in front of a crowd. The first part of Levi’s answer went as follows:
The everything. It’s got everything, guys. It’s wish fulfillment on the purest level. It’s the little kid in all of us who’s always dreamt about being a superhero, and now can say a magic word and become a superhero. That’s like the most cool, iconic archetype of the hero story I can think of. Plus, it’s layered with so much heart, and so much fun and [it’s] funny. I mean, there’s so much comedy, and some creepy stuff as well, you know.
The fun that shines through in Shazam! is undeniable, and you can literally see it on Zachary Levi’s face, throughout our interview and other venues during the film’s press tour. But the best part is, the fun that went into making the film as thrilling as it turned out to be in the finished product certainly doesn’t betray the message it’s trying to put across.
That fact isn’t lost on Zachary Levi either, as when he continued to answer the question of what makes Shazam! a singular experience as a film, he hit on a couple of points closer to the emotional heart of the film, which find themselves integrated rather well alongside the more spectacular elements. Levi continued by mentioning the following:
I think a lot of people will see themselves represented on screen, particularly people that might not feel as represented on screen, and I think that’s really beautiful. The family dynamic speaks to a lot. We get to tell a story about foster kids. There are 450,000, or so, kids in the United States right now in the foster system, and I love that they have themselves to look up to. To be empowered by, to shine that light, even in a small way, is a very powerful thing.
The DC Comics film franchise has come a long way from the days of people debating its depiction of Superman, as well as the question of whether or not the series on the whole really understood the comics to begin with. Shazam! definitely proves itself to be a course correction in line with the whimsy of Aquaman and the empowerment of Wonder Woman, and it’s going to be particularly interesting seeing the public reaction to the film as it opens wide. In the meantime, check out the reactions of the cast of Shazam!, in regards to their own film, in the clip from our interview shown below.