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Suit Up With These Shazam! Fury Of The Gods Facts

The comic book character Shazam has existed for so many decades that just one live-action movie couldn't suffice for this legendary figure. Thanks to the strong box office haul of the first "Shazam!" in 2019, a sequel has now arrived to explore more of the cinematic potential of this upbeat character. That sequel is "Shazam! Fury of the Gods," which sees Billy Batson aka Shazam (played by Asher Angel and Zachary Levi respectively) dealing with not only all his siblings having their own adult superhero personas, but also the imminent threat of the Daughters of Atlas — Anthea (Rachel Zegler), Kalypso (Lucy Liu), and Hespera (Helen Mirren). 

"Fury of the Gods" promises to ramp up the scope and heroics of this corner of the DC Extended Universe. Its arrival into movie theaters comes after a lengthy production process that had to face hurdles nobody could've imagined when the first "Shazam!" opened in 2019. This collection of "Fury of the Gods" facts explores those obstacles, namely the impact COVID-19 had on this blockbuster, as well as countless other creative decisions informing this movie, including Zegler's feelings about joining this superhero franchise. Shazam and his superhero family are a mighty group of do-gooders, but equally strong is this gaggle of "Fury of the Gods" facts.

Director David F. Sandberg wasn't sure about directing another Shazam! right away

Creating a blockbuster superhero movie is an arduous process. It's an experience that occupies years of a person's life and can often continue on right up until the last minute before this feature is set to premiere. There can be great artistic and personally fulfilling rewards in such an endeavor, but it requires a lot of energy. Understandably then, when one finishes up one movie, your immediate thought isn't going to be "let's do all that again!" Director David F. Sandberg exemplified this phenomenon with his initial thoughts on directing a "Shazam!" sequel while he was out promoting the release of that DC Extended Universe motion picture.

Sandberg explained to Slashfilm during an interview about "Shazam!" in April 2019 that he wasn't sure about directing a sequel to this superhero movie as his next project. While he wasn't ruling out making such a big-budget film his next creative endeavor, Sandberg's focus was tied to the first "Shazam!" and he needed a moment to breathe before settling on his follow-up directorial effort. He also noted that, instead of directing a "Shazam!" movie, he might end up making his next directorial effort something smaller-scale or original. Of course, after taking some time to breathe and directing a few shorts, Sandberg would initially overcome this hesitancy and become the director of "Shazam! Fury of the Gods."

The official announcement of Shazam! 2

As 2019 drew to a close, Warner Bros. finally ended the speculation over whether "Shazam!" would, like so many modern superhero movies, get a sequel. Eight months after "Shazam!" debuted in theaters, Warner Bros. announced that an untitled "Shazam!" sequel would open in theaters on April 1, 2022. This news came with the revelation that the creative team of the initial "Shazam!" would be returning for this follow-up, chiefly director David F. Sandberg and screenwriter Henry Gayden. At the time, the sequel to "Shazam!" was the third DC Comics movie Warner Bros. had set for 2022, with the studio also scheduling "The Flash" and a then-untitled "Aquaman" sequel for that year.

This initial announcement ensured that the second "Shazam!" would debut in the early April timeframe that its predecessor had excelled financially in while its April Fool's Day premiere felt consistent with the tongue-in-cheek humor of the original. In hindsight, what's fascinating about this announcement is how oblivious it was to real-world circumstances that would dramatically impact this superhero movie. Three months after this release date news, the COVID-19 pandemic would shut down the global entertainment industry and put the very existence of movie theaters into jeopardy. Clarity on the existence of a "Shazam!" sequel, as the coming months would make clear, was just the beginning of its journey.

David F. Sandberg's starting vision for Fury of the Gods

Given that the characters of "Shazam!" have existed in comics for decades, there were a lot of different places that a sequel could go in terms of story. Director David F. Sandberg revealed to Collider that in the earliest days of working on "Shazam! Fury of the Gods," the decision was made to focus on the New 52 comics incarnation of these characters to inform the follow-up. With the source material condensed down like that, Sandberg and company zeroed in on an element that they all wanted to explore more in a sequel: family.

In the original "Shazam!," Billy Batson and his adopted siblings only got to take on their superhero personas for the grand finale. With this new feature, Sandberg wanted to focus on a superpowered familiar dynamic for the entire film. That idea combined with a desire that a new "Shazam!" movie wouldn't go too far afield of reality set the stage for the eventual story of "Shazam! Fury of the Gods" and got Sandberg stoked about what a sequel could offer creatively. Ideally, the results of all those efforts would be a film that could stand proudly alongside the "Shazam!" comic books.

Mark Strong initially thought he might be back for Fury of the Gods

Mark Strong made for an entertaining baddie as Dr. Sivana in the original "Shazam!." Sivana managed to survive the events of "Shazam!" and a mid-credits scene teased that further installments in this franchise would see this human teaming up with the malicious insect Mister Mind. The final cut of "Shazam! Fury of the Gods" would eventually eschew Sivana in favor of the antagonistic trio known as the Daughters of Atlas.

However, Strong wasn't always meant to be excluded from "Fury of the Gods." As late as November 2020, Strong expressed excitement to Collider on working on a new "Shazam!" adventure while further noting that he was just waiting for a script of this superhero movie sequel to see what kind of role he'd have in it. A few months later, Strong would confirm to Den of Geek that, on the eve of "Shazam! Fury of the Gods" kicking off principal photography, he'd confirmed that Sivana would not be in this sequel. While a departure from his initial hopes for this follow-up, Strong harbored no ill will about this development and expressed excitement over seeing what the film's new baddies would accomplish.

The splashy virtual title reveal of Fury of the Gods

In August 2020, mere months after the entertainment industry had ground to a halt because of the COVID-19 pandemic, DC fans got several reminders that there were vibrant pop culture properties still on the horizon. These reminders emerged through the virtual DC Fandome event, which allowed various parts of the DC empire, including comics, TV shows, and movies, to show off upcoming projects that were barreling ahead with production in spite of the difficulties brought on by the pandemic. Among the many creative endeavors explored at this event was the sequel to "Shazam!," which, up to this point, hadn't been given an official title.

That all changed at a panel dedicated to the film, which featured the cast of the first "Shazam!" and director David F. Sandberg uniting forces through a Zoom session to reveal the title of this sequel. For the first time ever, the world learned that this project would be called "Shazam! Fury of the Gods." Given that the motion picture was years away from release, no further details were announced about "Fury of the Gods" at the time, including what exactly the title was referring to. However, in a year of constant uncertainty, this title reveal did reassure "Shazam!" fans that a sequel coming and bringing a lot of fury with it.

Fury of the Gods once planned to feature Mister Mind

The mid-credits scene of "Shazam!" seemed tailor-made to eschew any notions that the DC Extended Universe was stuck in its relentlessly grim and gritty ways. This scene began with an incarcerated Dr. Sivana writing symbols frantically on his jail cell wall before wailing in frustration. His screams are interrupted by a distorted mechanical voice that laughs at his sorrow before referring to humans as barely being different from monkeys. Sivana looks around the room to see who the voice belongs to, which now teases Sivana with the possibility of there being other ways to secure magic.

These words belong to none other than Mister Mind, a tiny caterpillar who claims to have "named the Gods." He's a powerful figure and one of the longest-lasting villains that Shazam ever fought in the comics. This sequence would seem to tease that wherever the "Shazam!" franchise went next, it had to involve Mister Mind. However, this critter is nowhere to be found in "Shazam! Fury of the Gods." Director David F. Sandberg revealed on his Instagram Stories (via ComicBook.com) that there were ambitions to work Mister Mind into the plot of the sequel. However, Mister Mind required so much screentime that there just wasn't enough room for him. Audiences will just have to wait and see if Mister Mind will ever get to unleash his evil plans in future "Shazam!" installments.

Fury of the Gods uses a prominent Peacemaker actor

Rizwan Manji is a Canadian character actor that's appeared in a wide range of projects over the years, ranging from movies like "The Wolf of Wall Street," "Paterson," and "Transformers" to shows like "Schitt's Creek." Given his ubiquity, it isn't a surprise that he'd show up in a high-profile movie like "Shazam! Fury of the Gods." What is surprising, though, is that he appeared in this movie despite previously showing up in a major capacity on another DC Extended Universe project, "Peacemaker," where he played the character of Jamil.

David F. Sandberg took to Twitter to address this situation, confirming a fan inquiry on whether or not Manji was in the feature. Sandberg explained that producer Peter Safran suggested the actor for a role in "Fury of the Gods" due to Safran's positive experience working with him on "Peacemaker." When Sandberg brought up that both of these projects inhabited the same universe, Safran reassured Sandberg that Manji was hardly in "Peacemaker." Sandberg did note that this particular casting could be explained away by Manji's "Fury of the Gods" and "Peacemaker" characters being one and the same since his role in the film is never given a name. For his part, "Peacemaker" writer-director James Gunn joked on Twitter that he thinks of Manji's "Fury of the Gods" character as Jamil's sibling.

Sandberg's biggest takeaway from the first movie that he used to navigate the sequel

"Shazam!" provided director David F. Sandberg with his first foray into big-budget superhero movie storytelling. Having been a veteran of YouTube short films and low-budget horror features, Sandberg was no stranger to making movies, but working with so many moving parts and such an expansive scope was new territory for him. Helming "Shazam!" was a massive learning experience for Sandberg. The chance to direct "Shazam! Fury of the Gods" allowed him to work with his greatest takeaways from the film's predecessor and, potentially, emerge more confident as a filmmaker.

Sandberg revealed to Collider that the biggest thing he learned from the first "Shazam!" was something seemingly simple: the lightning bolts on the costumes of the various superhero characters. For the first film, Sandberg and company opted to realize them practically on-set, which the director regarded as a nightmarish experience. For the sequel, Sandberg opted to have the lightning bolts realized through a streamlined on-set design and primarily through post-production visual effects work. This saved a lot of headaches on set and, to Sandberg's eyes, resulted in lightning bolts that looked much better than the ones from the first "Shazam!" Though it might sound like a trivial note, this is a key example of how Sandberg was always trying to grow and evolve as a director while helming the "Shazam!" features.

Rachel Zegler loved the freedom of coming up with a new character

One of the many intriguing elements of "Shazam! Fury of the Gods" is that it does not employ villains from Shazam's days in the pages of DC Comics. Instead, the three daughters of Atlas that torment Billy Batson and his family are rooted in Greek mythology. While going this route deprived longtime fans of the chance to see beloved antagonists from the comics, it does ensure that "Fury of the Gods" will be offering up villains that no audience members will have seen before. Plus, having such fresh ground to work with was a boon for Rachel Zegler, who plays Anthea, one of the daughters of Atlas.

Zegler explained to Slashfilm that she had a great time working with director David F. Sandberg and writer Henry Gayden, among other creative figures, to figure out who Anthea could be. Not bound by any specific comic book storylines or fan expectations for how Anthea should act, Zegler could instead pursue character details or storylines that seemed interesting to her. This ensured that Zegler's time on "Shazam! Fury of the Gods" was markedly different from other comic book movies, which are often deeply enamored with mimicking key moments and character beats from their source material.

Rachel Zegler's audition process for Fury of the Gods

Rachel Zegler's journey with "Shazam! Fury of the Gods" actually began with another DC Extended Universe title. Zegler was first being pursued for the part of Supergirl in "The Flash," a role she openly admitted to Slashfilm that she just wasn't a good fit for. She went on to note that after this audition process went nowhere, casting director Rich Delia told Zegler that "Fury of the Gods" could be a better fit. This led to Zegler attending multiple auditions for one of the key roles in this sequel, with this strenuous process initially confined just to Zoom sessions because of COVID-19 restrictions.

It was a final audition with "Shazam!" star Jack Dylan Grazer clinched the role for Zegler. After Grazer did a chemistry read with Zegler and other prospective actors, producer Peter Safran asked Grazer directly which of these performers he felt was best for the role. Grazer, a die-hard fan of the "West Side Story" musical, noted that Zegler was the only one of these contenders that was also Maria in Steven Spielberg's "West Side Story." Because of this, Grazer felt "Fury of the Gods" needed Zegler in its cast. While her endeavors with the role of Supergirl went nowhere, Zegler eventually scored the part of Anthea in "Shazam! Fury of the Gods" thanks to the enduring power of her "West Side Story" performance.

The various release dates of Fury of the Gods

When it was first announced, "Shazam! Fury of the Gods" was intended to open in the same early April spot that the first "Shazam!" had excelled in. However, a month into the COVID-19 pandemic, "Fury of the Gods" got its release plans upended, with the feature getting a November 4, 2022 release date instead. This was new territory for the "Shazam!" franchise, and a prime holiday season launchpad still demonstrated a lot of confidence on the part of Warner Bros. However, this was not the end of "Fury of the Gods" getting shuffled around the release slate. Far from it.

Before 2020 was finished, "Fury of the Gods" was pushed back even further to June 2, 2023, a date that would've put this "Shazam!" follow-up into the heart of the summer moviegoing season. A little over a year later, "Fury of the Gods" once again had to adjust to a new release date, with the film this time returning to the 2022 holiday season with a December 16, 2022 release date. Finally, "Fury of the Gods" was postponed by three months to March 17, 2023, a date reminiscent of the April launch of its predecessor. The constant movement of where "Fury of the Gods" was going to open is a testament to just how fluid everything is in Hollywood in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Is Shazam 2 the end of Zachary Levi's Shazam? That's...complicated

"Shazam! Fury of the Gods" arrives in movie theaters alongside a tsunami of buzz surrounding what the future of DC Comics film adaptations would look like. A new age of these projects is dawning shepherded by DC Studios heads James Gunn and Peter Safran, with the duo being especially concerned with launching a variety of new films based on characters like Superman and Batman. Most of these figures are set to be portrayed by brand-new actors, with much of the promise of this new age of DC storytelling being all the exciting fresh qualities it can offer audiences.

That development leaves it more than questionable as to whether or not there's room for Zachary Levi's Shazam to still exist in this new status quo for DC characters on film. Safran has previously made it clear that already-existing DC performers can show up in new DC properties, though this doesn't mean everybody from the DC Extended Universe days will be transitioned over. David F. Sandberg noted on Twitter that the likelihood of Levi's Shazam showing up in future DC projects would hinge on the box office haul for "Fury of the Gods." While it's far from hopeless for "Shazam!" fans to see this character factor into the next stage of DC storytelling, there's still a ton of uncertainty surrounding this character's cinematic future.