Shazam 2 Didn't Want To 'Rip Off Doctor Strange' With Its Characters' Powers [Exclusive]

As varied and wide-ranging as superheroes and comic book movies can be, even rivals like Marvel and DC sometimes have difficulty separating one from the other from the perspective of general audiences. Darkseid may predate Thanos as the biggest supervillain of their respective universes in the comics, but guess which of those two characters would likely be considered a "ripoff" among certain viewers if he were to ever appear in a future movie beyond "Zack Snyder's Justice League"? Among the many, many, many setbacks that have afflicted DC's long in-the-works "The Flash" movie, you can bet that the Marvel Cinematic Universe beating their competitors to the punch by introducing Quicksilver as their major speedster in "Avengers: Age of Ultron" absolutely had an effect on DC's decision-makers.

Now, it certainly looks like history might have come close to repeating itself with "Shazam! Fury of the Gods." And we may have Benedict Cumberbatch's Stephen Strange to blame.

/Film's Jenna Busch recently had the chance to interview director David F. Sandberg and talk to him about many spoiler-free aspects of the upcoming sequel. One such facet of their discussion touched on the powers of many of the newly-introduced characters, such as Helen Mirren's Hespera, Lucy Liu's Kalypso, and Rachel Zegler's Anthea. Sandberg obviously wanted to deliver something visually fresh and original that audiences have never seen before, but that has become an increasingly tall task with each and every superhero movie that's released these days. And, according to the filmmaker, the existence of "Doctor Strange" forced them to have to make a few necessary adjustments.

'We can't rip off 'Doctor Strange.''

During her talk with David F. Sandberg, /Film's Jenna Bush asked the "Shazam! Fury of the Gods" director about how he created the visual language of the various superpowers featured in the movie, and whether or not the actors themselves knew exactly how it would ultimately look in the final cut of the film. According to Sandberg, the release of the most recent "Doctor Strange" movie sent them back to the drawing board — particularly when it came to figuring out the look and feel of Rachel Zegler's Anthea, who's gifted with the ability to manipulate reality through magic. When asked if even he knew exactly how Anthea's powers would come across on the big screen, Sandberg admitted:

"No, because the powers, especially Anthea's power — she can rearrange the world — that was something we worked a really long time on. So I didn't even really know what it was going to look like. It was tricky, because it's somewhat similar to things we've seen in 'Doctor Strange.' So it's like, 'Oh, we have to do something different. We can't rip off 'Doctor Strange.” So it was carefully trying to come up with ways of showing that it's similar to that. So we didn't really know what their powers would look like until pretty late in the process."

Honestly, this doesn't sound too dissimilar from Marvel's usual production timeline, where various visual effects-heavy concepts and sequences are only fully completed at the last minute. It must've been incredibly peculiar for actors as prolific as Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu to wave their arms around without really knowing what they were actually doing, but clearly they figured it out in the end.

"Shazam! Fury of the Gods" strikes theaters on March 17, 2023.