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Shazam Director David F. Sandberg Nearly Directed A Very Different Superhero Property

Swedish filmmaker David F. Sandberg is best known by audiences for helming the 2019 superhero film, "Shazam!," the seventh film in the DC Extended Universe. However, what many aren't aware of is Sandberg's near involvement in another comic book property. Before entering the field for the DC superhero character, Sandberg was best known for the variety of horror short films posted on YouTube under his channel, ponysmasher. He made the jump into the feature film realm with "Lights Out" and "Annabelle: Creation." Sandberg would then take the dive into blockbuster superhero cinema with "Shazam!," which opened with great success. The film made a hearty return at the box office, garnering over $366 million worldwide (via Box Office Mojo). It also was a hit with critics, hailing a 90% fresh Tomatometer score on Rotten Tomatoes

The fun, light-hearted antics of "Shazam!" might seem to be a major departure from Sandberg's previous short and feature film efforts that were centered around the horror genre. However, it's clear that he was able to translate the colorful world of "Shazam!" onto the big screen in a satisfying way for fans and critics alike. Nevertheless, it makes one wonder what Sandberg's horror-oriented mind could craft if the director had the chance to blend it with a comic book property of some kind. As intriguing as this sounds, we were not too far off from receiving a possible realization of this. 

Sandberg nearly directed Venom

On a recent question-and-answer session on David F. Sandberg's Instagram, the "Shazam!" director shared how he was handed the opportunity to helm the Sony comic book film "Venom," but chose to turn it down. When asked by a user if he had worked on any other superhero projects in the past, Sandberg responded, "I read the script for and had a meeting about 'Venom' but I was already going down the path of Shazam and felt that I'd rather do that than pursue 'Venom.' I thought 'Venom' turned out quite good though." While it's hard to imagine "Shazam!" under any other director, "Venom" seems up Sandberg's alley, as its titular character could lend himself a horror-inspired interpretation. 

Released in 2018 and directed by Ruben Fleischer, best known for 2009's "Zombieland" and 2022's "Uncharted," "Venom" follows journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), who becomes host to an alien symbiote that transforms him into the super-powered, monstrous Venom. The film, based on the popular Spider-Man villain, went on to do extremely well financially with a box office gross exceeding $850 million (via Box Office Mojo) despite critically bombing with a 30% Tomatometer score on Rotten Tomatoes. It would garner a sequel in 2021 directed by Andy Serkis. 

"Shazam!" will also be receiving a follow-up in 2023 with "Shazam! Fury of the Gods," with Sandberg slated to return as director (via Deadline).