Shazam! Fury of the Gods – Superheroes with very real and relatable emotions

Shazam! Fury of the Gods’ amped-up action, new worlds, stakes of mythological proportion, a roster of aspirational heroes, exceedingly menacing villains, and a signature brand of humor perfectly tailored to star Zachary Levi made signing on for the David F. Sandberg-directed sequel an easy “yes” even before the script had been penned by writers Henry Gayden and Chris Morgan.

Directed by David F.Sandberg (Shazam!, Annabelle: Creation) and produced by Peter Safran (Aquaman, The Suicide Squad) and written by Henry Gayden (Shazam!, There’s Someone Inside Your House) and Chris Morgan (Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, The Fate of the Furious), based on characters from DC; Shazam! was created by Bill Parker and C.C. Beck.

This insanely action-packed Super Hero sequel brings even more excitement, adventure, and comedy, along with all-new realms, bigger threats, monsters, and mythical creatures to our heroes. marks the supercharged return of Zachary Levi as Shazam, the irreverent yet sincere, wise-cracking teen-turned-DC Super Hero who—along with his Shazamily—must harness their extraordinary superpowers to face off against the Daughters of Atlas.  This trio of fierce Greek goddesses and their monsters will stop at nothing to reclaim their destiny and, oh yeah, destroy the world!

David F. Sandberg takes the story and characters to the next level

He says, “At the end of ‘Shazam!’ we finally introduced the whole family as Super Heroes, but we just got a glimpse of that.  One of the exciting things for me in this movie was exploring more about how they live as teenagers and work as Super Heroes together—and, as you might expect, it’s not always successful.  Like Shazam, they are all still young at heart, some more than others, going through everything kids do.”

However, with all of that, there is still one secret ingredient at the core of the story that Levi believes is the real hook for audiences of all ages.  He reveals, “It’s wish fulfillment!  At some point in our lives, we had dreams of becoming something like a superhero: stronger, faster, braver, or just more heroic in the world.  That’s why comic books exist—these colorful pages full of fantasy, surrealism, and magical realism that we can disappear into.  Mix that with tons of heart and humor and charm, together with David’s direction, the terrific script, our incredible cast, and crew—it all coalesces to create a superhero movie for everyone and just a really entertaining film.”

Zachary Levi as Shazam in New Line Cinema’s action adventure “Shazam! Fury Of The Gods,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Copyright: © 2022 Warner Bros. Ent. All Rights Reserved.  TM & © DC. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Producer Peter Safran also returned, eager to revisit the unique elements that make Shazam, Shazam.  “Because it’s a Shazam movie, it’s going to have that great family dynamic at the core of any Shazam story: the idea that family is about the bond and not necessarily about blood.  So, in the second film, we discover Billy’s got his family now, but the question is: what is he willing to do to keep that family together?”

Gayden and Morgan were tasked with taking the story from the first film into the future and determining where the kids-turned-heroes would be on both sides of their lives.  “What I learned from writing ‘Shazam!’ was that, once we figured out what Billy needed and who he was, who Freddy was—who all of these fun characters were—the story fell into place,” Gayden recalls.  “So, talking with David, Peter, and New Line as we developed the sequel, it was really about trying to honor those characters while determining the honest continuation of Billy, Freddy, and everyone else’s story.”

The beauty of staying true to these characters, Gayden adds, is that “the comedy came very naturally.  As opposed to creating comic situations, it was already there, and we had a lot of room to improvise while we created these massive action sequences and other elements that raised the stakes exponentially higher than in the first film.”

“Sequels can be tricky, but on this one, I had it pretty easy,” Morgan shares.  “Henry Gayden is an amazing writer and had already set the stage.  He wrote the original ‘Shazam!’ film, as well as this one, and I came in just to lend a hand to his already expansive world.  But in terms of raising the stakes of the story, Henry and I discussed that as Billy and the kids grow bigger, the stakes need to grow along with them, and the key is matching the world stakes to their personal ones—so the potential dissolution of Billy’s family is mirrored by the potential loss of humanity’s entire existence at the hands of a trio of ancient Greek goddesses bent on vengeance.  Toss in a horde of mythological critters and a gigantic dragon that emanates fear and you got yourself a movie.  Better grab the popcorn!”

The shifting Shazamily dynamic was not the only new twist that intrigued Sandberg.  “It was also very exciting to bring in these Greek gods, to see where Shazam actually got his powers from, and learn that there are some dangerous adversaries who are not happy that he has them at all.  It creates great potential for a huge battle between gods and superheroes,” the director says.

For Levi, the pairing of Super Heroes and gods was a great fit.  “Greek mythology is found throughout a lot of DC DNA, so I thought it was a great idea and again, when they were just pitching me the idea, I was like, ‘Yes, yes, yes!’  I mean, Shazam has so much Greek god and demigod and titan blood, it made sense that this is a world we would play in at some point.”

The ominous trio of goddesses—Hespera, Kalypso, and Anthea—are played with devilish gravitas by Hollywood heavyweights Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu, and Rachel Zegler, respectively.

Helen Mirren as Hespera and Lucy Liu as Kalypso in New Line Cinema’s action adventure “Shazam! Fury Of The Gods,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Copyright: © 2022 Warner Bros. Ent. All Rights Reserved.  TM & © DC. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Mirren states, “What I loved about the first ‘Shazam!’ film, and why I very happily signed up to be in this one, was the idea of the outcasts at school—the kids who are teased and bullied—are the ones who become the superheroes, who can fly, who can do wonderful things and try to make the planet a better place.  It’s a reflection of our imaginations at that age, and combining that with mythology seemed like a lot of fun.  I think sometimes we forget that thousands of years ago people believed in these gods and goddesses controlling their lives—we call it a myth, but they did believe it, and they were humans like we are.”

Liu, a big fan of the first film, was happy to play such a multifaceted role as Kalypso.  “‘Fury of the Gods’ is sort of a supersized version of the original, which was incredibly entertaining.  You’ll see more of the Shazamily, how they unite to fight these wondrous goddesses—and these goddesses are no joke!  They bring even more color to what was already established in ‘Shazam!’ and I was excited to be a part of it.”

As the youngest sister, Anthea must deal with not one, but two overwhelmingly powerful siblings.  Like Liu, Zegler came to the production well-versed in the universe.  “I love the first ‘Shazam!’ so much that even if I hadn’t gotten this role, I’d still be watching.  It’s fantastic and has so much heart—it’s about family, and the whole idea that as kids we could become the superheroes we dreamed of being.  When I read this script, it captured the same qualities the first one displayed so beautifully and brought in these complex villains as a whole new element.  I loved it instantly.”

“This is a much bigger movie than the first one was,” Sandberg offers.  “We have a bigger sandbox to play in, and we have much bigger effects, which was definitely exciting, and we really go all out with the action and the visuals and the sound in particular.  This is a movie made for the big screen and for big sound and I’m very happy that we’re releasing it in IMAX, Dolby Atmos, and all these premium formats, which is the absolute best way to watch.  I mean, when you have speakers in the ceiling, audiences can hear the thunder and lightning above them, dragons flying around and harpies behind them, breathing down their necks!  You should feel this movie.”

Safran concurs.  “In this film, we go to new places that are only hinted at in the first movie.  We bring in these great new villains and new monsters, all kinds of new threats.  ‘Shazam! Fury of the Gods’ is everything audiences loved about the first movie, just jacked up on steroids.”

Of course, while ramping up the action was key, the filmmakers felt it was equally important to honor those aspects of the first film that worked so well, especially, Sandberg says, “The actors that we have—we got so lucky with the cast in the first movie.  They play a family, but they are also like a family, with Zac, the biggest kid of all, at the heart of it.  It was exciting to return to this world with them, and I think audiences will be excited, too.”

To underline the themes of the story, filmmakers turned to composer Christophe Beck, who says, “Being a fan of the first ‘Shazam!,’ I was thrilled when director David Sandberg invited me to work on ‘Fury of the Gods.’  There’s a beautiful innocence to these characters alongside their heroism, and a real feeling of family in their bond, and the opportunity to capture all that in the score really lit me up.  I wrote a big, bold orchestral score in the grand tradition of classic superhero movies, with a brand-new main theme that works as a theme for both Billy Batson and the team as a whole.  I’m proud and excited to share this film and its music with the world!”

David Sandberg feels that “audiences will be very excited about this movie, because not only do we have these massive set pieces and action and just awesome sets and epic fights,” he says, “but at the core of it, we also have very unique characters with very real and relatable emotions.  When you really care about the characters in a movie, you’re invested in it, and the emotional impact is even stronger.  Plus, you know—dragons, mythical creatures, the fate of the world at stake and a bunch of teenage Super Heroes in charge of saving it?  What more could you ask for?”

DAVID F. SANDBERG (Director) is a renowned Swedish filmmaker based in Los Angeles, known for his wide array of talents across a variety of genres.

Sandberg is the director of the highly anticipated feature Shazam! Fury Of The Gods, the sequel to the original Shazam! The first installment was a massive critical success and a global phenomenon, grossing over $366 million worldwide.

Sandberg is currently in development on his feature Below for Netflix, which will be produced via his newly formed production banner, Mångata, together with his partner Lotta Losten. The couple never strayed far from their genre roots, as they recently created two horror shorts from their home during quarantine: the first, titled Shadowed, and the other, titled Not Alone In Here. These shorts were both released online under Sandberg’s pseudonym “ponysmasher,” and were massive hits. Previously, Sandberg directed Annabelle: Creation, which was the fourth installment in The Conjuring Universe franchise. The film, which was produced by James Wan and Peter Safran, grossed over $306 million worldwide and furthered postured Sandberg’s place as one of the most unconventional genre filmmakers working today.

HENRY GAYDEN (Writer) who wrote the screenplay for the first Shazam!, most recently completed Shazam! Fury Of The Gods.  His first movie was Earth To Echo, which Dave Green directed. Since then, Netflix released his adaptation of the Stephanie Perkins novel There’s Someone Inside Your House, with Patrick Brice directing and James Wan and Shawn Levy producing. He has also written several projects, including The Ghost Army, which Ben Affleck boarded to direct, and an adaptation of The Last Human, based on the popular YA novel by Lee Bacon with Phil Lord & Chris Miller (Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse/The Lego Movie) attached to direct.

CHRIS MORGAN (Writer) recently served as both writer and producer on the big screen Fast & Furious spin-off Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.  Morgan’s credits for the Fast & Furious universe include The Fate of The Furious (writer and producer), Furious 7 (writer and executive producer), Fast & Furious 6 (writer and executive producer), Fast 5 (writer), Fast & Furious (writer), and The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift (writer).  The franchise is Universal Pictures’ most successful, grossing more than $6.6 billion.

Morgan was producer of Bird Box, an adaptation of the critically acclaimed novel.  Released in December 2018, Bird Box was a record-breaking smash for Netflix.  Starring Academy Award winner Sandra Bullock, the film was directed by Academy Award winner Susanne Bier from a script by Academy Award nominee Eric Heisserer.  Other credits for Morgan include writer of Wanted, starring Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy, and creator of the Fox television series Gang Related.  He also served as executive producer on Fast & Furious Spy Racers, the animated Netflix series that ran for six seasons. Morgan launched his company, Chris Morgan Productions, in 2011 with a first-look deal with Universal Pictures.  Upcoming projects for Morgan include Netflix’s Spanish-language spin-off of Bird Box written and directed by Alex and David Pastor, on which he serves as producer, set to release in 2023.  He is currently in production on Red One, a holiday event film for Amazon Studios starring Dwayne Johnson, Chris Evans, and Lucy Liu.  Morgan serves as writer and producer. Currently in feature film development, Morgan is working on the sequels to Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw andBird Box, as well as the film version of Alexandra Andrews’ novel Who is Maud Dixon at Universal, partnered with Amy Pascal.