‘Shazam! Fury of the Gods’ Screenwriters Answer All Your Questions

Mar 30, 2023

Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Shazam! Fury of the Gods

You’ve seen Shazam! Fury of the Gods with Zachary Levi returning as Billy Batson’s (Asher Angel) super alter-ego, you’ve seen the Shazamily face off with the Daughters of Atlas, and now you have questions. Fortunately, Collider’s Steve Weintraub spoke with the two Mr. Minds behind the sequel to get those answers. Screenwriters Henry Gayden (Shazam!, There’s Someone Inside Your House), who penned the first movie’s screenplay, and co-writer Chris Morgan, (of The Fast and Furious franchise family and Wanted) sat down to discuss their collaboration and everything from the story to what’s up next.
With the DC universe making big shifts under James Gunn and Peter Safran, this long-awaited sequel hit theaters at an admittedly confusing time. Where did this storyline come from? Who are the Daughters of Atlas, and where did they come from? Were you expecting the sequel to tackle Dr. Sivana/Mr. Mind? Who is the dragon? And, perhaps most importantly, where does this leave Shazam in the new DCU?

During their conversation, which you can read below, Gayden and Morgan tackle all of these queries and more. The duo shares how this collab came to be, whether we’ll be getting more from their team-up, and how the Fury of the Gods storyline originated. They cover the post-credits scenes, where this will leave Shazam moving forward with Gunn and Safran’s remodel, and deleted scenes. They also talk about working with director David F. Sandberg, how they keep all of their characters and ideas organized, what it was like seeing the script come to life, Djimon Hounsou’s comedy prowess, and tease a little bit about Morgan’s upcoming project, Red One, starring Dwayne Johnson.

COLLIDER: If someone has actually never seen anything you guys have worked on, what is the first thing you’d like them watching and why?

HENRY GAYDEN: Like a starter kit? Shazam!

CHRIS MORGAN: Yeah, this!

GAYDEN: This, if you can get it. Get a bootleg of Shazam! 2.

Image via Warner Bros. 

MORGAN: Can I tell you something interesting? I’m going to lead in a slightly different direction here, which is, it’s important for a lot of reasons. It’s important because, actually, it’s a great movie. It’s really fun and there’s a great time, and you’re watching Helen Mirren, and read the letter that comes through, and it’s just so good. But, as a writer, when you collaborate, it is generally a fraught experience because you’re not sure, “Wait, is my vision gonna get written over, and what’s gonna happen, and I don’t know what it is?”

Part of this thing has been so awesome. Like I always say, it feels like you go to a movie, and you go out to food with your friends afterwards, and you’re like, “You know, it was awesome. That movie was great. It would have been cool… what if the thing came in here and then it killed this guy, and this one..?” And for us to be able to do that back and forth suddenly felt like, “Oh, man.” So this thing feels real special on a lot of levels for me. I mean, I love it. I’m super proud of it.

GAYDEN: I agree. I think that’s fully shared. Are you saying Shazam! 2 is the first movie you want people to watch of your work?

MORGAN: I think so, yeah.

GAYDEN: Really? Come on…

MORGAN: I mean, listen, I got a lot of children that I love equally. I mean, Fast Five? Come on, Fast Five. Actually, Red One is super, super awesome, but–

GAYDEN: I haven’t seen it.

Fast Five?


MORGAN: What?! You lied to me?

GAYDEN: Of course I’ve seen Fast Five.

Well, you can tell how good the relationship was if you guys have actually talked about working on another script together. So has that conversation happened?

MORGAN: I have emails to prove it.

GAYDEN: And whiskey.

MORGAN: I’m like, “I got something I think you would be perfect for, what do you think?”

Image via Universal

Who are the Daughters of Atlas & Where is Dr. Sivana/Mr. Mind?
Explain a little bit for people how this thing happened.

GAYDEN: Totally. So, [the] first movie comes out, they’re like, “Hey, let’s make a sequel.” So they bring me in and we developed it for Sivana/Mr. Mind, went down various avenues for what the next story should be, and kind of the whole time we knew what the core emotional story for Billy would be, which is now that he has a family, he’s going to be terrified of losing it, right? And so, how do you dramatize that where he’s holding on too tight? And none of the villains we were building around it really helped that. So we just said, “Let’s create the villains that would best dramatize that.”

So, we created villains that A.) have experienced loss like he has, and want to do something about it, and B.) they do not think he deserves his powers because it was their father’s powers. And that is not a coincidence that, also, Billy is having imposter syndrome and doesn’t feel like he deserves his powers. So then all of that kind of collapsed nicely into a theme.

So we were building it out, and honestly, I knew Chris before. We brought him to come in and bring this superpower – we needed someone who could– like I say, he has this power of he can build a skyscraper with words, like it’s perfectly fit, and his superstructure abilities. So he helped us kind of build out the Daughter’s world, and the realm and the mythological creatures. And then we just started collaborating and having fun. Then I wrote this Fast and Furious joke as like a doff of the cap to him–

MORGAN: That was the greatest.

GAYDEN: We just had a lot of fun doing that, and you’re right, I think a lot of time there’s like ego, you know? Like, “Well, this is my baby and whatever…” When I was on set and people would be like, “I love the script,” and I’d be like, “Thank you.” And they’d be like, “And this part,” and I’d be like, “Well, thanks a lot.” “And this part of it.” “Well, Chris wrote that.” And it kept coming up because the credits weren’t final until after we shoot. And as we were in production, I truly went to Peter [Safran] – I don’t know if I ever told you this – I went to Peter and I was like, “I’m uncomfortable if I’m the only person who gets credit on this because I think Chris deserves credit on this,” you know? And ultimately, that happened, and I think that’s fair because I think he did a lot of great work that was invaluable, and it was really fun to bounce off each other.

MORGAN: I got a great phone call, it was from Henry, it was the studio and they’re like, “What do you think of Shazam?” And I’m like, “I love Shazam! I love it.” I loved the first movie. I thought – speaking of superpowers – he has an ability that I utterly lack, which is to tap into like a teen modern brain. I think me being a teenager was so awkward that I have blocked all of it out, and I kind of don’t go back there a lot, and I don’t think about it. But then I read his dialogue, or the things that kids are thinking, but I’m like, “Oh fuck, I remember that, I felt like that. I thought that. The kids would act like that.”

So I was a huge, huge fan of the first one. And they’re like, “Do you wanna come play with Greek mythology?” And I’m like, “Fuck yes.” You know you want to! So many times you hear kind of references to, “Oh, it’s like the Greek story of something…” but you never get to bring in the pantheon and actually bring it into modern day, and have a war.

GAYDEN: If I can speak specifically to something you did that I loved… We had a dragon, and [David F.] Sandberg, even when we were developing, was kind of like, “A lot of dragons around in pop culture, how do we make this feel new?” And you kind of took Ladon, the real dragon and mythology, and made it like a wooden dragon, and a Fear Dragon, with those powers, and all that stuff really elevated it. Then, obviously, Sandberg was like, “Okay, man.”

MORGAN: I mean, Fear Dragon, sure, it’s fun. Why not?

Image via Warner Bros.

I’m very curious though, for both of you, what do you think people would be surprised to learn about the actual writing of a big studio tent-pole movie? Something like Shazam!.

MORGAN: Can I just say as an example? Again, I have the receipts. So, the greatest moments are– so Henry sends me the draft and he goes, “Hey, I changed stuff around. You should take a look. I threw something in there for you,” and I’m like, “Oh yeah, what is it?” I’m reading through the thing and I see the runner about, “It’s all about family guys! Guys?” and I just start laughing.

I’m like, “I don’t think the audience understands…” I think from the outside– at least, I remember when I was working at a video store for a lot of years and talking to the customers, and talking about how movies get made. There’s a little bit of a misconception that everything is perfect, it’s all in place, they know exactly what words are going to be used, and then they go out and they film, and it’s exactly that. And it is not that. It is, in the best version, a loose collaborative, creative process that always makes room for the best idea, and for fun, and just for fun. You can tell stuff like this was– it just makes you feel like the movie’s alive. The process is healthy and just, I don’t know, it’s like a treat for me, a real treat.

GAYDEN: And it was just like we were collaborating. It’s also one of my favorite things to do is to go to set and have the actors now saying the words that you’ve written. And sometimes those words don’t come out naturally, and sometimes they do, and then evolving it with the actors is – because I’ve never worked with difficult actors – really fun.

MORGAN: Me either!

Sure, that’s definitely true, Chris.

MORGAN: It’s official though [laughs].

GAYDEN: But yeah, it was really cool. We were just talking about how Djimon [Harmon], I think, really relished the opportunity to play into comedy, which you never get to see him do, and just him developing that. And I keep talking about this, one of my favorite moments in the movie, where Freddy and old Anthea are having a romantic moment in the background. You see Djimon just being like [makes a face]. That’s just him on set, being funny, like, that’s just him coming up with that.

MORGAN: That stuff makes me so happy because I worked with Djimon on [Furious 7], and in there he plays heavy and he’s very stoic, but man, that guy is funny. He’s got so many years, and just to be able to suddenly start doing a buddy dialogue with him and Freddy, that just makes me laugh. I think it’s fun.

Image via Warner Bros

Shazam! Fury of the Gods End-Credits Scenes
I definitely have to touch on the after-the-credits scenes. How did you decide what was going to be the scenes that were after the credits?

GAYDEN: So, the origin of the second one, the post-credit scene is– so, I’d written a draft with Sivana/Mr. Mind, we ultimately had dispensed with it, and I talked about kind of going into the Daughters of Atlas, but I was like, “What if he’s just still waiting there?” You know? And so, I just truly, almost like a joke, wrote this fun thing and sent it to the New Line executive, and he was like, “That’s really funny.” And then I think I sent it to Sandberg, and he’s like, “That’s really funny.” And then, that was it, it was kind of fun. It was like, “This is a really fun thing.”

Then, as we were getting into pre-production, I was like, “What about this thing that I wrote that was kind of fun?” And so I sent it to [Walter Hamada], and he was like, “This is the best thing you’ve ever written.” And so then we got [Marcus Viscidi], and Mark was like, “This is really fun,” and then everyone got on board and just out of nowhere, we got to shoot that thing, and I love it so much. And so maybe we’ll tell more Sivana stories in the future if we have a third movie, maybe the post-credits will be coming back to the same place. Who knows? That’s how it came about. That’s the genesis.

Image via Warner Bros.

Will there be a Shazam! 3?
There’s a lot of change at DC right now with James [Gunn] and Peter taking control. How much are you thinking about the future? Because the possibility exists for Shazam to continue with James and Peter’s taking over DC because this is sort of its own thing. So how much are you thinking about the future, and how much are you like, “I don’t even want to think about it until after opening weekend because I don’t want to jinx anything.”?

GAYDEN: For me, both. It’s like you can’t not think about it, and talk about it with David or Peter, but then on the other hand, like, why think about it and be scared that maybe we won’t have it? So I kind of exist in both. I definitely have thought about it, but there’s nothing concrete until the movie– if it performs really well, then you’re right, there’s a place for it, and that’s when at least talks in earnest will happen.

MORGAN: For me, not at all. Because this franchise is Henry’s. You look at it, it is his voice and his style, and I literally just kind of followed behind, and helped out with some stuff. However, if the call ever came, I would do it in a fucking heartbeat. It would be amazing.

One of the things this film has to do is balance a lot of characters, and I’m curious, how did the script and story change with the characters through the writing process and into editing? Because it’s a tricky balance of trying to make everything work.

GAYDEN: I mean, the answer is that there was a lot fuller body to everyone’s story, and through script writing and through editing stuff, we shot, we had to winnow it down to like, “How do you tell the story as concisely as possible?”

So like Mary, you see her wearing sunglasses, she used to go to a party, and we have that scene, I’m sure you’ll see on the DVD and Blu-ray. There’s a scene where Pedro had a very specific crush on a very specific player on the Phillies, and he eventually met that player at the end of the movie, and there was a sweet moment, but we didn’t have room for all that.

So, we just kind of got in and told the story as elegantly as we could because you’re right, we’re juggling a lot, and at the end of day we still used what we needed, and it was still funny, and a lot of it we didn’t need even though it’s like charming, you know? So, at least the way I write, write too much and then winnow it down.

MORGAN: That’s the way it always is, for everybody.

Image via Warner Bros. 

People like seeing deleted scenes, so it’s not like it goes to waste as long as there’s a Blu-ray coming out.

GAYDEN: Well, yeah, but like the Pedro stuff we never shot, but the Mary stuff we did shoot. So it’s like you never know there won’t be a deleted scene.

MORGAN: You don’t know where that stuff is gonna lead either, and is there something in that scene that you end up, “Oh, you know, this would be great for something else down the road…”

I will say, I’ve had a fair amount of experience with ensemble stuff. I love it. For me, the process is, I take post-it notes and I use a really thick sharpie, and I write one sentence, maybe just keywords, for every beat in the movie, and I put it up on a window. Because if I use anything that’s too big, or I put too much information that is valuable, I don’t get rid of it and I get stuck on a story thing. But if it’s just the stuff that I can crumple and put another one up, or I can just move them on the window, suddenly it lets me look at the ensemble. If I know the plot and where it’s going, and I know I’m going to need to have characters doing certain things, then it lets you pick those characters and put them so everyone gets balanced, you know where they go.

And the other thing is, even though you don’t have time, you suddenly start getting in a mindset. It’s like, you have to do the most delicious, reduced version of what you’re hoping to do. Maybe it can’t be a super long scene, but it can be a potent scene with them, whether it’s funny or action or scary or whatever. That’s kind of how you, at least how I, balance ensemble stuff.

Red One with Dwayne Johnson
I want to ask Chris an individualquestion. I’m looking forward to Red One because, you know, I’m a fan of this guy Dwayne. He seems to be okay.

GAYDEN: He’s a wrestler, right? Is he the guy that makes tequila?

Image via Warner Bros. 

Something like that. I am curious because not much is known about the movie, Dwayne has been a little guarded, (co-writer) Hiram [Garcia] has told me a little bit. But what can you say about the movie? What should fans be looking forward to?

MORGAN: It is a big, awesome Christmas action movie that you have never seen before, that doesn’t really exist. I want to give a proper attribution – can tell a quick funny story?

So I’m on Hobbs and Shaw, and we are in Hawaii on this windswept kind of cliffside, and I’m making some changes on the computer to some scenes that are coming up. And then Hiram is in the producer tents with me and he goes, “Bro,” he’s like, “I got this idea. Can I pitch you something?” I’m like, “What?” He’s like, “I got this idea for this thing.” I’m like, “Okay, sure.” He’s like, “So there are things, whatever, and something is Christmas,” and I’m like, “Yeah, man, that sounds great. That’s really good. Hope you work on that. That’s fine.”

Movie ends and months go by, and he calls me back up and he goes, “Dude, I can’t stop thinking about that Christmas thing.” I’m like, “Pitch it again,” and he pitches it, and now, because I’m not pressured with whatever, I listen to it. I’m like, “Shit,” I’m like, “That’s awesome. It’s really awesome.” He’s like, “I think I got Dwayen for this thing. Do you want to go do it?” And I’m like, “Yeah.”

So that movie literally came from Hiram, his original idea, the world and what the story is, and he literally just tapped me on the shoulder goes, “You want to be part of this thing?” And ever since then, it has been the kindest, most collaborative fun process. I mean, I was in the North Pole in Atlanta, right? For about four months. It’s amazing.

I mean, we got Dwayne Johnson, we got Chris Evans, we got Lucy [Liu] from this, J.K. Simmons, Kiernan Shipka, Nick Kroll. Like, it’s unbelievable. It’s unbelievable.

And yet, I still don’t know exactly what it’s about.

MORGAN: Can I tell you another one last funny thing, and I’ll let you go? We shoot in this giant soundstage, and I got to annoy everyone because every time we– you know, “Here’s the action set piece that we’re gonna shoot this thing.” I’m like, “That’s where the submarine was for Fast 8.” They’re like, “Great,” and they’re like, “Okay, so now we’re over here.” I’m like, “That’s the prison from the end of Fast 7, whatever.” I’ve shot so many movies, Fast stuff, on this one giant lot, and then to be able to bring it home and just do a brand new thing there was really funny and really fun.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods is in theaters now.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
Publisher: Source link

17 Nepo Babies Who Began Their Careers With Stage Names

King Princess was only 11 the first time they were offered a recording contract, but their family opted against it. They told Rolling Stone, "My dad was really a protector and mentor. People were fucking scared of him. I worked with…

Jun 2, 2023

The Bachelorette’s Andi Dorfman Marries Blaine Hart in Italy

The ceremony comes a little more than a year after Blaine popped the question on a beach in Santa Monica, Calif. in March 2022, with Andi noting on Instagram finding the one was "WORTH THE WAIT!!!!"  Fans began following the…

Jun 1, 2023

14 Toxic-Ass Comments Celebs Have Made About Food, Only To Be Called Out

"The ignorance is otherworldly disgusting."View Entire Post › Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.Publisher: Source link

Jun 1, 2023

Ted Lasso’s Tearful Season 3 Finale Teases Show’s Fate

Warning: spoilers ahead for the Ted Lasso season three finale. ____________________ Is it game over for Ted Lasso? While there's been no official word from AppleTV+ or star Jason Sudeikis, the show's season three finale did offer a storybook ending for…

May 31, 2023