Shazam 2 keeps Wonder Woman, Batman out of the picture in a smart way

At any time, if you bother to mention Shazam! Wrath of the Gods Directed by David F. Sandberg, about 8-10 people wonder why Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman don’t show up to help Shazam in the DC movie.

“Where was the Justice League when all this happened???” one inquiring mind chimes in after Sandberg shares an innocuous photo of the dragon that set Philadelphia on fire. Fortunately, the instructor has an answer to every question.

The Justice League isn’t actually dead Wrath of the Gods picks back up with Billy Batson and his Shazamily (and if you’ve seen the recent spoiler TV spot, you know there’s room for a cameo or two). But when the Daughters of Atlas descend from the sky to take back their powers from Billy and his orphaned brothers, it may feel that way. Sandberg’s sequel is a movie about Shazam (played in adult form by Zachary Levi) figuring out who he is in the grand pantheon of superheroes and what happens when he doesn’t have Superman—or, in this case, his snooze. brother Freddy played Superman-like powers – alongside him. And to create a chamber for such an emotional incubator, Sandberg and writers Henry Gayden and Chris Morgan found an easy solution that also dismisses any questions fans may have about the Justice League rushing in to save the day: a literal chamber.

“Marvel gets this, too,” Sandberg laments to Polygon with a laugh. “Why aren’t the Avengers here? Why isn’t the Justice League here? Well, that can not We have Justice League, even though that would be cool, but we talked about it — and that’s why we have a dome over Philadelphia, a force field that keeps people out.”

A shot from the dome Shazam! Wrath of the Gods trailer

Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

Although the original Shazam kept the superheroes at street level as Billy learned to use his new powers, Wrath of the Gods gets bigger. As daughters Hespera (Helen Mirren), Kalypso (Lucy Liu) and Anthea (Rachel Zegler) pursue Shazamil, the sequel remains uniquely set within the confines of Philadelphia, though the city has never felt bigger than the three God-powered creatures wreaking havoc. And eventually their magical walls off the city for outside interference, leaving only Shazam to save the day. Which is hard for Billy when the audience is back with him – not only does he want his brothers and sisters to use their powers responsibly, he wants them to work as a team 24/7.

“(The dome) is a completely natural extension of him holding too tight at the beginning,” says Gayden. – We always knew that he had to let go. (…) Then we have these daughters who have lost their fathers to Shazam’s powers and could tell a story of loss, encountering a literal superhero with impostor syndrome and the reality that he doesn’t deserve his powers.

“I really appreciated its pressure cooker,” adds Morgan. “I think in an early draft, the dome comes in early, and then it was pushed back a little bit, kind of towards the end of the second act. But it’s cool because you see the effect it has on the city — it’s a way to add tension and ultimately isolate Shazam from the family.

Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

Sandberg says there was a brief discussion about trying to play on fan expectations that a DC hero might fit in and help, but it never took root. “I thought maybe we should at least get a news report on TV or something where you see Superman outside the dome or Batman trying to get in,” he says. “But we never went down that road because it opens up a whole can of worms!”

Although development continues Wrath of the Gods began almost immediately after the success of the first film, the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted filming plans and delayed the sequel long enough for DC to undergo major changes since the film was greenlit. DC Films president Walter Hamada and co-chairman Geoff Johns were on hand as Sandberg and his writers hammered out ideas, but the film opens March 17 under the new DC Entertainment led by James Gunn and Peter Safran (who produced both Shazam movies). ). The DCEU’s Justice League, which would theoretically attempt to breach the dome, isn’t part of Gunn and Safran’s announced plans for the DC slate (nor is Shazam’s usual antagonist, Black Adam). But for Sandberg, the ambiguity of where the franchise and the Expanded Universe are located is a luxury.

“Shazam has been away, kind of in its own corner,” Sandberg says. “The stories in these movies is not really contributed to the greater DC universe, which is a good thing. Because now, what they’ve told me is that there’s nothing in the Shazam movies that conflicts with their plans for the future of DC. So it’s like you can do more movies or be a part of it because there’s nothing that conflicts with it.”

In this way, the dome is really a sandbox.

“This is much bigger,” Sandberg says. “There’s so much going on. And I love playing with new toys.”

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