Shazam’s oldest fan gets answers to questions he’s waited 75 years to ask
A Shazam fan who turns 80 this year – and just happens to be my Dad – attended the junket for superhero sequel Shazam! Fury of the Gods, to get answer to questions he’s been waiting a lifetime to ask.
Ted Tilly is a huge fan of Shazam (or Captain Marvel as he was called back in the day). He was a member of the superhero’s fan club. Wore (and still wears) his Captain Marvel badge with pride. And even received an annual birthday card from the character when he was a kid.
So when the opportunity arose to interview the man who now plays Shazam – Zachary Levi – I brought Dad along to help out.
We spoke about Shazam’s powers, his name change, the chances of defeating Superman in a fight, and why Dad stopped being sent those birthday cards. You can watch the video of an encounter that was nearly 80 years in the making below, while we’ve also written up the highlights underneath…
Superman v Shazam
I was a big Superman fan back in the day, which is when Dad would tell me about this other character who is just as big and strong and might even be more powerful. So we asked the question that comic book fans have been speculating over for decades: who wins in a fight, Superman or Shazam?
“Well the comics are pretty clear in that it’s unclear,” says Levi. “They are both equally but differently powered. They both have strengths against each other, and weaknesses. So no one’s definitely been a winner between the two. Obviously, I’m gonna bet on me. Bet on the house baby!”
On whether he could ever actually have that titanic tussle on film, Zevi says: “I would love to. That would be so much fun. Although if we fought it would have to be a little tiff we had at the beginning, and then we’re like ‘We’re cool, we’re bros, we’re working it out.’ Because I think there’s something that’s very cool in some of the versions of the comics – and particularly in Kingdom Come – Superman is the patriarch. And somebody that Billy looked up to. So I think that it would be cool if they built that kind of relationship.”
Shazam IS Captain Marvel
When Dad was a kid, Shazam was called Captain Marvel. But following rights issues, a legal dispute, and not wanting to promote a rival company in the name of your superhero, he was rebranded as Shazam in the early 1970s.
During Fury of the Gods however, the name Captain Marvel is uttered, via a great inside joke for longtime fans. As Levi explains: “That is said by the actor who played Billy Batson in the television series of Shazam.
“We were able to get him there to do a little cameo – a little Easter Egg – in ‘Call me Captain Marvel.’ Which is really fun.”
What it’s like punching someone in their 70s
Dad loves the idea of a newspaper boy turning into a super-powered superhero, and Levi agrees, stating: “It’s wish fulfillment. What you resonated with when you were a kid reading those comics, is you desired to have that power. We all do. I’m just the lucky dope who gets to be him in the movies. But holy crap it’s so much fun.”
It isn’t all fun and games however, with Shazam going up against “Daughter of Atlas” Hespera in the new movie, played by Helen Mirren. So, Dad asked what it’s like punching someone who is nearly his age.
“It felt illegal, at the time,” says Levi. “It didn’t feel like I was supposed to be doing it. But I got permission from everyone, including Dame Helen.”
Why Zachary Levi wants wisdom of Solomon
Shazam possesses 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. So Dad asked Levi which of those powers he’d want in real-life.
“I’ve put a lot of though into this” came the response. “I think the wisdom of Solomon is what I would choose. That’s for myriad reasons. One, I think that it’s a bit of a hack, because if I had the wisdom of Solomon I could create a super-suit that gave me all the other powers.
“But also as a young boy, I was familiar with the story of Solomon, and that he was a man of deep faith, to who god said, ‘You can have anything you want.’ And he said, ‘I want wisdom.’ And god said, ‘Because you chose wisdom, you get to have everything else.’ Because that is the most important thing. That’s the root of all of the other great things that could come into your life. Since a little kid, I’ve known that story, and I’ve loved that story. Maybe [it’s] even part of the reason I got this job. I don’t know.”
Fury of the Gods hits cinemas on March 17, while you can read more of our Shazam coverage below…
Shazam 2 Review | Zachary Levi interview | Easter Eggs | Daughters of Atlas explained | Post-credits scene | Does Wonder Woman appear? | Superman v Shazam | Rachel Zegler’s Anthea explained | Does Black Adam appear? | Shazam x Wonder Woman | Does Shazam die? | Streaming details | Shazam 3 |