Creating coherent, cohesive cinematic universes is the newest trend in Hollywood, but it is a difficult and daunting task. Right now Marvel is making it look easy. So easy that nearly every other studio is attempting to follow in their footsteps. And it's not limited to comic-book properties. Everyone is playing catch-up in cinematic universe building, but creating universes isn't easy.
It means picking a thematic approach and distilling its essence down. For Marvel that fundamental essence seems to be FUN. From Iron Man through to Guardians of the Galaxy, fun would be the number one descriptor most fans would use. It's from this base that Marvel has the freedom to step outside the box with Captain America: The Winter Soldier (more in line with a a spy thriller).
At the moment it appears that DC's approach, and the essence of their universe will be EPIC. As seen with Man of Steel, the initial stories will be told on a grand scale, befitting their view of their properties as the pantheon of comics. There can be no doubt that Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice will be epic. And the expansion of their cinematic universe will follow suit. But 2019 will offer DC the opportunity to flip the script on the serious epic tone of their established universe.
By now you must be asking yourself how does Harry Potter fit into this (besides the obvious)?
At it's essence, the Harry Potter films are about the love of and belief in magic that all children have. FUN. It's about wish fulfillment: a young boy bestowed with a magical way out of the harsh realities of his life.
DC/WB should use the Harry Potter franchise as a template for the tone of their Shazam film. Copy the tone, the whimsy, the FUN that comes with a young boy being granted the pinnacle of magical endowments: a spell that when spoken turns him into a superhero! Their film should also be influenced by the dark and dangerous undercurrent that flows throughout the HP films, but the fun of being a magical superhero must be prominent.
Add to it that the Shazam and HP characters align in similar roles:
- Billy Batson = Harry Potter
- Freddie Freeman and Mary Batson = Ron and Hermione
- Wizard Shazam = Dumbledore
- Sabbac = Voldermort
- Black Adam = Professor Snape
If played correctly, Shazam could be the film that brings the FUN to the DCCU (DC Cinematic Universe) after four years of serious big screen superhero epics. Toby Emmerich, president of New Line Cinema (a subsidiary of WB), addressed the tone of the film:
It feels to me like Shazam will have a tone unto itself...It’s a DC comic, but it’s not a Justice League character, and it’s not a Marvel comic. The tone and the feeling of the movie will be different from the other range of comic book movies.
[SHAZAM] will have a sense of fun and a sense of humor. But the stakes have to be real.
A little fun goes a long way.