Why Is Zachary Levi Shading Dwayne Johnson Over ‘Shazam’ Bombing?

Culture

Why Is Zachary Levi Shading Dwayne Johnson Over ‘Shazam Bombing

Photographs: Getty Images; Collage: Gabe Conte
“The truth shall set you free,” declares the star of Shazam! Fury of the Gods.

No actor likes to lose at the box office. But less-established are especially vulnerable to a bomb, and some find themselves defending their work. That’s exactly what Shazam! Fury of the Gods star Chuck Bartowski Zachary Levi is currently doing—likely to his detriment.

After Fury of the Gods’ paltry opening weekend, Levi—in a flurry of perhaps relatable but definitely cringe behavior—began wildly sowing blame. On Twitter, a place Levi should maybe consider avoiding for a bit, he quote-tweeted a guy with 87 followers who bemoaned Zack Snyder fans who were “happy for” the film’s failure, saying “Sad, but true,” then throwing Warner Bros. under the bus for failing to market the movie as a family film. On that point, he’s half-right: Fury of the Gods, like the first film, centers on family, but it also features a mind-controlled teacher walking off a rooftop and hitting the ground—which we know because we see the body. (The foley artist deserves an award for how gnarly the blood splatter sounds.)

The Monday Morning Quarterbacking continued when a report from The Wrap suggested that Fury of the Gods was kneecapped by none other than Dwayne Johnson. In his attempt last year to reorient the DCEU around his  Black Adam character, Johnson allegedly flexed his muscles to remove two members of the Justice Society from the Fury of the Gods post-credits sequence in (Jennifer Holland’s Emilia Harcourt and Steve Agee’s John Economos, last seen in the Peacemaker TV series, take their place), and blocked Levi from making a Shazam cameo in Black Adam. Black Adam and Shazam are connected in the comic books that inspired the movies, so they were primed for a theatrical crossover—but Johnson instead tried to use his film to bring Henry Cavill’s Superman back into the fold, teasing a DCEU cage match worthy of Johnson’s WWE tenure. Levi shared The Wrap’s report on his Instagram stories with the caption, “The truth shall set you free.”

Today, there’s an Instagram Live clip making the rounds in which Levi throws more shade at Johnson. “We were thwarted,” Levi says, seemingly referring to Johnson. “I’m not talking about these things because I’m trying to blame anybody for our movie … I am coming to the defense of truth because truth is good, and we should all live in it.”

There are two actual reasons why Fury of the Gods failed. One, with James Gunn now in charge, we’re in a lame-duck period where this movie and the others slated for this year (The Flash, Blue Beetle, and the Aquaman sequel) don’t appear to matter much to the future of the DCU. And two, Fury of the Gods just isn’t a good film. The first Shazam was charming; the new one is saddled with darkly-lit CGI nonsense, unfunny jokes, an uncompelling story, and some of the most blatant product placement ever. When Dwayne Johnson tried to spin the poor performance of Black Adam, at least he did it by shamelessly trumping up the numbers instead of trying to make an appeal to “truth.”

Johnson is taking his lumps accordingly—but he’ll be back later this year with Amazon’s Red One, an action-adventure movie whose script is “Jumanji meets Miracle on 34th Street meets Hobbs & Shaw,” and two more Red Notice films for Netflix in the future. Levi’s next project is an adaptation of the Harold and the Purple Crayon children’s book.

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