This is one of those times I wish summoning a bolt of lightning wasn’t just for garnering superpowers.
It looks like we are in for yet another superhero film. On the surface, that may seem great to folks like us (who usually love all things games, comics and nerdy). However, this news comes with a small caveat (one that some may find to be a deal breaker). The good news is a Shazam film is in the works. The bad is that The Rock will likely play him. You may now exhale in a frustrated sigh of disgust.
Now I’m not looking to turn this into a Rock-bashing article, even though the guy has given us plenty of fodder over the years. If you are a Rock fan, I certainly don’t mean to offend (but if I do I don’t really care). If you were being honest, ask yourself this question: how many really great films has The Rock made? While he’s been in a shit-ton, none of them have been particularly great. Most would pick Walking Tall as his one diamond in the rough (which isn’t saying much). Yet, he’s billed as the biggest action star in Hollywood today. Problem is, this is just another example of how stupid Hollywood execs cast their movies based on what the poster will look like, instead of focusing on the substance of the work. The comic itself has a long and rich history, depicting a young boy who calls the name of an ancient wizard named Shazam. When summoned, a bolt of lightning transforms him into the hulking Captain Marvel (the hero’s name was officially changed to avoid legal complications with DC’s rival).
So this got me thinking, if Hollywood is only concerned with box office turn out, who would’ve been their first choice a decade or two ago? Ever wonder what star would have played Captain Marvel in the early 1980s? Perhaps the late 1990s?
Let’s find out in a fun little piece of “what if” casting…
1980s – Arnold Schwarzenegger:
OK, I know a guy like Arnold (especially during his early ‘80s period) wouldn’t exactly have been the most elegant pick. In fact, it wouldn’t even be the most articulate pick (insert your Arnold “lawl, lawl, lawl” impressions here). But you can’t deny this guy ruled the roost in his heyday. For a solid 15 year period, there was no bigger action star than Arnold. His name was so bankable, just holding a VHS with his face on the cover made you want to pump the nearest iron you could get your hands on. If Shazam were cast in 1984…the original Hercules would be replacing the new Hercules in the title role.
Late 90s, Early 2000s – Vin Diesel:
Another bald muscle head whose reputation far outweighs his talents. Now I know Vin Diesel has garnered a lot of good will with fans over the last few years (with his charity work and giving away iPhones and such) which is certainly commendable. However…the guy can’t act. There is one reason he’s had the success he’s had, and it’s because of THE look. That’s about all you need in Hollywood, and things were no different at the turn of the century. Fast and Furious put him on the map, and there’s no doubt he would have gotten the nod for the role back then.
2014 and Beyond – The Rock:
Wait, I just spent an entire article running down why The Rock is a bad choice and then I recast him anyway? Allow me to explain…
I have no personal issue with The Rock himself, as my hang ups come from the dipshits in the corporate world. I get the superhero genre has flourished due to it being so financially successful, that’s not to say good casting choices can’t be made while still considering their bottom line. I prop up Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man as a perfect example. He’s an actor with a name, he's money and has the chops for the role. Having said that, I see why The Rock got the call. Dwayne Johnson has successfully built himself up as a brand, to where no one can touch its value. With the momentum he has going, he’s likely to be the dominate name in the Hollywood action scene for years to come. Like it or not, Rock is here to stay.
Granted this all could fall through, as at this point it’s just a rumor (originating from a recent Tweet by the Rock himself). In it, he states the character he’ll play next “…has the power of Superman, he can throw down. Just say the word. That’s all I’m going to say.” A seemingly obvious reference to Shazam, it’s likely just a matter of time before the announcement is made official.
So this begs the question, will Jaden Smith play young Billy Batson? I truly wouldn’t be surprised.