Next year, DC Comics will bring a Philly-based superhero to the big screen.
The trailer for Shazam! premiered at San Diego Comic-Con over the weekend, where attendees got a first look at the upcoming DC Extended Universe project. Directed by David Sandberg, the film follows young orphan Billy Batson, played by Asher Angel, as he gains powers that allow him to transform into a full-grown adult superhero named Shazam, who is played by Zachary Levi.
Batson, as the trailer shows, lives in Philadelphia, where one day, a fateful ride on the El leads him to the lair of a wizard, who imbues Batson with his own superpowers after searching for a suitable candidate. It's a quick glimpse, but in the trailer, we can see that Batson was on his way to 30th Street Station during that life-changing moment:
There's even a SEPTA map on the train to drive the Philly aspect home:
Philadelphians, however, will notice that the SEPTA logo is all wrong, and the subway cars colors seem off. That's because while the film is set here in Philly, it was filmed mostly in Toronto. So rather than the familiar blue and silver of a SEPTA El car, what we see in the trailer is the red and white of a Toronto Transit Commission subway car.
Though, to be fair, we do get a pretty nice Center City skyline shot to kick the trailer off:
Despite its current local setting, Shazam! has not always taken place in Philly. First developed in 1939, the character Shazam was originally known as Captain Thunder, and shortly thereafter, Captain Marvel. Writer Bill Parker and artist C.C. Beck first developed the story, and originally set it in New York City, which was later changed to Fawcett City, after publisher Fawcett Comics.
In 1953, Fawcett retired the title, due in part to a copyright lawsuit from DC Comics that alleged the Captain Marvel hero was a ripoff of Superman. By 1972, DC Comics licensed Captain Marvel and related characters from Fawcett, and started their own run of the story called Shazam!, thanks to a similarly-named Captain Marvel character established by Marvel Comics in 1967.
All that time, Billy Batson remained a a Fawcett City native. That is, until the 2012 reboot of Shazam! by writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank, which placed the young orphan on the streets of Philadelphia.
The Shazam! film takes much of inspiration from Johns and Frank's story, including Batson being moved from foster home to foster home, as well as Batson's best friend, Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer). Even the character's suit, as Den of Geek notes, comes from Johns and Frank's work.
The film follows Batson on his adventures as Shazam, who has powers like the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlaz, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury. Take the first letter from each of those mythological characters' names, and you get SHAZAM, the phrase that summons Batson's powers.
According to a synopsis, those powers eventually lead Batson to a showdown with his arch-nemesis, Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, who was originally created by Captain Marvel creators Parker and Beck. An evil scientist, Sivana, played in the film by Mark Strong, was a candidate to become Shazam, but wasn't chosen. Instead, Sivana began to pursue accessing magic through science, and Shazam must stop him from gaining similar powers.
Shazam! is currently set for a April 5, 2019 release. The film is the second Philly-related movie to debut a trailer at San Diego Comic-Con followed by M. Nighy Shyamalan's Glass, which debuted Friday:
In addition, Disenchantment — the new Netflix show from Simpsons' mastermind Matt Groening — features the voice of Wayne's own Broad City star Abbi Jacobson.
Jacobson is the voice of protagonist Bean, an alcoholic princess who makes her way through Dreamland with friends Elfo (Nat Faxon) and Luci (Eric Andre), a demon. Expect plenty of imps, ogres, and trolls and the series rolls on.
In addition to Jacobson, Disenchantment also features voice work from industry legends like John DiMaggio (Bender on Futurama and Jake the Dog from Adventure Time), Billy West (Philip J. Fry, Professor Farnsworth and others from Futurama), and Tress MacNeille (Mom from Futurama and Agnes Skinner from The Simpsons, among others).