Shazam! Fury of the Gods director says the sequel is like a "mini-Avengers movie"

Total Film exclusive image of Shazam! Fury of the Gods
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

"It’s like a mini-Avengers movie," says returning director David F. Sandberg of Shazam! Fury of the Gods, the sequel to his 2019 hit Shazam! Speaking in the latest issue of Total Film magazine, which features Renfield on the cover, he adds: "That’s how I saw it because there are so many characters. You have all these heroes, you have the villains, you have the monsters… It’s a lot of movie packed into its runtime. And it’s complicated. Just shooting and staging up to 11 characters in a scene... Where do you put everyone? It’s really hard!"

Playing like Big-meets-Superman, the first Shazam! movie was, by superhero standards, an intimate, light-hearted affair, zapping the gloomy DCEU with a ray of joy. In it, 14-yearold foster kid Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is granted superpowers by an ancient wizard (Djimon Hounsou), and finds himself transformed into a ripped adult superhero (Zachary Levi) if he utters the magic word ‘SHAZAM!’ (an acronym of six immortal elders: Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury). Wish fulfilment was the name of the game, and Billy/Shazam spent much of the movie running around his Philly neighbourhood in a state of giggling glee as he tried out his powers before facing off against nemesis Dr Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong).

For the sequel, everything is bigger – stakes, scope, scale, budget. "On the first one we had a lower budget and it was a smaller movie," explains Sandberg, who was then new to the business of busting blocks, having come from small-scale horror movies Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation. "It felt like, 'We can’t really compete with the other superhero movies for action and scale, so we have to focus on character and humour – what makes it different.' On this one we got more resources so we could actually compete with the other superhero movies."

But for all the thrills and spills on offer, this is, as much as anything, a big-hearted
movie about family, with the filmmakers leaning into Billy now teetering on the cusp of adulthood. "The story is very much about Billy being afraid of losing this family," Sandberg says. "He found a family in the first movie, and now they’re getting old enough to have to move out of a group home and start getting jobs. So he’s terrified. They have to balance their regular lives of going to school and having jobs with being superheroes. It’s tough for them."

Alongside the insight from Sandberg, Total Film also got a new look at the movie in an exclusive image. The pic features Helen Mirren as villain Hespera and you can see at the top of this page.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods opens in cinemas on March 17, 2023 . For much more from its stars, grab a copy of the new issue of Total Film magazine when it hits shelves (and digital newsstands) this Thursday, March 2. Check out the covers below:

Total Film's Renfield covers.

(Image credit: Universal/Total Film)

If you’re a fan of Total Film, why not subscribe so that you never miss an issue? You’ll get the magazine before it’s in shops, with exclusive subscriber-only covers (like the one pictured below). And with our latest offer you can get a free pair of noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds worth £79.99. Head to MagazinesDirect to find out more (Ts and Cs apply).

Total Film's subscriber offer

(Image credit: Total Film)
Editor-at-Large, Total Film

Jamie Graham is the Editor-at-Large of Total Film magazine. You'll likely find them around these parts reviewing the biggest films on the planet and speaking to some of the biggest stars in the business – that's just what Jamie does. Jamie has also written for outlets like SFX and the Sunday Times Culture, and appeared on podcasts exploring the wondrous worlds of occult and horror. 

With contributions from