The DCEU is about to get a truly regal villainess.
Dame Helen Mirren will play the demi-goddess Hespera, the original villainess for the Shazam Fury of the Gods sequel. While details are still tight as to the plot, the addition of Mirren will spark up an already promising film.
For those who missed it, 2019’s Shazam adapted the long-popular character who originated in the now-defunct Fawcett Comics in the 1940s. At one point, the character (then called Captain Marvel) was more popular than Superman.
When Fawcett went bankrupt, the character was purchased by DC Comics, who would publish various series for years but only using the title of “Shazam” due to the Marvel name suddenly used more by their competition.
In the 1970s, a very long and involved legal battle between DC Comics and Marvel over the Captain Marvel name started that would last for decades. In recent years, DC has come to call the character only Shazam.
The movie kept to the comic as young Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is chosen by the wizard Shazam (Djimon Honsou) to have the ancient gods’ powers. By uttering the word “Shazam!” Billy is transformed into a super-powered adult self (Zachary Levi).
The film had Billy aiding his foster family battling the evil Doctor Sivana (Mark Strong), who briefly imbued the Seven Deadly Sins. At the end of the film, Sivana was confronted by Mr. Mind, a telepathic alien caterpillar who declared, “the Seven Realms will soon be ours.”
The addition of Mirren is interesting as the Oscar-winning actress may be making her comic book movie debut but has proven she’s no stranger to Hollywood blockbusters, particularly the Fast and the Furious franchise.
Notable is that Herspera has no comic book counterpart in Shazam lore. The character is described as “the daughter of Atlas.”
In the Shazam comics, Atlas is one of the gods who bestows Billy with his powers (his stamina, to be exact).
The title indicates the movie may play on the various gods who give Billy his abilities which, in order, are the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury.
Mirren joins Rachel Zegler in a mysterious role with reports the pair would play demigod sisters.
The sequel may involve a major moment in the original film. To defeat Sivana, Billy shared his power with his foster family, allowing them to also transform into adult superheroes.
It may be the gods don’t like this power being shared and set up a conflict between them and the Shazam Family. It can also be both sides facing an even greater threat, such as the Monster Society of Evil, a collection of villains led by Sivana and Mr. Mind.
The Shazam sequel’s delays
The film has seen delays in production due to the rescheduling of Hollywood amid the coronavirus pandemic. This moved its original release date from May 2022 to June 2023.
This has caused some concern among fans as a key aspect of the character is switching from a youth to a grown man with his magic word. Asher is currently 18, meaning he may not be as convincing as the teenaged Billy if the production is delayed more.
Once more, David F. Sandberg is directing from a screenplay by Henry Gayden. There is no word yet on whether Sivana, Mr. Mind, or other Shazam villains will appear.
However, Shazam’s long-time archenemy, Black Adam, will be getting his own solo movie starring Dwayne Johnson in the role and is due to be released in 2022. Speculation is Adam might make an appearance in this sequel as well.
While the film’s plot may be quiet, adding Mirren to the cast makes this Shazam sequel one of DC’s most anticipated upcoming projects.
Shazam Fury of the Gods debuting in theaters, June 2 2023.