David F. Sandberg, director of the upcoming DC Extended Universe movie Shazam, has discussed the film’s humor with fans on Reddit, saying that it will be comedic but also include plenty of drama.
This comes after one user commented that Shazam looks like it will become the “first comedic film” in the franchise. Sandberg responded that it will be “very funny,” but added that he wants to use a brand of situation humor rather than the one-liners that are so common in other superhero flicks. He says that he does not have a problem with that kind of humor, merely that it is not the direction that he decided to go with.
“The important thing for me is to mix the funny with a threat that’s serious and to also have dramatic moments,” he said. “All funny all the time takes the weight out of it.”
The Shazam movie centers around a teenage boy named Billy Batson, who is given the ability to transform into an adult superhero by saying the magic word “Shazam!” In his normal form, Billy will be played by Asher Angel, best known as Jonah Beck from the Disney Channel TV series Andi Mack; as a superhero, the character will be played by Zachary Levi, who also played Flynn Rider in Tangled and Fandral in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Thor series.
Shazam is generally considered a lighthearted franchise; Sandberg is one of many who have cited its popularity over the years as coming from wish fulfillment. Certainly the concept invites many opportunities for humor, as Billy—usually depicted as a bright-eyed kid and a superhero fanboy—goes around pretending to be an adult who is used to having superpowers.
That said, drama is also an important part of this story. In nearly every adaptation, Billy is portrayed as an orphan; in most versions, he was living alone on the streets before becoming a hero. It is rumored that he will be joining a new foster home in the movie, similar to the New 52 version of his origin, but that story also depicted him having a hard time adjusting to his well-meaning new family. Hopefully Sandberg (who is normally a horror director) can find the right balance of silliness and seriousness to pull off this emotionally complex concept.