From everything we've heard and seen in these past few weeks, the DCEU isn't in a great place, but one movie Warner Bros. still plans to be part of its future is Shazam! Despite being seen as one of the studio's biggest gambles, the film –– directed by Annabelle: Creation's David F. Sandberg –– has had seemingly a smooth development process once the ball got rolling. But with us being two years away from the premiere, there's understandably little we know about the story. One popular question going around the fan community is whether Billy Batson, Shazam's alter ego, will be played by a child.
Batson is most commonly known as a kid in the comics, but there have been adaptations that depict the character as a more mature individual, if not an adult. The #DCEU isn't above making some considerable changes to a superhero's mythology (looking at you, Jimmy Olsen), so which route would the studio go with for their new superhero's alter ego? Well, we finally have an answer.
Worry Not, Billy Batson Will Be A Child
#DavidFSandberg recently sat down for an interview with Collider to discuss his future in the entertainment business –– mainly his new responsibility to shape the DCEU's next big screen adventure. While explaining his experience working with children in films like Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation, he confirmed that Billy Batson will be a kid:
"Overall, I've been working with kids in both my movies to my success and there will be kids in 'Shazam!' and the main character is this kid who becomes an adult."
The director was then asked whether he ever considered casting an adult as #BillyBatson and then use CGI to de-age him and make him look like a kid. While praising Marvel's various successful de-aging efforts, Sandberg stated he wouldn't do that. As he put it, it's just too much unnecessary trouble to make one of your main characters a CGI creation, as opposed to just casting a kid:
"Yeah, I wouldn’t want to do that. That seems like way too much of a hassle. So I think it’s just kind of best to have a kid and an adult [...] They’ve done quite well, I mean, Kurt Russell was in the latest 'Guardians' was really well made I thought, but I think there's a limit to it as well. You probably can’t do someone to be a kid. Why create that hassle for yourself?
He has a point. Now, some may be worried by the prospect of hiring a child actor to carry such an important part in such a big superhero movie, but...
Billy Batson Being A Child Will Be A Great Thing For 'Shazam'!
As a longtime fan of the comics, trust me when I tell you that Billy Batson being a kid is a fundamental aspect of Shazam's mythology. One of the best things about reading the classic comics was their inherent wish-fulfillment quality: A lightning bolt comes down from the heavens and transforms a scrawny kid into one of the world's most powerful individuals. What kid wouldn't have loved to do that? Fortunately, that aspect is being used for the film, as Sandberg revealed last month, during an interview with The Toronto Sun:
"The big attraction for me with that character is the fact that every kid dreams of being Superman, right? I mean, I certainly did, and Billy Batson is a kid that gets that chance."
Now, there may be some folks out there worried by a child actor bogging down the film, but that shouldn't be a concern. All we have to do to get an idea of the quality of acting that Shazam! will have is look at Annabelle: Creation. Sandberg's horror film was pretty much carried by the child actresses, and they did an incredible job. In fact, I'm still creeped out by Talitha Bateman's performance.
All Warner Bros. and Sandberg need to make the casting work is find a charismatic young actor who can sell everything that makes Batson such a compelling character, including his inherent tragedy and incredible courage. Overall, I can't wait to see the DCEU's take on #BillyBatson.
Shazam! is expected to fly into theaters sometime in 2019.
How do you feel about Billy Batson being an actual kid in Shazam!? Would you have liked to see an older actor take on the role? Let me know in the comments!