Both DC Comics and Marvel Comics have a hero called Captain Marvel, whose films star Djimon Hounsou and release in 2019. However, both are different: Shazam! (2019) is a teenager who received godly powers and a superhuman form Captain Marvel (2019) is a female superhero who received alien powers. DC's Captain Marvel is the original, first hitting stands in 1939. DC renamed their New 52/Rebirth version of "Captain Marvel" to "Shazam" in 2012, due in part to Marvel holding the trademark on the name. However, DC still produces versions named Captain Marvel in print and animation.
On August 6, 2017, David F. Sandberg posted a mock script page that parodied the rivalry between Shazam and Superman. DC Comics sued Fawcett Comics in 1941, claiming that Captain Marvel was a copyright infringement of Superman, and won on appeal in 1953. Fawcett agreed out of court to pay DC $400,00 and cease publication; DC later licensed (1972) and then bought (by 1991) Captain Marvel from Fawcett, marketing it under the title "Shazam!" DC eventually renamed the character "Shazam" in 2012, retaining a version of the traditional Captain Marvel and his cast in their comics in an alternate universe.
Zachary Levi debuted his buffed-up Shazam physique on 13th April 2018 (almost a year before the release of the film) by posting a shirtless picture of himself on his social media accounts, showing him working out in the gym with a barbell weight. Levi had been teasing his physical transformation for months by posting videos and images of his workouts through his friend and training partner Eric Blackmon, including pictures that showed him flexing his biceps. The shirtless image post by Levi was largely perceived as an attempt to silence his critics online who had been speculating that he did not get in shape for the role after leaked set images showed him in the Shazam super-suit that some fans noticed to be clearly padded. Levi did not quash the rumors but did receive a compliment from fellow DC franchise star Henry Cavill, who is rumored to appear in the film. Cavill, no stranger to posting shirtless selfies himself, wrote "Looking fantastic sir. Bloody nice work!" However some have pointed out that in the photos of Levi flexing he is quite clearly pressing his bicep to his side to make it look bigger than it is.
Executive producer Toby Emmerich said this film will be set on the DCEU earth, but it will have a tone unto itself and be completely independent. The film will not tie into any of the other DCEU films, and there will be no appearances by other DCEU characters.
The star character has traditionally been known as "Captain Marvel," and the Marvel Cinematic Universe is releasing their own Captain Marvel movie less than a month before this one comes out. Interestingly enough, both movies feature Djimon Hounsou.
In some versions of the comics, Billy Batson resides in Fawcett City, named for Fawcett Comics, the company that originally created the Captain Marvel character in 1939. In those Fawcett comics, Billy resides in New York City. In the New 52 and this film, he lives in Philadelphia.
Darla's last name is Dudley. In the comics Captain Marvel had an ally named Dudley H Dudley (in some versions he was an honorary uncle to the Marvel Family, and in other versions he was just a supporting character).
Zachary Levi packed on 20 pounds of muscle for the film, putting his weight at 220 pounds. In an interview with Michael Rosenbaum, Rosenbaum guessed Levi's weight at 215 pounds, but Levi proudly and quickly corrected saying that his weight was 220 pounds.
Playing Against Type: David F. Sandberg's previous Hollywood pictures were Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation, which are both No Budget horror films. Shazam!, in contrast, is a heavy budget blockbuster and is set to be the most lighthearted film of the DCEU.
Saved from Development Hell: The development of a Shazam movie started in 2000 with New Line Cinema, Peter Segal, John August working on the project, but went nowhere for several years. New Line Cinema was eventually bought by Warner Bros., and August left the production when film executives requested that the movie be made Darker and Edgier due to The Dark Knight being all the rage at the time. From there, the project shifted development from a movie to a television series in 2013 - but Peter Segal stated that, at that point, the adaptation was unlikely to happen. The film was saved in 2014 when DC announced plans to adapt the character to film, and was confirmed to be in development later in the year. David F. Sandberg was eventually announced to helm the film in July 2017.
With Spider-Man: Far from Home (coming out the same year), which stars the most kid-friendly superhero of the MCU, with Shazam being the most kid-friendly superhero of the DCEU. Both are absolute Nice Guys who can be quite goofy when using their powers, and the youngest hero of their respective universe.
Ron Cephas Jones was initially cast in the role of the Wizard, but scheduling conflicts led to him leaving the film and ended up being replaced by Djimon Hounsou. Notably, this news only broke months later, when filming was done and in post-production, in contrast to the many immediate reports of on-set drama for previous DCEU films.
In the comics, Freddy Freeman is eventually granted a portion of the power of Shazam by Billy to become a superhero himself: Captain Marvel Jr. However, considering the whole trademark matter with the Shazam franchise with Marvel Comics, Freddy will likely have a different superhero name if that happens.