Zachary Levi booked for ‘Shazam!’ lead

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Actor Zachary Levi is well known for comedic action series “Chuck”. Image: AFP/Joe Klamar

United States actor Zachary Levi played the lead in action comedy “Chuck” and will now take the headline role in DC Comics movie “Shazam!” expected in 2019.

Best known as the face of state secrets in the comedy drama “Chuck”, Zachary Levi is the latest addition to the DC Extended Universe, joining the roster of actors who appear in both DC and Marvel superhero movies.

Having played Asgardian swordsman Fandral in both “Thor: The Dark World” and November’s imminent “Thor: Ragnarok” for Marvel Studios, Zachary Levi will take on the title role in “Shazam!” for DC Films.

Set for an April 2019 release with “Lights Out” and “Annabelle: Creation” director David F. Sandberg at its helm, “Shazam!” fits into a fictional universe already populated by Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, as well as Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg, all of whom appear in mid-November ensemble “Justice League”.

The comic book version of Shazam is usually depicted as a young teen, Billy Batson, who is entrusted with supernatural powers and, upon the utterance of a magic word, can transform into a brainy, brave, strong and fast-flying superhero. The resulting character, known as Captain Marvel, has been both an ally and an occasional rival to Superman.

Functionally, the pair share many of the same powers, and the Shazam hero was in fact created in response to Superman’s commercial popularity before it eventually became part of the DC family. In comparison to the Man of Steel, the Shazam hero has more of a comedic edge, aligning well with Levi’s reputation for action and comedy in “Chuck”.

Levi played computer technician and inadvertent repository of classified information, Chuck Bartowski, over five seasons of Warner Bros. TV series “Chuck”.

He co-starred as Flynn Rider in Disney’s adaptation of the European fairy tale Rapunzel, “Tangled”; played the title role in mini-series “Tiny Commando”; and was involved in the superhero series “Heroes Reborn”; the episodic comedy “Telenovela”; and the historical crime drama “Alias Grace”.

DC’s Captain Marvel is distinct from Marvel Entertainment’s female Captain Marvel, who has her own movie set for a March 2019 debut. JB

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