Zachary Levi, who stars in DC and Warner Bros.’ upcoming Shazam, put the film in Hollywood screenwriting terms for the hundreds of fans who crowded into his panel session at New York Comic-Con’s SYFY Wire Live Stage.
“It’s Big meets Superman,” Levi said. “There’s levity built into it … It’s not that it skews younger. It just happens to have ‘younger’ in its nature.”
The film, set for release on April 5, 2019, centers on foster child Billy Batson, a teen-ager able to transform into the titular adult superhero Shazam, portrayed by Levi. Batson derives his heroic attributes by saying, “Shazam,” an acronym for the ancient-world gods and historical figures Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury.
The only part of the film Levi said has seen is the trailer, which dropped at San Diego Comic-Con in July. He called it “pretty dope” and said it filled him with the joy he had “when I was a kid watching The Goonies.”
Levi, known for his title role in NBC’s sardonic action series Chuck as well as more recent film roles in films like Thor. “I’m basically playing myself,” he said of Shazam. “I get to play a 14-year-old, which is very natural to me because I am a man-child.”
As a self-described comic-book lover, he acknowledged that fans of Shazam have been waiting for a long time (the comic book dates to the 1930s). “That can lead to a lot of passion in a negative way,” he said. “But I’m going to do my best.”
The hyper-chatty 20-minute talk, conducted amid the din of one of the large halls in the Javits Center, showcased Levi’s antic, verbal tendencies. Unprompted, he talked about the “self-care” of going to therapy and even lamented that while he has been doing intense physical work-outs recently while shooting the film, he has his moments of vulnerability.
“Girls, you have always had this comparison thing going, which is terrible. When you’re walking by any newsstand, you see all of the magazines and everything is PhotoShopped,” he said. “But guys have it too!” He explained that he had woken up recently and checked his phone. Chris Hemsworth had posted a video on Instagram of him “getting shredded” at the gym, Levi said. “We compare ourselves too. I thought, ‘I have been working so hard and I’m still not there.’” Levi sighed. “We have to be patient with ourselves. We have to love ourselves.”