Coming in 2009, directed by Peter Segal (Link).
Who is He?
Shazam! is actually just the name of the comic book itself, not the character. Before you mock our punctuation, we'd like to explain that the name actually contains that exclamation point, a precedent followed only in the early '80s by that short-pant wearing duo of fancy boy-meat Wham! The character's name is really Captain Marvel, making it one of the very few comic books not named after the central character, but rather after the made up word he yells to gain superpowers.
Captain Marvel was essentially the generic brand Superman. The editors at DC needed another success like Superman, and decided to ape Captain Marvel nearly exactly. Captain Marvel is to Superman what GoBots are to Transformers, what Power Rangers are to Voltron, or what Cracked magazine is to MAD magazine. They just took Superman, dressed him in your grandfather's pajamas, paid a sexual deviant to write his back story and watched the cash roll in.
The origin of Shazam! is that young Billy Batson, a 12-year-old homeless newsboy, follows a mysterious stranger into a secret subway tunnel and boards an empty train that takes him to the lair of a wizard who gives him the secret word "Shazam!" The word is an acronym for Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury who all lend their respective powers to whoever yells the word with the least amount of shame.
Yes, you've read correctly, Captain Marvel in all of that skin-tight clothing, with his rippled muscles and dangling package is actually a 12-year-old boy who, thanks to a secret magic word he learned only by talking to strangers and following them into abandoned subway tunnels, has the amazing ability to instantly transform into the legal age of consent.
Previous Notable Appearances on Film:
Behold the glory of the live-action Shazam! TV show that aired in the mid-'70s. All the creepiness of the premise is on full display, as young Billy and his middle-aged male companion cross the country in their RV. Also, the Greek Gods appear to be represented by stationery cardboard cutouts.
Why Fanboys Are Excited:
The Rock is attached to play the villain, a likable enough actor who was seems genetically designed specifically to be in comic book movies. It's not a bad role, either. If you take away almost everything ridiculous that doesn't work about Captain Marvel, you have his antithesis and mortal enemy, Black Adam. Not to worry, though, sensitive readers, Black Adam is not a racist caricature of a black man that embodies everything evil. The "Black" only refers to his dark soul and corrupted nature. He's actually an Arab.
The script is being written by William Goldman, John August, and Bryan Goluboff whose individual past efforts have included Big Fish, The Basketball Diaries, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Princess Bride. So, there's some real, actual writing people there who can actually write action and character depth at the same time, if given the chance.
There are some themes to explore here, the hero transformation serving as a rescue fantasy for a boy abandoned by his parents and society in general. Maybe this film can explore some of the emotional complexities of the superhero that were so clumsily handled in Superman Returns.
Why Fanboys Will be Disappointed:
First of all ...
Also, these generic-brand rip offs only make sense if the original is doing monster business. That's not the case with Superman, though, whose last film was greeted with a thundering "meh." Here, you have a character with all the problems of Superman (namely, the all-powerful invincibility that makes him impossible to identify with), only without the familiarity and with a foppish gold sash around his waist.