Warning: This post contains major spoilers for Shazam!
“Turns out I don’t make a very convincing superhero.” —Seth Cohen, The O.C.
Seth Cohen lived a life of insecurity and paralyzing self-doubt on The O.C. He grew up playing Magic the Gathering instead of sports. He founded the Comic Book League at his high school, despite the fact that it only had three members. Seth Cohen was a geek. And that’s what made him great.
When The O.C. premiered on Fox in 2003, Adam Brody’s character was credited for making geek “chic” as fans watched the comic-book-loving teen go from getting his shoes peed in by water polo players to befriending bad boy Ryan Atwood (Ben McKenzie) and landing popular girl Summer Roberts (Rachel Bilson). And most importantly, he did all that without changing. Seth never stopped loving comic books. He never got rid of his Spider-Man mask (which also served as a rain coat… sort of). As Summer put it, Seth’s “Cohen-y Cohen-isms” never went anywhere.
If season 1 of The O.C. established Seth as a geek, season 2 took things a step further when he created his own comic book, Atomic County, which followed the adventures of Kid Chino (Ryan), Cosmo Girl (Marissa Cooper, played by Mischa Barton), Little Miss Vixen (Summer), and the Ironist (Seth). Together they’d fight crime, oftentimes in the form of demonic water polo players. In other words, Seth wanted to be a superhero so badly that he made himself one — and that’s why we need to talk about Shazam!
The new DC movie tells the story of Billy Batson (Asher Angel), a 14-year-old whose life is turned upside down when a wizard (Djimon Hounsou) unexpectedly grants him superpowers that turn him into a grown man (Zachary Levi) with super-speed, super-strength, and a number of other abilities. (Don’t worry, he can return to his teenage body by saying “shazam.”) But here’s the thing you need to know about Billy: He didn’t grow up studying comics and dreaming about one day becoming a superhero. And that’s precisely why when Billy (the Ryan Atwood of this story, if you will) finds himself in a superhero cape, he turns to his foster brother Freddy, played by Jack Dylan Grazer, to help him through the experience. Because Freddy is the kind of kid who grew up dreaming of becoming a superhero.
Freddy spends most of the movie as Billy’s power-free sidekick, using his extensive comic book knowledge to help his brother figure out his new powers. But after nearly two hours of living out Freddy’s dream, Billy realizes that he can bestow powers upon his foster siblings to help him defeat Doctor Sivana (Mark Strong) and the Seven Deadly Sins, and just like that, Freddy becomes a flying superhero of his own! And to make things even better, the adult/superhero version of Freddy is played by Adam Brody! Not only is it perfect casting for the quick-witted geek who always dreamt of becoming a superhero, but it’s an epic return to form for Brody. And for O.C. fans, it’s the ultimate payoff. It took years, but SETH COHEN IS FINALLY A SUPERHERO! (And for the record, he’s very convincing.)
But it’s not just Seth Cohen who’s finally a superhero. It’s Adam Brody too. After The O.C. ended in 2007, Brody strayed a bit from the geek path, trying his hand at different kinds of roles, as many actors do after they make it big. Then, a few years ago, it looked like Brody was going to return to the genre when he was cast as the Flash in George Miller’s Justice League movie (alongside D.J. Cotrona, who’s also in Shazam!). But when that film never came to fruition, it seemed like maybe Brody just wasn’t meant to be a superhero… until now.
It’s been more than 10 years since Seth Cohen left our television screens, and Brody has finally found the perfect way to re-embrace the thing he’s arguably best at, and he’s done so in the biggest way possible. Because what’s bigger than playing a superhero? What’s geekier than becoming an action figure?! Seth Cohen would happily tell you: nothing.