Shazam! Fury of the Gods: Filmmakers on Daughters of Atlas Casting and Seeking Vengeance

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Shazam! Fury of the Gods is an upcoming DC superhero film and a sequel to the 2019 film Shazam! Zachary Levi is back as the titular hero, also known as Billy Batson, and he’ll have to keep his family together in order to help battle a new threat known as the Daughters of Atlas. David F. Sandberg returns to helm the sequel with Henry Gayden and Chris Morgan attached as screenwriters.

Atlas is a Greek Titan known for holding up the heavens, and playing the role of the eldiest daughter is Helen Mirren, who portrays Hespera.

“Helen Mirren was sort of the first one we thought,” Sandberg said in a roundtable during a special screening event for Shazam! Fury of the Gods. “We wanted to aim high like, ‘What’s the best we could get?’ And Helen Mirren would be the best, you know? And then she actually said, ‘Yes.'”

Lucy Liu portrays Kalypso, the middle daughter of Atlas, and she was also a top pick from the filmmakers.

“We started doing just auditions with lesser-known people for Kalypso,” Sandberg said. “But after we got Helen Mirren and everything, the studio was like, ‘Hey we kind of need to get someone bigger here.’ And then we started talking about Lucy Liu.”

Rounding out the rest of The Daughters of Atlas is Rachel Zegler as Anthea, who actually auditioned for her role in the film, unlike Mirren and Liu.

Henry Gayden wrote the screenplay for the first film, and with Shazam! Fury of the Gods, he returns as a co-screenwriter. The film focuses on how Shazam is trying to preserve his family, and the writer talks about how they developed the story for the sequel.

“The core of the movie is that Billy has been looking for a family his whole life, and ends up he found them on accident with this foster family,” Gayden tells Nerd Reactor during the press junket. “Moving forward, now that he has it, he’s terrified to lose it. And that’s the internal conflict of the movie. So we had that going through all the way. Now we had all these kids with superpowers, and they’re probably not the best at what they do so that just inherently creates a problem for their story. And that’s all we really had at the beginning.”

The story of keeping the family together was there from the beginning stages, but the writers went in a lot of different directions for who the villains were going to be including Thaddeus Sivana and Mister Mind.

“Geoff Johns had a run that we explored for a little bit until ultimately we discovered that if it’s about their powers and them using them, it should be about the origin of those powers,” Gayden said of why they switched villains. “And so it goes to Atlas and the Daughters of Atlas, which is a real thing. And then Chris came in and helped build out that mythology with us. And that’s how it got started.”

The Daughters of Atlas have their own desires, and each has a unique way of thinking and interacting with the people of Philadelphia.

“The way I think about it is they’re all looking for justice for a wrong that was done to them and their family,” Gayden explained. “They’re now moving to our dimension, the people who wronged them. And the youngest [Anthea] is curious about our dimension. She wants justice, but she’s also curious and more forgiving. You have the middle sister [Kalypso] who is just strictly looking for vengeance. And then you have the eldest sister, Hespera, who’s conflicted throughout the movie about which is the right way. And I think those three playing off each other really creates just an interesting dynamic between what would be one villain played out in three different people.”

The interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

About Shazam! Fury of the Gods

From New Line Cinema comes Shazam! Fury of the Gods, which continues the story of teenage Billy Batson who, upon reciting the magic word “SHAZAM!,” is transformed into his adult superhero alter ego, Shazam.

Bestowed with the powers of the gods, Billy Batson and his fellow foster kids are still learning how to juggle teenage life with having adult superhero alter-egos. But when the Daughters of Atlas, a vengeful trio of ancient gods, arrive on Earth in search of the magic stolen from them long ago, Billy—aka Shazam—and his family are thrust into a battle for their superpowers, their lives, and the fate of their world.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods stars returning cast members Zachary Levi (Thor: Ragnarok) as Shazam; Asher Angel (Andi Mack) as Billy Batson; Jack Dylan Grazer (It Chapter Two) as Freddy Freeman; Adam Brody (Promising Young Woman) as superhero Freddy; Ross Butler (13 Reasons Why) as superhero Eugene; Meagan Good (Day Shift) as superhero Darla; D.J. Cotrona (G.I. Joe: Retaliation) as superhero Pedro; Grace Caroline Currey (Annabelle: Creation) as Mary Bromfield / superhero Mary; Faithe Herman (This Is Us) as Darla Dudley; Ian Chen (A Dog’s Journey) as Eugene Choi; Jovan Armand (Second Chances) as Pedro Pena; Marta Milans (White Lines) as Rosa Vasquez; Cooper Andrews (The Walking Dead) as Victor Vasquez; with Djimon Hounsou (Guardians of the Galaxy) as Wizard.

Joining the cast are Rachel Zegler (West Side Story), with Lucy Liu (Kung Fu Panda) and Helen Mirren (F9: The Fast Saga).

The film is directed by David F. Sandberg (Shazam!Annabelle: Creation) and produced by Peter Safran (AquamanThe Suicide Squad). It is written by Henry Gayden (Shazam!There’s Someone Inside Your House) and Chris Morgan (Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & ShawThe Fate of the Furious), based on characters from DC; Shazam! was created by Bill Parker and C.C. Beck. Executive producers are Walter Hamada, Adam Schlagman, Richard Brener, Dave Neustadter, Victoria Palmeri, Marcus Viscidi and Geoff Johns.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods opens in theaters internationally beginning 15 March 2023 and in North America on March 17, 2023.

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