Pretending to be a superhero is half the fun of childhood. But what if you could go from being a kid to an adult with god-worthy powers just by uttering a single word?
That's exactly what happens in the upcoming movie, in which young character Billy Batson can instantly change into an adult superhero just by yelling the word "Shazam!"
Shazam hits theaters on April 5, but early reviews are already in. CNET's Rich Trenholm calls it . "Unexpected, hilarious and joyful, Shazam is a giddy, exuberant blast of superhero freshness," he says. "The idea that the hero is basically a kid gives the film a compelling and unique hook, and it's a hook the filmmakers work for endless laughs and action."
CNET sister site GameSpot also calls the film DC's best yet. "Director David Sandberg's Shazam is the first movie in this shared cinematic universe with which I honestly have no major gripes -- it's just a good movie, whether or not you're a fan of DC's often gritty, dark films, or have any idea who or what Shazam is," reviewer Michael Rougeau writes.
And Variety says: "As a teenage kid in a superman's body, Zachary Levi is pure pop charisma in a comic book saga that walks a deft line between satire and sincerity."
Who's making it?
The latest film in the DC Expanded Universe is directed by David F. Sandberg and written by Henry Gayden and Darren Lemke.
Shazam will be the first film depiction of the character since the 1941 serial Adventures of Captain Marvel, the superhero's original name. It's also the first full-length feature film centered around Shazam.
The film got a new teaser on Jan. 20 containing a Man of Steel Easter Egg.
After the film officially wrapped 10 months ago, both star Zachary Levi and director Sandberg shared Shazam tributes online.
Levi posted to Instagram a fan-made image of Shazam slurping on a soft drink while watching fellow DC Comics superheroes Superman and Batman battle it out.
A couple of days later, Sandberg tweeted a short video mashup mixing the goofiness of Billy Batson/Shazam with the moodier movies fans are used to seeing out of the DC Comics film universe.
In July, Levi's Shazam. And on a few days later, fans got a and his inner teen as he blew a giant bubblegum bubble and checked his cell phone on the cover of Entertainment Weekly.
The watch the full panel with the cast here.for Shazam hit during . Fans can
In December, Levi shared the official poster image on his Instagram with the caption, "Heyoo! The new poster of Shazam movie is here! And a there's a new trailer coming in the new year."
Also in December, new movie footage of the first interaction between Shazam and Dr. Sivana (Mark Strong) was presented at Brazil Comic Con Experience.
In the video, Shazam acts like he is unbeatable, but villain Dr. Sivana puts him in his place by throwing him up into the sky to try to make Shazam to beg for his life. Dr. Sivana complains Shazam acts childish, and Shazam agrees that he is indeed a kid. As he falls, Shazam screams "Superman! Superman!" and starts to float.
A comic book-inspired Shazam movie poster was also unveiled at Brazil Comic Con Experience.
What we know about the plot
According to the movie's official description, Billy Batson is a streetwise 14-year-old foster kid who always kept everyone at arm's length.
One day, a dying wizard grants him superpowers of six ancient heroes, which Billy can activate whenever he says the wizard's name, "Shazam." He is then turned into the adult superhero Shazam via a magic lightning bolt.
Shazam may look like an adult version of himself, but he's still a teen at heart.
Shazam tests the limits of his abilities to see if he can fly, have X-ray vision or any other kind of superhero-type powers. But he'll need to master whatever powers he might have quickly to fight the deadly forces of evil controlled by Dr. Thaddeus Sivana.
Billy's foster brother and best friend Freddy Freeman, who happens to be a superhero expert, helps both train Billy and keep Billy's new superpowers secret.
In the, we see all of those plot points to be true, but there's also a strong sense of humor throughout the film. In one sequence, Billy tests out his new superhero abilities as Shazam that include flying, strength and being bulletproof.
Some theories (based on the comics)
In the comics, Billy is transformed into a magical flying adult superhero who has "the genius of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the unbreakable will of Atlas, the lightning blasts of Zeus, the power of Achilles and the speed of Mercury," according to the DC Comics website.
The first letter of each of the ancient heroes spells out the superhero's namesake -- Shazam.
If the movie goes follows the original comics, we'll see Shazam not only have the strength, powers and fortitude of mythological Greek gods. He'll also have to deal with powerful enemies as well as struggle with his own youthful lack of judgment and experience.
While DC Comics has yet to show off an official image from the movie, Levi posted to Instagram a photo where he poses next to a at the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas.
The red superhero suit included the hood attachment seen on the New 52 version of the hero from the comics, according to CNET sister site Comicbook.com.
New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. Pictures will release Shazam in theaters on April 5 in the US and UK. An Australian release has not yet been announced. The film will also be available in RealD 3D and IMAX 3D.
Fandango and Warner Bros. Pictures are offering earlier advance screenings on March 23.
Meet the cast
Zachary Levi as Shazam
Asher Angel as Billy Batson
Adam Brody as an unnamed principal cast member
Mark Strong as Dr. Thaddeus Sivana
Grace Fulton as Mary Bromfield
Andi Osho as Ms. Glover
Cooper Andrews as Victor Vasquez
D.J. Cotrona as a principal cast member
David J. MacNeil as Mr. Bryer
Faithe Herman as Darla Dudley
Grace Fulton as Mary Bromfield
Ian Chen as Eugene Choi
Jack Grazer as Freddy Freeman
Jovan Armand as Pedro Peña
Marta Milans as Rosa Vasquez
Ron C. Jones as The Wizard
This piece was originally published on May 29, 2018, and is updated as news of the movie rolls in.