After the success of “The Avengers” in 2012, pretty much every studio in Hollywood was scrambling to capitalize on the power of the shared universe formula (R.I.P. Dark Universe). With DC Comics being the longtime rival of Marvel Comics, the DC Extended Universe was a chief target of copycat accusations, as “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” brought together the heavy-hitters of the DC universe after just one previous movie (“Man of Steel”), while also setting up an even bigger superhero team-up movie, “Justice League.”
Those plans have since, in the words of new DC Studios architect James Gunn, gotten a little bit “f***ed up.” The DCEU is now getting a soft reboot as the DC Universe, and “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” is in an awkward position: a legacy project releasing in the pre-reboot grey area, where the DCEU is dying off and has yet to rise from the ashes as the DCU. (That will happen in “The Flash,” courtesy of a multiverse shake-up).
Zachary Levi’s Shazam does have the benefit of existing beyond the inner circle of DC heroes; being a dorky outsider is kind of his brand, and Levi himself has described his character as “the Deadpool of DC.” But these early numbers don’t bode well for Shazam surviving the DCEU event horizon, and continuing to be a part of the revamped comic book universe in the years to come.
“Shazam! Fury of the Gods” is in theaters now.