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Set Visit: Everything we learned from the set of DCEU's Shazam!

Last April I visited the set of Warner Bros. next solo effort superhero film, SHAZAM! which finds Zachary Levi portraying the titular character in superhero form with Asher Angel playing his 14-year-old alter ego, Billy Batson. Joining the cast is Mark Strong as the villain, Dr. Sivana, Jack Dylan Glazer as Billy's best friend Freddy Freeman and Djimon Hounsou as the mysterious Wizard. The film was shot on location in Toronto, Canada, which doubles as Philadelphia where the film takes place (on Earth, anyway). We visited the sets for both Rock of Eternity, which was built on a soundstage, and a full outdoor winter carnival built in a parking lot that plays in the film's finale. With so much detail tossed our way in the span of a day, here are the highlights and main takeaways of what we learned from interviews, locations and footage shown during our visit.

Warning: Mild Spoilers Ahead!

- The story takes place within the larger DC universe, so Shazam!, Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman and Aquaman all exist in Billy Batson's world. Expect plenty of nods to various pieces from the larger DCEU to pop up in the film.

- On numerous occassions SHAZAM! is revealed to be basically the movie BIG, but with superpowers.

- The word SHAZAM is actually an acronym for the the six immortal elders the comprise each of it's letters, which represent an ability or power that you obtain when you have the power of Shazam. S stands for the wisdom of Solomon, H stands for the strength of Hercules, A stands for the stamina of Atlas, Z for the power of Zeus, A for the courage of Achilles, and M for the speed and flight of Mercury, making up the full magical might of SHAZAM!

- Zachary Levi initially turned down even auditioning for the role of Shazam! as he figured they were looking for someone bigger or more superhero like. After being approached a second time, he decided to give it a shot. He did a screen test and was hired to take on the role from there.

- The story draws on aspects from Geoff Johns' New 52 run in the comics, as well as other key elements from both the original Fawcett Comics and long line of DC tales from over the last half century.

- Shazam's costume is made up of elements from his various incarnations, including the Fawcett comics and New 52 versions with the filmmakers choosing specific elements from different eras to make up the overall look.

- Director David Sandberg says the film isn't an outright comedy, nor is it dark and gritty, likening it to 80's classics like Ghostbusters, Back to the Future and The Goonies.

- Shazam! will begin with a flashback to the 1970s, showing Dr. Thaddeus Sivana as a boy, living with his very wealthy family in a mansion, but being bullied and harrassed by them as well. Sivana carries a Magic 8 Ball around with him, which is an important item to him.

- The origin of The Wizard and the Rock of Eternity will be explained, as will the Seven Deadly Sins, which are glimpsed there. All are key elements to the overall story in Shazam!

- In addition, the origin of why Dr. Sivana's eye is the way it is will be explained and will also be an important factor to the events in the film.

- Mark Strong's performance as Dr. Sivana will be a "cool and confident" bad guy with "a lot of villain swag" and an appearance based off of the New 52 storyline. As the audience will have a great amount of detail in his backstory and understanding of his motivations, you may find yourself almost rooting for him at times.

- Billy Batson begins as a young kid in Philadelphia whose been skipping from foster home to foster home, convinced his real biological family is out there and he just needs to find them. He has a rebellious spirit, but is also filled with great potential. He’s placed into a new group home and is greeted with a diverse group of kids all living together. 

- The group family has a catchphrase they use to signify everyone working to support each other, which is "All Hands on Deck". Perhaps something that will pop up later on in the film? We'll see.

- Jack Dylan Grazer plays Freddy Freeman, a superhero expert who collects all kinds of superhero memorabilia. Freddy suffers from a disability that causes him to walk with a crutch, which makes him think Superman is the ultimate hero as he'd love to have the ability to fly.

- While running from some bullies one day, Billy is summoned by The Wizard to the Rock of Eternity, where he's chosen as the new champion because he is pure of heart and strong of spirit - and there's a bigger threat on the horizon that needs his attention.

- The Rock of Eternity set was built in-studio and features statue versions of the Seven Deadly Sins (as seen in the recently-released TV Spot), as well as a fully-lit lightning bolt and other light-up props around it. The rock formations were based on formations in and around Arizona and the hieroglyphics were based on actual Egyptian heiroglyphics.

- Once Billy has the power of Shazam! he turns to Freddy to help him discover his abilities as he has no other way of finding out. They perform a bunch of tests to find out his full potential and have a number of run ins that test his abilities, even recording and uploading some of his feats and putting them online, making him a bit of a celebrity. 

- Dr. Sivana essentially wants the Shazam! magical powers for himself and has very specific goals once he gets them and will go through any means necessary to get ahold of them.

- Shazam eventually begins to get a hold on his powers and begins to learn why he was chosen to have them, particularly when he saves a group of people in a bus about to fall off an overpass.

- There will be an epic battle at a shopping mall, particularly inside a toy store, where Shazam! and Dr. Sivana will battle, learning for the first time the scope of each other's powers.The Christmastime setting was purposeful, as director David Sandberg wanted it to highlight family and finding your family, particularly as it pertains to Billy Batson and the other foster kids in the film.

- The finale will take place at a winter carnival, which brings together Shazam!, Dr. Sivana and a number of surprises that encapsulate the entirety of the story. The winter carnival set was built from scratch in an actual outdoor lot, lending to the practical aspects of the film.

There's much more from our set visit to come, as many reveals aren't ready to be shared just yet, but if you're hungry for more, check out the links below to dive deeper into the magic of SHAZAM!

SHAZAM! strikes theaters on April 5th, 2019!

FOR MORE FROM OUR SHAZAM! SET VISIT:

- Zachary Levi on his role as SHAZAM! and how he got it

- Mark Strong on making Dr. Sivana an iconic villain

- David Sandberg, Jack Dylan Glazer and Asher Angel talk SHAZAM!

Source: JoBlo.com

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