Between the new year and the DC Extended Universe film Shazam entering pre-production, comic book writer Jerry Ordway decided to celebrate with some art of the movie’s beloved superhero.
Ordway posted a photo of it on Twitter, along with the message: “While I’m sending good wishes for 2018, this one is for @ponysmasher and @ZacharyLevi , and everyone working hard on the Shazam film!” The former tag is for the film’s director, David F. Sandberg, while Zachary Levi is the actor portraying the film’s superhero.
Shazam focuses on Billy Batson, a young boy who is granted superpowers by an ancient wizard. When he calls the wizard’s name, “Shazam!,” Billy is hit by lightning and transforms into an adult superhero. The word is also an acronym for the six legendary figures his powers derive from: Solomon (wisdom), Hercules (strength), Atlas (stamina), Zeus (power), Achilles (bravery) and Mercury (speed).
As a hero, Billy is traditionally called “Captain Marvel,” but due to copyright issues with Marvel Comics, he is sometimes called “Shazam” instead. It is unknown which the movie will go with.
Captain Marvel is actually an older comic character, created by Fawcett Comics in the 1940s; for years he was actually more popular than Superman. He was eventually bought by DC Comics, and was reinvented in the modern age by Ordway, whose Power of Shazam series ran for about four years during the 1990s.
Drawn on a blank variant cover for the DC Comics series The Multiversity (one issue of which focused on the Shazam franchise), the art consists of two pictures. In one, Billy Batson is superimposed over Captain Marvel/Shazam, representing him transforming from one into the other, while the other has Captain Marvel/Shazam flying through the sky. Both images are in black and white and depict lightning clouds in the background.
The film is expected to go into production next month, with a release date scheduled for April 5, 2019. Aside from Levi as Captain Marvel/Shazam, the Andi Mack actor Asher Angel has been cast as Billy Batson, Grace Fulton as Billy’s sister Mary, and Jack Dylan Grazer as his best friend, Freddy Freeman. (In the comics, both eventually become superheroes too.) Mark Strong is in talks to play the villain, Doctor Sivana.