What started off as the MCU dominating the on-screen superhero sphere and DC playing catch up has switched up n recent years. Warner Bros has made a good case for the potential of its own universe with entries such as Wonder Woman, Aquaman and most recently with the success of Shazam!.
Zachary Levi, who played the titular hero, is one of the few actors who has played comic book characters in both the Marvel and DC film worlds. Naturally, fans are curious how working under the two mantles compare. When Levi took questions at a panel at MegaCon in Orlando, here’s what he said:
I mean I had more fun working for DC. I got to be my own superhero for DC. It was super cool. While I wasn’t able to do the first Thor, I was cast in that by Kenneth Branagh, who I think is an incredible talent… and then getting cast as Fandral the Dashing, this Lothario, swashbuckling, Douglas Fairbanks - I was like ‘this is so dope!’
This isn’t a huge surprise. The actor was given an entire hero to call his own in the DC Extended Universe. For Marvel, he revealed that he was cast to play Fandral in the first Thor movie, but was unavailable. As a result, Josh Dallas took on the role for the 2011 film and Levi took over for Thor: The Dark World and Thor: Ragnarok. Although he seems to have loved his character in the Thor franchise as well, it didn’t live up to its potential. He continued with these words:
We had some fun, but we didn’t really do all that much. I mean anybody who saw the movie, as you know they really didn’t really go that direction with the movie, so I really didn’t have that much to do. So I couldn’t possibly have had as much fun and by going and being my own guy who is a 14-year-old in a superhero adult body. The fun and funny, joy and heart that comes from a premise like that, that’s a fun movie!
Fandral and the Warriors Three may have been a common thread in the Thor trilogy, but they continued to be on the sidelines as the films went on and didn’t get much screen time. Levi previously expressed interest for the Thor sidekicks to get a spinoff of their own, but they were killed off in Ragnarok. After The Dark World struggled to impress Marvel fans, Levi’s Fandral didn’t even get a line in Ragnarok. His last words (or any lines for that matter) were cut from the film.
Zachary Levi even admitted his relief that Fandral didn’t make it out alive for Avengers: Infinity War, because it may not have freed his schedule for Shazam!. He said he likely would have been a sitting duck on set for three months only to be killed off then too.
When you ask Zachary Levi to compare his experiences with the two comic book franchises, his answer isn’t tough to predict or understand. His time with Marvel may have been a bit of a letdown, but it was redeemed in a big way when he took on the role of the adult Billy Batson. His Shazam! role allowed him to really show off his acting chops and play a kid in a superhero’s body. He was far from disappointed by the product since the movie was met with positive responses from critics and fans.
Zachary Levi has also pointed out how proud he is of Shazam’s attention to diversity, as it portrayed a foster home full of different identities, including Billy Batson’s bestie, Freddy, who has a disability. Due to the film’s predominantly young cast, a sequel is already being fast tracked for Shazam! at Warner Bros.
There really is no comparison for the actor given his experiences. That said, he has spoken out to fans in the past to stop pitting the two franchises against one another when Captain Marvel and Shazam! were being placed side by side at the box office and since the two heroes once shared the same title.
Why pick a side anyway? Both the comic book universes are offering something different for fans and can be appreciated in their own lights as they both continue to stack its slates with exciting releases.