Over the past few months, David F. Sandberg’s Shazam sequel has been really coming together following the electric, big-screen debut of the comic book character in 2019. The movie, titled Shazam: Fury of the Gods, recently added some new and powerful blood to the cast with Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu being cast last month as Atlas’ daughters Hespera and Kalypso. We’d expected the new characters to star alongside Mark Strong’s chilling Dr. Sivana, but that will not be the case.

When CinemaBlend spoke to Mark Strong ahead of his role in Cruella, we asked him about Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu’s casting in Shazam: Fury of the Gods as the movie starts filming this month. The actor shared his reaction to their casting, along with confirming that Dr. Sivana will not return. In his words:

Helen I know really well, so that’s fantastic. I’ve never worked with Lucy, but I know her. But, I can tell you, and I’ve been given permission to do this by the producer, Dr. Sivana isn’t in Shazam 2. They are the villains, so I am very happy to take a back seat and let the women go in there and do their villainous stuff. So even though it’s sort of implied at the end of one that Sivana would come back with Mister Mind, they’ve gone in a sort of different direction in order to sort of allow the fact that it would probably be more fascinating to see those women do their evil stuff.

By the end of Shazam, the movie seemed to be setting up Dr. Sivana’s continued involvement in the storyline. The final few minutes teased a team-up between him and evil space worm Mister Mind, which likely would see them attempt to take over the seven magic realms. But as Mark Strong shared with us, the sequel has decided to go in a different direction and move the focus over to Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu’s daughters of Atlas.

We’ll certainly miss Dr. Sivana’s presence in the second Shazam movie, but Mark Strong doesn’t rule out the character ever returning to the DCEU. The actor sounds like he’s very excited to see Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu take on the villain mantle this time around and usher in their surely badass evil doings. While we would have welcomed all of the above in Fury of the Gods, no one likes crowded superhero movies, and it’s an exciting update from Strong.

What’s interesting about Mirren’s Hespera and Liu’s Kalypso is that their characters are not direct-from-the-comics villains like Dr. Sivana but their father Atlas is one of the six immortal elders that serve as the source of Shazam’s mystical powers. “Shazam” is an acronym for the sources that include Solomon, Hercules, Achilles, Zeus, Atlas and Mercury.

There certainly haven't been enough powerful, villainous women in the DCEU to stand their ground, so having two lead the epic sequel is an exciting moment for Shazam 2. Not only that, but Fury of the Gods also recently cast West Side Story newcomer Rachel Zegler in an undisclosed, but “key” role.

At present, Mark Strong stars as the Baroness’ valet John alongside Emma Stone and Emma Thompson in Cruella, coming to theaters May 28. Check out what upcoming movies are heading our way this year with CinemaBlend’s 2021 release schedule.

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