Shazam! Fury of the Gods is almost here! And all this week we’ve been celebrating everyone’s favorite kid-turned-superhero. On Monday we shared our interview with star Zachary Levi. Tuesday, we gave you a look into the film with Asher Angel and Jack Dylan Grazer. And yesterday we dropped our review. And now, I’m delighted to tell you the fun continues, as we had the opportunity to chat with writers of the film, Henry Gayden and Chris Morgan!
Gayden is no stranger to the magic-powered superhero, doing a tremendous job writing the first Shazam! film. But new to the franchise is veteran Fast and Furious screenwriter, Morgan. We were able to sit down with both writers, and describe their process and their various takes on continuing the legendary story of Billy Batson.
NOC: Thank you so much for the time, and for your work in the movie! I really appreciate it! Henry I’d love to start with you — Going back to the first Shazam! movie this character has been with you a long time. And you’ve really fostered him into this franchise. Were there challenges getting back into the world, and expanding on some of the themes you touched on in the first movie, to a greater degree here?
Gayden: There were a ton. The idea of the first movie — we just made that movie kind of on our own. It felt like it was a secret. Everyone at the studio was like ‘what is a Shazam?’ No one really knew what we were doing, or really cared because we weren’t that expensive. And so it was really a fun secret project that we got to build. And so we built it to be a movie. And it turned out to be a good movie. And so we got a sequel, but we didn’t really have a whole plan. So there was a lot of development into looking at the old comics, what do we do with Savana and Mister Mind. And that was difficult. But what was not difficult was kind of Billy’s internal story, which was something we had from the very beginning. Which was if we’re going to continue Billy’s story in a natural way, he has the family he’s always wanted (at least that’s what he thought he wanted), but he got it. And what does he do once he’s got it? He holds on too tight. He’s terrified to lose it because he’s never had it before. So we had that from the beginning, so really it was about building the external conflicts around it, so we could tell the best story we could.
Understood. And you did a phenomenal job, so well done! For Chris, who knows more about “family” than you? You’ve gotten a lot more exposure with The Fast Saga, which is all about family of course (you even say it in this movie!). But this [Shazam!] franchise has always been about the idea of family. So who better to help pen this than you? Was it weird jumping in and working with Henry and David from the get-go? Or did it just feel natural?
Morgan: I think it’s been the greatest collaboration that I’ve had. It was so fun. I was a huge fan of the first movie. And I was home during COVID. And got a call [from Henry] who said, “can you lend a hand… to help me out… here’s what I got, send me the draft.” And it was so fun and funny. So I just hopped on to help out a little bit on some of the back end stuff, and… listen you said it. With Fast, there’s something great and positive, and wish fulfilling for audiences to believe that the people around you will stand up for you, and are family whether they’re blood or not. So really to take the characters here with Shazam! with the foster kids who really, really prove that, and see them embrace their own family — it just felt natural and fun. And Henry and I kept passing pages back and forth, amusing each other. Henry was the one who sent me an email saying, “hey man I put some lines in the script. I think they’re gonna amuse you.” And I checked it out, and it was the Fast reference! So funny! It was really, really easy and really fun!
You got the Fast reference in there, and you got “Mama Shaw.”
Morgan: And we got Djimon [Hounsou] — Jakande — from Furious 7!
That’s right! Oh my god! A huge Fast reunion! I have one final question for you guys, then I promise I’ll let you go! There’s a lot of really awesome DC cameos in this movie. I have to ask — the scripts never usually start with cameos. But if you guys wrote in cameos for certain heroes in this script, and weren’t able to get them, was that a concern, and was there a plan to pivot if you couldn’t get any one in particular?
Gayden: There was worry. There was “hope” as Chris likes to say. And there was not much of a backup plan, though it was discussed. It was really always hope in what we wanted to find in the movie. And ultimately we got lucky enough to have that happen
Morgan: It is a great moment by the way to watch that with an audience and get their reaction [when that cameo happens]. It plays a little bit off of the first movie with the Superman thing where you only see him from the neck down. And you assume it’ll be the same thing here, and (not to give the reveal away), it’s just a nice payoff for something set up a movie ago.
I couldn’t agree more and people are going to lose their heads when they see this one! It’s going to be mad! Thank you so much for your time, and for continuing the story. I’m hoping we get to see another one and you guys are at the front of it!
Gayden and Morgan: Thank you!
Shazam! Fury of the Gods hits theaters this Friday, March 17!