There are a lot of things that anyone involved in the production of Warner Bros’ Shazam! can signal as being proud of. With its deft mix of horror and comedic tones, as well as its continued revitalization of the DC Comics canon’s film branch, the movie has been well received by critics and fans alike, and one of the film’s stars, Zachary Levi, knows it as well as anyone!
But when it comes to what he’s particularly proud of in director David F. Sandberg’s comic caper, it’s the wide breadth of diversity that’s on display in the film. Zachary Levi explained his position in the following remarks during a recent interview:
And such an incredibly diverse and beautiful rainbow of diversity in that family, ethnically, but also one kid being disabled and all of them being foster kids. I have never in my life seen a movie, even not something that I haven't been a part of, that is so inclusive of so many groups of people that have not felt included. So I was like, 'This is gold. I'm so stoked. I'm so stoked that this is the heartbeat of what this movie is.' So it's an honor. It genuinely, is an honor. And it's been so cool being on social media and seeing so many people who have felt that, and felt seen, finally. Foster kids or people who were in the foster system, are now adults and out of it, or kids that are in right now. And them feeling seen.
At the heart of Shazam! is the story of the foster family, with its children of various ages coming from various ethnic backgrounds, and in the case of Jack Dylan Grazer’s Freddy Freeman, possessing a physical disability. Rather than showcasing a uniform example of diversity, the casting of the various family members was a truer portrait of diversity than most films get to show, and it’s clearly exciting for Zachary Levi to see that this is something that’s helped moviegoers identify with the film.
What’s even better is the fact that when you look at the marketing for Shazam!, it doesn’t oversell the idea of the family’s diversity as a marketing point. Which only makes the big spoilery reveal in the film’s third act all the more exciting, as the efforts that went into that particular scene’s production also required the same sort of diverse casting of characters, but on another level.
If we can do anything in this world, I hope that we can always be, again, looking at people and saying to them, even just in the way we treat them, 'I see you. I see you and I value you. And you're worthy of living the life that you're living.'
As Shazam! is looking to be fast tracked for a sequel in the near future, that message of acceptance, value and representation is likely to continue in the DCEU. Should that be the case, the comic franchise will only rise in personal value, as its efforts to reach out to a more diverse crowd of moviegoers will have been more than worth their inclusion the first time around.
Shazam! is currently in theaters, but if you’ve already seen it and would like to try out a new adventure at the movies, feel free to use our 2019 release schedule to help guide the way.