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How the Shazam! cast should really look

Why so serious? It's a question associated with DC's most iconic villain, and one that fans of the comics have been asking Warner Bros. since the inception of the DC Extended Universe. The studio's answer is Shazam!, a movie that has quite literally been marketed on the fact that is isn't taking itself very seriously. Warner Bros. will take a step back from the somber tone set in the first batch of DCEU movies and embrace the fun side of the genre with the story of Billy Batson, the teenage foster kid who becomes a fully grown superhero at will.

James Wan's smash hit Aquaman introduced some vibrancy to DC's bleak onscreen universe in 2018, but prior to that, the color palette had pretty much matched the mood. Dark hues dominated, and some of the bright costumes that our favorite heroes wore in the comics were being dulled down to match. "The lighting is not good," Vanity Fair said in its review of much-maligned team-up movie Justice League. "The costumes are not fun."

Shazam! will remind DC fans what primary colors look like, with the titular character's suit a bright, eye-popping red. We know from the trailers and promo material that Shazam's costume is going to be colorful, but is it comic book accurate? This is how the titular hero and the rest of the Shazam! cast should really look.

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Zachary Levi is Shazam

Originally called Captain Marvel, the character we now know as Shazam was created in 1939 by artist, CC Beck, and writer, Bill Parker. DC was forced to change the name of the hero after it failed to utilize him for over a decade and Marvel crept in to copyright the Captain Marvel moniker. From that moment on, the World's Mightiest Mortal has gone by the title Shazam, the word that Billy Batson has to utter when he wants to transform into the super-powerful, super-stacked hero pictured above. As you can see, the costume crafted for leading man Zachary Levi was heavily inspired by the comics.

The character has bulked up quite a bit in the many years since his debut, but the Captain Marvel/Shazam getup hasn't really changed all that much. His predominantly red suit is offset by a lightening bolt insignia across the chest, which at present is an electric blue color in the comics. For the movie, costume designer Leah Butler went with a yellow lightening bolt, a throwback to the character's original outfit. The collar, meanwhile, is Greek influenced, a nod to the gods that grant Shazam his wide array of powers. "The pattern on [the suit fabric] is also taken from Greek and Roman," Butler told ScreenRant. "There's also that sort of Greek key pattern as well on the cape."

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Asher Angel is Billy Batson

He and Shazam are essentially the same character, so it's no surprise that Billy Batson's look hasn't changed a lot over the years, either. The original iteration was sent to live with his wicked uncle Ebenezer after the death of his parents. Ebenezer encourages the boy to steal for a living, but Batson refuses. The latest, Prime Earth version of Batson doesn't have the same moral compass to begin with; he turns cold and cruel after losing his parents, only becoming good after the Wizard bestows the powers of the Gods on him.

The movie version (played by Disney actor Asher Angel) is something of a cross between the two — he's run away from several foster homes but isn't so cruel that he won't defend his "fake family" in a fight. In fact, jumping in to rescue his new brother from bullies is seemingly what makes the Wizard choose him as champion. It seems as though Angel's take on Batson will warm up considerably as the movie progresses, going from scowls to smiles as he becomes a hero inside and out. But does the Andi Mack star fit the bill? Judging by what we've seen in the trailers, he ticks all the right boxes.

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Jack Dylan Grazer is Freddy Freeman

The disabled kid that Batson rescues from a beatdown in the first Shazam! trailer is Freddy Freeman, who first appeared in 1941's Whiz Comics #25. In the original story, Freeman is left crippled in one leg after the terribly outdated Captain Nazi murders his grandpa and leaves him for dead. Shazam rescues the boy by temporarily transferring some of his powers to him, turning Freeman into Captain Marvel Jr., later known as Shazam Jr. We'll get to see a version of Shazam Jr. onscreen according to reports, but don't expect to see Captain Nazi turning up.

From everything we've seen so far, Freeman will already be relying on his crutch when he meets Batson. As part of the same foster family, the two boys will form a bond over the course of the film, and at some stage we're probably going to see Jack Dylan Grazer's character transform into an adult hero (according to ScreenRant, Adam Brody has been cast in the role of Shazam Jr.). The most recent version of Freeman is known as a "fixer" at his school, someone who talks a lot despite not really being able to back it up. We know from his previous roles that Grazer has the gift of the gab, and he's definitely the right shape and size for Freeman.

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Mark Strong is Doctor Sivana

Mark Strong has played more than one formidable bad guy in his career, though he'll have to go full-on evil genius if he wants to do Doctor Thaddeus Sivana justice. The bald super-villain has been around as long as Shazam himself, making his debut in the 1940s as a brilliant but mad scientist. His origin story is a little wild (he moved to the planet Venus after his ideas were continually rejected), but the version of Sivana that the comic book readers of today are familiar with isn't quite as crazy. In fact, he's almost a sympathetic figure.

Sivana's main objective is saving his sick family. After he exhausts all scientific outlets, he turns to magic, seeking out the Wizard's powers in the hope that they'll allow him to keep his family alive and well. He doesn't get the powers of Shazam like Billy Batson does, but he ends up with an eye that can see magic — that's why Strong has one blue eyeball in all the promo materials. He was a scrawny, buck-toothed man in the early artwork, but over time Sivana became more imposing, making the hard-as-nails Strong perfect for the part.

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Djimon Hounsou is The Wizard

We've already touched on the role of the Wizard, but we've yet to get a clear look at this vitally important character in the trailers. The Wizard (who passed the name Shazam onto Batson along with his powers) has been kept in the shadows, perhaps to keep the reveal a surprise, or maybe because the visual effects are still being fine-tuned. Because of this it's hard to say how closely Djimon Hounsou's version will match up with the Wizard from the comics, but the early signs are positive — you can just about make out his tatty grey beard; he's carrying the mystic staff that he uses to channel the power of the gods; he has the famous lightning bolt on his chest.

We don't know how involved Hounsou will be, but there's more than enough backstory to extend his screen time beyond the passing-of-the-torch scene we've already seen in trailers. Before he became a powerful wizard, he was a young shepherd named Jebediah. After his parents are murdered, Jebediah pleads to a variety of gods, six of whom decide to grant him powers akin to their own. It is he who is responsible for the birth of Black Adam, a Shazam! anti-hero who will (hopefully) be portrayed by Dwayne Johnson down the line.

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Grace Fulton is Mary Bromfield

Shazam! casting director Rich Delia knew exactly what he was getting with Jack Dylan Grazer, having previously recruited him to play Eddie Kaspbrak in the 2017 reboot of Stephen King's It. Going off looks alone, Delia has rounded out the so-called Shazam Family (previously the Marvel Family) pretty well, bringing together a group of young actors that really do look like their comic book counterparts. Like Grazer, actress Grace Fulton had a connection to the production; she appeared in director David F. Sandberg's Annabelle: CreationThis is about more than just favoritism, however.

Fulton is older (she's actually in her early 20s) and more experienced than she looks — in fact, she has plenty of TV work under her belt, with stints in Ghost WhispererBones, and The Mystery of Natalie Wood, in which she played the young Natalie Wood. In Shazam! she's portraying Mary Bromfield, who becomes known as Lady Shazam after her foster brother Billy Batson shares his powers (the role of Lady Shazam has reportedly been given to Michelle Borth). The first iteration of Mary was actually Billy's twin sister, though neither of them knew it — the Batson babies were cruelly separated after the death of their parents.

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Andi Osho is Ms. Glover

Like Grace Fulton, Andi Osho is an actress who is already familiar with the Shazam! director. When she sat down for an interview with Essence, Osho revealed that David F. Sandberg wanted her to be in his big superhero movie as a nod to his critically acclaimed debut. "I was delighted to be offered this role by the director," Osho told the magazine. "We'd worked together before on Lights Out, so he knew I was a safe pair of hands. The cool thing about it is he recently revealed on Twitter that my character is his way of tying his debut, Lights Out, to the DC Universe. The guy's got game."

Osho is taking on the role of Ms. Glover, Billy Batson's care worker. As you can tell from the split image, she really doesn't look anything like the Mrs. Glover from the comics, but in this instance that's probably a good thing. Much like Marvel Studios did with the MCU version of Aunt May, Warner Bros. wanted a younger actress in the role, someone who could believably deal with foster kids as challenging as Billy Batson on a regular basis. Osho admitted that she wasn't familiar with the source material, but she fit the bill nonetheless.

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Cooper Andrews is Victor Vasquez

In the comics, the foster family that Billy Batson ends up living with go by the name Vasquez, led by protective father Victor. Mrs. Glover had trouble finding a home for the troublesome Batson child for the longest time, but Victor (who grew up an orphan) and his wife (also orphaned) wanted to give him a chance. The onscreen version of Mr. Vasquez will be played by Cooper Andrews, who won the role after impressing on The Walking Dead.

"Andrews became a fan favorite amongst the fans of AMC's hit horror series for his portrayal of Ezekiel's right-hand man Jerry, the battle axe-wielding teddy bear," ComicBook.com reports. "His take on the role was enough to land him a spot in DC's next big super hero blockbuster, Shazam!" Andrews isn't exactly a dead ringer for Vasquez. He doesn't have the reading glasses, he has more facial hair and is a tad chunkier, but what both Andrews and his new DC character both have in abundance is warmth and likability.

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Marta Milans is Rosa Vasquez

Victor Vasquez doesn't do it alone. He and his wife Rosa are very much a team, fostering (and, in the comics, adopting) several children between them, making them the unsung heroes of this story. After paying Billy Batson a visit at his previous foster home in Philadelphia, the kind couple decide to introduce him to their ever-growing family. It isn't an easy transition for Batson, however — he argues with his new family and decides to run away, at which point he's summoned by the Wizard.

The movie version of Rosa will be played by Marta Milans, who was born in beautiful Madrid but learned her craft in New York City — she reportedly graduated from NYU with a double major in Acting and Art History. Unlike her onscreen husband, Cooper Andrews, Milans resembles the character she's been asked to play pretty closely. From the hairstyle and color to the warm and welcoming smile, she's seemingly a perfect fit for the role.

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Ian Chen is Eugene Choi

We're yet to see Ian Chen's version of Eugene Choi in any of the trailers or promo materials, but if you've ever seen Fresh Off the Boat, you already know what to expect. Chen plays super-intelligent mother's boy Evan in the ABC sitcom, led by Constance Wu (Crazy Rich Asians) and Randall Park, who already has a couple of superhero appearances on his résumé (Ant-Man and the Wasp and Aquaman). Chen is one of the show's standouts, and his Shazam! character is remarkably similar in many ways.

Eugene Choi is another member of the Shazam Family. This tech-savvy boy becomes a vital member of the team when Billy Batson decides to share his powers among his peers. Chen looks an awful lot like Choi, and judging from his performance in Fresh Off the Boat, he'll have no trouble pulling the character off. But what about the adult version? The fully-grown, superhero version of Choi is apparently being played by Riverdale and 13 Reasons Why actor Ross Butler. "An actor as recognizable among a teen audience role won't hurt Shazam!'s chances with the whole family," ScreenRant reports.

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Jovan Armand is Pedro Peña

If you thought Grace Fulton and Ian Chen were dead ringers for Mary Bromfield and Eugene Choi, just look at this split image of Jovan Armand and Pedro Peña, another member of the Shazam Family. When the studio put out its casting call for Pedro (using the code name Carlos to throw fans off), it stated that it was looking for a "Hispanic, overweight," and asthmatic fifteen-year-old, who is "very shy and sweet," ComicBook.com reported. Armand answered the call and won the part, but where have you seen him before?

Armand is probably best-known for playing Troy in The Middle, appearing in several episodes of the long-running show between 2015 and 2017. Shazam! will be on a different level from everything he's ever done and will likely boost his profile considerably. This will benefit his career as an actor, but it could also give him a bigger platform to pursue his music — Armand is a rapper with several music videos already on YouTube. The adult version of Peña (who is granted the strength of Hercules by the Wizard) will be played by D.J. Cotrona, the actor who almost played Superman in the canceled Justice League Mortal movie.

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Faithe Herman is Darla Dudley

Last but far from least, we have Darla Dudley, the final member of the Shazam Family. Dudley is being played by the adorable Faithe Herman, who we've already seen a glimpse of in TV spots — apparently she's not very good at keeping secrets. Before the end of Shazam!, Dudley will have her own secret to keep. In the comics, the athletic youngster is gifted with the speed of Mercury, making her super fast and pretty badass when she transforms into an adult.

As a child, however, she's pretty irritating, at least from Billy Batson's point of view. The first time she meets him she greets him with a hug, something the older boy doesn't appreciate. Billy makes her cry when he reminds her that they aren't a real family, though as things proceed the pair actually end up becoming close. Seven-year-old Darla becomes a 14-year-old when she transforms in the comics, but the filmmakers appear to have forgone that and made the superpowered version of the character an adult like all the others. She will reportedly be played by Meagan Good (Think Like a Man).

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Natalia Safran is Venus Sivana

We've already mentioned the motives that drive the movie's villain, Doctor Sivana, and they don't bode well for his wife. Sivana went looking for the Rock of Eternity (the lair of the Wizard) so he could learn more about magic and potentially cure his dying family. He has kids in the comics (the fantastically named Beautica Sivana being the most memorable) but as far as we can tell they won't be appearing in the Shazam! movie. The doc's other half, Venus, will.

Natalia Safran has been cast as the mad scientist's wife, and it's not hard to understand why. The singer and actress has the perfect look for the part, bringing some mysterious beauty to Venus Sivana. Oddly, Safran has already appeared in the DC Extended Universe as another character: Queen Rina in Aquaman. That's right — Safran played the queen of the fisherman kingdom in James Wan's underwater epic, though she was covered in so much makeup and CGI that the studio is banking on nobody taking too much notice of that fact.