'Shazam' Will Cast Two Actors In Its Lead Role (For Obvious, Comic Book-Y Reasons)

Superheroes often have to balance alter egos — the face they show to the public, and the facade they fight evil with in order to protect their loved ones. It's a fascinating Jekyll and Hyde dynamic that goes on almost every superhero — except for the majority of the Avengers, who fight with their identities out in broad daylight.

But what if a superhero literally had two personas, split between their public identity and their heroic one? That's exactly what Shazam does, and how the film version plans to cast its actors, with the separation of the superpowered Shazam and Billy Batson, the kid given magical, transformative powers. It's not quite as existential as it sounds.

Shazam director David F. Sandberg confirmed in an interview will Collider that he would cast two actors in the roles of Billy Batson and Shazam, rather than casting one adult actor as Shazam and using de-aging technology to turn him into a child, as the trend has been lately in film. He said:

"Yeah, I wouldn't want to do that. That seems like way too much of a hassle. So I think it's just kind of best to have a kid and an adult."

Sandberg elaborated, stating that while the de-aging technology has become almost second nature in many Marvel films, which have de-aged stars to younger versions of themselves like Kurt Russell in Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Robert Downey Jr. in Captain America: Civil War, and Michael Douglas in Ant-Man, he doesn't think it could work at the level that Shazam would require it to — namely, between that of a pre-teen kid and an adult man:

"Yeah and they've done quite well, I mean Kurt Russell was in the latest Guardians [of the Galaxy] was really well made I thought, but I think there's a limit to it as well. You probably can't do someone to be a kid. Why create that hassle for yourself?"

It does seem like extreme lengths to avoid working with child actors, who admittedly, are hit or miss. But a superhero movie with the resources of Warner Bros. could likely stage a massive casting call for the best child actor for the job.

Shazam Billy Batson

Why Are Billy Batson and Shazam Two Separate People?

The concept of Shazam being played by two different actors is nothing new — in fact it's expected. This is because Shazam and Billy Batson aren't truly one person. Shazam is a form that Billy transforms into when he utters the word SHAZAM, an acronym of the "six immortal elders," Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury, who bestow their gifts upon whoever is blessed with the power.

Billy Batson, arguably the real protagonist of this story, is an ordinary pre-teen boy who is chosen by the Wizard Shazam to become the champion of good. He is bestowed with 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 whenever he utters the word SHAZAM, transforming into a wholly different person ( known originally as Captain Marvel, but changed in recent years for legal reasons).

While Billy's consciousness controls Shazam, the depiction of the character varies from one incarnation to another. Sometimes Shazam acts childlike in random moments to reflect Billy's immature behavior; other times, Shazam is a completely different character, so much so that other superheroes and members of the Justice League are completely unaware that they're fighting alongside a child.

It will likely be up to Sandberg on which route he takes when Shazam is released in two-some years, depending on when casting and production take place.

Shazam is likely to be released in 2019.