Zachary Levi believes he wouldn’t be DC’s Shazam without not one, but two assists from Marvel.
In case you forgot, Levi was a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He was cast as Fandral, one of Asgard’s Warriors Three (along with Hogun and Volstagg) for the first Thor, but had to drop out when his TV show Chuck got renewed. He came back, though, for Thor: The Dark World and then, briefly, in Thor: Ragnarok.
Spoiler alert, he dies in that third one, a decision made to aid the villainous Hela in seeming even more evil. And though he was disappointed with the character’s fate at the time, Levi now sees it a blessing in disguise.
“Let’s say Fandral was still alive and let’s say they tapped me to be in Avengers,” Levi told us on the Toronto set of Shazam last year. “I’d probably be sitting in Atlanta for three months doing almost nothing and then they’d be, ‘OK, now we’re ready for you. You guys go in,’ And then we’d get killed then. The way it all worked out is exactly the way it was supposed to.”
The way it worked out allowed for Levi to be free of any contractual obligations and get cast as Shazam. But he credits his attitude toward another Marvel role for that happening as well. Like many other actors his age, Levi was among the people up for the role of Star-Lord in the first Guardians of the Galaxy.
At the time, Chris Pratt had passed on the role and Levi was eager to get it. He even camera tested.
“I wanted it so bad,” Levi said of Star-Lord. Looking back though, Levi thinks that desperate attitude is what hurt him because he had the exact opposite attitude towards Shazam.
Initially, Levi declined to even audition for Shazam. He thought it was a waste of time because he wasn’t a big enough name, or physically large enough to play the superhero. It wasn’t until later that he warmed up to the idea and realised, oh crap, I may get this because I don’t care as much.
“[After Star-Lord] there was definitely a strange thing of, ‘Wow. When you are not holding on to something so tightly, if it’s not something you’re dying and dying for, but you can have an unbiased, somewhat clear idea of what you are trying to go after and know that you are just being you, you are bringing your essence,’” he said. “Ultimately, that’s what I think got me this job.”
And yet, as happy as Levi is as Shazam, saying it “jumpstarted” his life, he still imagines what could have been as Fandral.
“I knew when I got cast as Fandral in the first one, though I wasn’t able to do it, that the Warriors Three could be really fun characters if they ever developed them. They just didn’t,” Levi said. “They didn’t in the first one. They didn’t really in Dark World. [And] that’s not to say there weren’t some moments that were shot that weren’t used ultimately in the movie. Even when I got killed, there was more to that scene. Granted, maybe 30 seconds more of a line here, a line there. Kill, kill, you’re dead.”
“Certainly, in the moment, would it have been cool if Fandral got more to do? Dude, what a fun character,” Levi continued. “Errol Flynn. Viking. Space God. Like, c’mon. Ladies’ man. C’mon! That’s all fun. So, that was a little bit of a bummer but looking back, if I didn’t die, I might still be under contract with Marvel and I never would have been able to get this job. And I say, ‘Fuck that.’ This is the coolest thing ever. I’m so happy.”