The long awaited DCEU casting of Shazam has finally come to fruition after many rumors, fancasts and false reports. However, instead of one of the oft-talked about choices such as Armie Hammer or John Cena, or even one of the people reported as the character Alan Ritchson we got Zachary Levi. The actor most famously known for his titular lead on the NBC show “Chuck” which ran from 2007-2012 with critical successes but suffering ratings.
This casting has been a cause of tumultuous responses from fans worldwide, many of which do not see Levi as the character due to his body type in comparison to the stereotypical portrayal of the character Shazam. I am here to tell you why this is really the perfect casting, even if you may have never once thought of it during your twitter fancasts.
The first and biggest criticism of Levi in regards to this casting is his body type, Shazam is a big and powerful super hero that can go toe to toe with Super Man and is physically imposing as any in the DC Universe. Not only that, but his ultimate nemesis, Black Adam has long been cast as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, one of the most intimidating if not the most intimidating man in Hollywood. And yes, I understand that Levi may not look the part yet, but that is not really an issue. The Rock is listed at 6′ 5″ weighing 260 pounds and is clearly a behemoth of a man, but according to http://injustice.wikia.com/wiki/Shazam Shazam in video game form himself is 6′ 2″ 250 lbs. So he would be looking up to The Rock’s Black Adam regardless, which is where Zachary Levi comes in, he is listed at a tall 6′ 4″ and a lean 200 pounds. While that is clearly not loaded with muscle, he has the height to match up with The Rock and plenty of time to put on the extra muscle. Shazam currently has a 2019 release date and while that is not definite, it still gives Levi plenty of time and he has already posted about the commitment to working out he will have for this role. This author has plenty of faith that given Levi’s tall and lanky frame, all of his added muscle will help him bulk up perfectly for the role, not to mention his suit could add a pound or two to his frame.
That is why Levi should be given the benefit of the doubt. Though what makes the casting perfect is Levi as a person. Levi is a self-proclaimed geek and a lover of all things nerd culture and his social media, actions, and acting decisions reflect that. Whether it is hosting after parties at SDCC or acting as a small role in the “Thor” trilogy, Levi has shown his love for the culture, and the content. Chuck was a great example of this where he embodied all of the traditional stereotypes of nerd culture, in the absolutely coolest way. Whether it was subtle references, homages to various heroes, or blatant shoutouts such as a Tron poster or Star Wars figure, it was clear that both Levi and his character of Chuck had a love for this world. That is something that we as a part of this world should embrace in his love for the source material, this character and these fans, as something he has shown as time and time again and anybody who follows him on social media would know.
Honored and greatly humbled to be a part of the #dcuniverse by bringing the original Captain Marvel to life. I am beside myself with gratitude, not only for this opportunity, but also the incredible outpouring of love and support from so many of you out there in the world. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be in the gym for the rest of forever. 🙏 (amazingly cool art courtesy of @bosslogic) #Shazam
So now to the heart of the character, what makes Shazam a great character? Or a character worthy of his own movie whatsoever? How is he different than the mainstream DC characters such as Super Man or Wonder Woman? Well, while Shazam does have a level of strength on par with that of Clark Kent’s alter ego, and the wisdom of Solomon he also has the heart of a young boy. While many heroes alter egos are either billionaire playboys or your every day run of the mill man or woman hiding in plain site, Shazam is also known as Billy Batson, a young child who was chosen to be the champion of good by the original wizard Shazam. When Billy speaks the wizard’s name out loud he transforms into this super powered goliath.
What makes Billy Batson different from other heroes is that heart, and childlike wonder. Every time Billy transforms, he is having the time of his life. He is living every child’s dream, becoming a super hero with the powers of flight, strength, speed, wisdom and even magic. What kid doesn’t want that? Shazam embodies that every time he uses his powers, he keeps that innocence even as he is trapped in this super body. Which presents quite a unique set of difficulties for whichever actor was given the challenge of portraying him. To be as powerful as Super Man and as mature as a 10 year old boy at the same time is a unique situation specific to Billy Batson.
That is what makes Zachary Levi the perfect choice for this character, those unique skills were the same ones he utilized on his 5 year tenure on the Emmy nominated “Chuck”. He was able to play a character who was thrust into the darkest, most-terrifying world of spies and the CIA while maintaining his innocence throughout the entire run of the show. What made that show special, wasn’t the spying or the drama, but instead the relationships and the things that made Chuck different in a way that the show highlighted to perfection. Those same attributes, being in serious and potentially death defying acts against the world’s most dangerous criminals or in this case villains, while maintaining that childlike innocence, wonder, and humor, is what will make his portrayal special.
Zachary Levi has shown us he has comedic chops, he has shown us he can hold his own in action sequences, and he has shown he can do both serious and childlike. That is what this character requires, and while Levi will certainly have to bulk up to fill out the suit and look the part, that is nothing to worry about. He knows what it has to take, and we should trust him to give his full dedication and put in the work that is required of him. When it is all said and done, he will look every bit as powerful as he needs to be, and will even be able to go toe to toe with Black Adam. In the mean time, everything we know and have seen about Zachary Levi shows us that he will bring the perfect amount of humor and lightness, to an otherwise dark DCEU world, and we should rejoice in that.
What do you think of the casting? Let us know in the comments!