Zachary Levi has established himself as the most lighthearted superhero in the DCEU in the role of Shazam!, the magic-powered alter-ego of teenager Billy Batson. But that does not mean Levi does not see the potential of a dark take on his superhero character. When a fan asked the actor on Twitter if he would like to see a cinematic adaptation of the comic series Kingdom Come, which features possibly the darkest take on the character of Shazam ever, Levi gave his full support to the idea.
"I have [read the comics]. And I wholeheartedly agree. Would love to see that happen, whether I'm involved or not. @thealexrossart and @MarkWaid created something no short of transcendent in that piece. It speaks to so many facets of the human condition, using superhuman characters. Superb."
Kingdom Come was a four-issue comic book miniseries published in 1996 by DC Comics for their Elseworlds imprint. It was written by Mark Waid and Alex Ross and painted in gouache by Ross. The series has become iconic for its gorgeously rendered, ultra-realistic artwork, and is also praised for a mature retelling of the superhero mythos.
The story in the comics takes place many years in the future. Following a great disaster he could not prevent, Superman has retired from active duty as the world's protector. Following his example, many heroes of the old guard also retired, to be replaced by a younger, more reckless brigade of anti-heroes.
When Superman finally comes out of retirement to stop the world from devolving into chaos, he is met with resistance by the new heroes as well as supervillains. One of them is Lex Luthor, who has managed to mind-control Billy Batson aka Captain Marvel (now known as Shazam) to fight Superman.
The series ends with Billy finally breaking out of Luthor's control, and sacrificing his life to stop the great war between humanity and superheroes. In a previous interview, Mark Waid had explained that Kingdom Come was created out of a desire to address the rise of ultra-violent anti-heroes in comics at the time.
"A lot of what we were reacting to was the gestalt of the mid-90s in superhero comics, the idea that all of the new characters who were harsh and violent and beating up on each other without a real sense of humanity to them, that somehow those were more popular and more vital than what was perceived as the old fashioned bar. Your dad's superheroes, Superman and Batman and Wonder Woman, and those old fogies. That was really very much what we were reacting against."
While a live-action Kingdom Come film is not currently in the works, Levi will next be seen in the DCEU in the upcoming sequel to Shazam!. Directed by David F. Sandberg, Shazam! Fury of the Gods stars Zachary Levi as Shazam, Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddy Freeman, Asher Angel as Billy Batson, and Marta Milans as Mama Rosa. The film arrives in theaters on June 2, 2023.