At a time when the DCEU was being compared unfavorably to the MCU for producing films that were too dour and depressing for general audiences, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Shazam! were the franchise's few bright spots.
Recently, Shazam! lead actor Zachary Levi took to Instagram to celebrate the one-year anniversary of his film's release while expressing his enthusiasm for getting started on the sequel.
"Happy 1st birthday to our "little superhero movie that could". So very grateful for everything this role has brought into my life, and so damn excited to step back into the spandex as soon as we're ready to rock 'n roll again. To everyone out there who continues to believe in and support us, thank you. And if you haven't had a chance to see @shazammovie yet, now is a pretty opportune time to give it a shot, and fill your life with laughter, heart, and joy."
The original Shazam! film was seen as a bit of a crapshoot for Warner Bros. when the project was first announced. It had in its lead Captain Marvel, rebranded as Shazam, a superhero who was largely unfamiliar to general audiences. There were also those who questioned the need for bringing in Shazam when he was similar in powers and nature to Superman.
But the film proved a hit with audiences, creating a superhero narrative within the DCEU that was for the first time actively kid-friendly. Shazam! at its heart was a story about the importance of family and choosing to let people into your lives. The movie told the tale of Billy Batson, a foster kid who resented moving in with a new family and wanted to find his birth mother instead. Billy's quest gets upended when he gets chosen by a wizard to become Earth's new protector.
While the original film saw Billy aka Shazam fight Dr. Sivana, the sequel could see the evil Doctor teaming up with Mister Mind, a supervillain in the body of a caterpillar that was introduced at the end of the first film. Then there is Black Adam, Shazam's arch-enemy from the comics who is getting his own standalone film where Adam is played by Dwayne Johnson.
The stage is set for Shazam going head-to-head with Black Adam somewhere down the road, in addition to appearing in team-up movies with the rest of the Justice League, who were all referenced repeatedly in Shazam!.
At least, that was the plan in the past. With the recent success of Joker, there have been rumors that Warner Bros. intends to move away from the whole shared-universe concept to focus on standalone features. So it is quite possible that Shazam! could become its own franchise, without any connection to the other DC movies. And that would make sense. After all, it is difficult to imagine Billy Batson existing in the same reality as Joaquin Phoenix's Joker, or the grounded version of Batman currently being worked on by Matt Reeves and Robert Pattinson. Zachary Levi's Instargram brought us this good fun.