We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

We almost got a darker and grittier Shazam movie

Starring Zachary Levi and Asher Angel, the Shazam movies are known for being lighthearted in nature, but Warner Bros wanted it darker.

Zachary Levi in Shazam 2

When Shazam burst on to our screens a few years ago, it was quickly established that this 2019 movie was worlds away from the dark and gritty DC Universe we’d come accustomed to.

Similar to the likes of Bruce Wayne, 14-year-old Billy Batson had something of a tragic backstory as an abandoned child in the foster care system. However, as he acquires the powers of Shazam and adjusts to being a superhero, his attitude and antics with adoptive brother Freddy stay, for the most part, light and comedic. It’s like a superhero movie version of Tom Hanks movie Big.

With the Shazam 2 release date being closer than ever, it’s hard to imagine Shazam being anything other than a comedy movie. Yet, as reported by Collider, a decade-long, stopping-and-starting production process meant that the DC movie was, for a while at least, going in a wildly different direction.

Back in the early ‘2000s, New Line Cinema had the rights to develop a Shazam movie directed by Peter Segal. But once Warner Bros acquired the studio, they wanted the film to go in a radically different direction. John August, the then-screenwriter for the Shazam movie, explained in a 2009 blog post, “The studio felt the movie played too young. They wanted edgier. They wanted Billy to be older. They wanted Black Adam to appear much earlier.”

YouTube Thumbnail

“I was under contract to deliver one more draft. So I took them at their (written) word and delivered what they said they wanted: a much harder movie, with a lot more Black Adam. It wasn’t the action-comedy I’d signed on to write, but it was a movie I could envision getting made. The producer and director liked it, and turned it in to the studio while I was in France. By the time I got back, the project was dead.”

The idea of a Shazam movie was later revived in 2014, and five years later, we got the Billy Batson we know and love. While you wait to watch Shazam 2 in theatres, check out our guides on the Shazam cast, 2023 movies, and other new movies coming this year.