Calgary Expo: Shazam! turns the DC superhero experience into something a little bit brighter

Zachary Levi talks about Shazam!, who would win in a fight between Shazam and Capt. Marvel, and franchise-building

Zachary Levi brings a sense of humour to his role as a teen orphan transformed into a hero

Zachary Levi as Shazam!, a teenage orphan who transforms into a superhero called Shazam! Levi appears at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo this weekend (Calgary Expo)

Zachary Levi, the star of Shazam!, spoke to David Gray on the Calgary Eyeopener Thursday about the shifting shape of the superhero movie, DC versus (Captain) Marvel, and other stuff. Levi is in town for the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo, which starts Thursday at BMO Centre on the Stampede Grounds.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length

Q: I'm intrigued by your character here, in Shazam! How much did you have to channel your inner 15-year-old?

A: Fortunately my inner 14,15 year-old never really went away, so I was just kind of channeling a lot of myself in that part. I've tried to always maintain those things that keep us young, whether it's imagination, being silly or having fun. I've always tried to foster those things.

 That's a much easier thing to do when you're living out your dreams and my dreams have always been since I was a little kid to be a superhero — it was all just a bunch of wish fulfillment.

Q: This film looks like fun and with all due respect if you don't mind my saying so, that's going to shock a lot of DC movie types, who are used to DC superhero movies being dark and kind of serious. 

A: There was no big deciding factor of, 'oh let's go do it differently.' The beautiful thing over at DC is that they really are empowering filmmakers to make the film that they believe is the right film to make and do right by it.

For example, Batman is a darker, more brooding, more serious intense world in the comic books. Shazam! is about a 14 year-old foster kid who gets this magical ability to become this superhero.

It was just, let's do right by what this story is and tell the best version of this that we can. It just happens to come out with a good bit more let's say levity than in some other DC franchise films — but they all work was still within the same [hero] universe.

Zachary Levi photographed in the Entertainment Weekly portrait studio at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con on July 22, 2018. Levi, in town for the Calgary Expo, said his favourite celebrity encounter at a comic con was running into rock star Alice Cooper (Photographed by: Ben Watts)

Q: So you have to help me with one more thing and I am sorry about the confusion. But Shazam! was Captain Marvel when I was a kid. Captain Marvel now is a whole other movie and it's a she.

So who are you?

A:  It really kind of depends on who you ask. The truth is I am still Captain Marvel. As is Brie Larson as Carol Danvers in the Marvel Universe. That's also a Captain Marvel.

Q: Do you ever worry that Brie Larson could kick your butt in real life?

A: I've actually known her for a long time. We had a lot of mutual friends and you know, in the comics or in the movies, that we're never going to meet, because we inhabit two completely different universes. But I think it's all fun to just hypothesize and think about. You know this character and that character, if they ever met, who would win in a fight?

Q: Is this the start of a Shazam! franchise do you think?

A: I hope so. Yeah. the first movie we've done pretty darn well and everybody all the bosses are very happy and they've already greenlit Henry Gayden our incredible writer to write a sequel, so I think the game plan is to keep making more of these as long as people keep going and seeing them and I'm stoked to do it. I mean it's such an incredibly fun role to play.

Q: Now that you are entrenched in the superhero world, is there anyone there at Comic Expo that you'd really like to meet?

A: The last convention I went to Alice Cooper came up to me like straight up walked up to me and said 'Hey man, congrats on the movie. Great great job.' And well, I just lost it. 

Alice Cooper! I felt like Mike Myers and Dana Carvey in Wayne's World, like 'I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy!'  It was so weird. So moments like that — I just look forward to that,  they're so lovely and beautiful.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener


Stephen Hunt

Digital Writer

Stephen Hunt is a digital writer at the CBC in Calgary. Email:


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?