The President of DC Films, Walter Hamada, has left – in a further shake up after recent upheavals at Warner Bros. David Zaslav, who has made controversial decisions such as scrapping Batgirl, is reportedly looking for a Kevin Feige-like figure who will run DC across movies, TV and beyond. Hamada was a well-liked figure in the industry, and one DCEU movie writer – Henry Gayden – has told a story about ‘Walt’ going out on a creative limb for Shazam!
“I always tell this story as an example of how transformative a good note [from a studio exec] can be, and since Walt left DC today, here it is… In early drafts of Shazam!, Billy’s parents were dead. Late in Act 2, he discovered their gravestones in a Philly cemetery. It was very rote…yet I hoped the visual of a kid finding his parents’ gravestones might prove affecting.”
“Then, one weekend, out of nowhere, Walt called me up and said, ‘What if Billy’s mom is still alive but doesn’t want him?’ My immediate response was: ‘No. No way. That’s wayyyy too heavy for a movie this lighthearted.'”
Gayden continues; “To be clear, the writer (me) was telling the studio exec/president (Walt) that he was going too far out on a limb, that he was taking too big of a swing creatively. I was adamant about how it wouldn’t work.”
Hamada told Gayden to just try writing it. “An hour later, it was my favorite scene in the movie. That was the scene that movie needed — so much so that when we were filming it, I told our producer on set, ‘If this scene doesn’t work, the whole movie doesn’t work.'”
Sometimes taking a risk in what could have been a by-the-numbers superhero movie is the right call. The latest DCEU character Black Adam – was almost in Shazam!, but Dwayne Johnson held out for him to get his own movie. Read what we thought in our Black Adam review.