DC's 'Shazam!' to Star Zachary Levi (Exclusive)

Zachary Levi and Shazam - Split - Getty - H 2017
Left, Getty Images; Right, courtesy of DC Entertainment
David F. Sandberg will direct the film for New Line.

Zachary Levi is going to be Earth's mightiest mortal.

The actor will star in the DC comic book adaptation Shazam!, which follows a boy named Billy Batson, who can transform into an adult superhero by uttering the magic word "Shazam!" The name is an acronym of the ancient world gods and historical figures Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury, from which Batson derives his heroic attributes when in adult form.

David F. Sandberg is directing Shazam! for New Line Cinema. The studio is high on Sandberg and sees him as a homegrown talent after putting out his first feature Lights Out in 2016, and releasing the helmer's Annabelle: Creation, the latest installment in the Conjuring universe. The $15 million horror sequel has earned $303 million worldwide since opening in August. 

Sandberg is directing Shazam! from a screenplay by Henry Gayden and Darren Lemke. Annabelle: Creation producer Peter Safran is reuniting with Sandberg for the film, and is also producing DC's Aquaman for Warner Bros.

This is a big move for New Line and Levi, who is known for comedic roles, and starred on NBC's hit spy-comedy series Chuck from 2007-2012. He also has superhero film credentials and can be seen in Marvel Studios' upcoming Thor: Ragnarok as Fandral, one of Thor's companions. Levi also recently appeared on NBC's Heroes Reborn and the Eva Longoria comedy Telenovela.

Other actors in the mix for the role in the last few months included John Cena, who met with the director, and more recently Derek Theler (star of ABC Family's Baby Daddy), Zane Holtz (From Dusk Til Dawn: The Series), Billy Magnussen (Bridge of Spies) and Jake McDorman, the star of TV's Limitless.

On Saturday, Levi shared a message, as well as some art imagining him as the character.

"Honored and greatly humbled to be a part of the #dcuniverse by bringing the original Captain Marvel to life," the actor wrote on Instagram. "I am beside myself with gratitude, not only for this opportunity, but also the incredible outpouring of love and support from so many of you out there in the world. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be in the gym for the rest of forever."

Heat Vision first reported in July that Shazam! will be the next DC Cinematic Universe movie to film, ahead of Flashpoint, Joss Whedon's Batgirl and the Suicide Squad sequel, which recently attached director Gavin O’Connor (The Accountant). No release date for Shazam! has been set, but New Line is eyeing a February start in Toronto.

The film is being developed concurrently with a pic focusing on Shazam! villain Black Adam to star Dwayne Johnson.

Levi is repped by UTA and McKuin Frankel.

Oct. 28, 10 a.m. Updated with Levi's Instagram post.