Zachary Levi throws off the perfect Shazam! pitch: “It’s Superman meets Big!” declares the affable former Chuck star who’s squeezing into a skin-tight suit to play what’s perhaps the ultimate daydream-come-true superhero across all of comic book lore: An ordinary 14-year-old kid named Billy Batson who can transform into a grown-up superhero with an array of heroic powers by uttering a single world (“Soundhound!” No wait: “Shazam!”) and then return to his regular self whenever he wants.

Zachary Levi has said the magic word to unlock an exclusive EW special issue (see it below) that you can get your hands on at Comic-Con in San Diego this week (or buy it online here). The issue includes a deep-dive feature story going behind-the-scenes of the first big-screen adaptation of Shazam!

“It’s complete wish-fulfillment — if you scour all of DC and Marvel there are very few characters that are actually stoked to be a superhero,” Levi enthuses. “They’re not brooding, they’re not put out, like ‘Oh dammit, I gotta save the world again!’ Billy Batson is like Peter Parker, they’re thrilled to have these powers and can’t wait to try them out.”

And then there’s that iconic apple-red suit, which the actor bulked up in the gym to help fill out. “It fits me like a glove, because it is a f—ing glove,” Levi quips. “It’s super tight, but it’s great. I look and feel like this jacked superhero.”

If all this sounds like the opposite of Batman’s growling grump, Iron Man’s retirement planning, the Hulk’s schizophrenic angst and Deadpool’s profane snark, well, that’s the point. Coming off DC titles like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League, next year’s Shazam! aims to inject some unabashed youthful energy and optimism into the crowded genre., the title even has an exclamation point.

“From my perspective, Shazam! represents the next step in the evolution of the DC brand,” producer Peter Safran notes. “You had Wonder Woman, then Aquaman [coming Dec. 21] is another big step, then comes Shazam! — all different movies, but all have a unique tone that moves away from the darkness of the prior DC movies.”

Though we still haven’t seen a trailer yet for Shazam!, that could change with Comic-Con coming up — after all, the Aquaman trailer will be making its debut on Saturday. Pick up the EW Comic-Con Special Issue at the fan convention — or buy it online here.

Credit: © 2018 Warner Bros. Ent. All Rights Reserved/TM © DC Comics

Shazam! will be released April 5, 2019.

Shazam! (2019 Movie)
David F. Sandberg's superhero movie is a lot jokier and zippier than the spandex tentpoles we've come to expect from DC.
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