It’s always interesting to play “what if?” with regards to superhero casting. If John Krasinski hadn’t lost out on the role of Captain America to Chris Evans, would he have ever delved into directing with A Quiet Place? Would the MCU have been as successful with Tom Cruise front and center as Tony Stark instead of Robert Downey Jr.? And would Tom Hiddleston’s casting as Thor instead of Loki deprived us of Chris Hemsworth’s dreamy biceps forever? (Nightmare scenario.)
Zachary Levi is about to experience his own “what if” moment with upcoming release of Shazam! To be honest, a Shazam movie was always low on my list of superhero films I wanted to see, but I have been relentlessly charmed by the previews for the wacky kids comedy, and for Levi’s Big-esque performance.
But Levi’s turn as the titular character almost didn’t come to pass, thanks to his previous experience with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Levi first joined the MCU in 2013’s Thor: The Dark World as Fandral, one of the Warriors Three. Levi took over for Josh Dallas, who originated the role but couldn’t reprise it due to commitments to ABC’s Once Upon a Time.
Unfortunately for all involved, the Warriors Three and Lady Sif remained under-served throughout the Thor series, which is a shame because they are characters with plenty of potential. Thor: Ragnarok saw Cate Blanchett’s Hela kill off the Warriors Three, and the Russos later confirmed that Lady Sif (who didn’t appear in Ragnarok thanks to Jaimie Alexander’s Blindspot shooting schedule) had been dusted in the Snapture.
But Fandral’s death may have paved the way for Levi to take on the Shazam mantle. In an interview with io9 he said, “Let’s say Fandral was still alive and let’s say they tapped me to be in Avengers … I’d probably be sitting in Atlanta for three months doing almost nothing and then they’d be, ‘Okay, now we’re ready for you. You guys go in,’ And then we’d get killed then. The way it all worked out is exactly the way it was supposed to.”
Dying in Ragnarok freed up Levi’s schedule, but it was another miss with Marvel that affected him as well. Levi was apparently a frontrunner to play Star-Lord in The Guardians of the Galaxy after Chris Pratt passed on the project. “I wanted it so bad,” said Levi, who thought that his desperation for the role ruined his chances once Pratt came back into play.
It turned out that being less interested in Shazam helped him seal the deal with the DCEU. “[After Star-Lord] there was definitely a strange thing of, ‘Wow. When you are not holding on to something so tightly, if it’s not something you’re dying and dying for, but you can have an unbiased, somewhat clear idea of what you are trying to go after and know that you are just being you, you are bringing your essence … Ultimately, that’s what I think got me this job.”
What do you think of Zachary Levi as Shazam? Would he have made a good Peter Quill?
(via io9, image: Warner Bros.)
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