After finishing off 2022 in the DC Universe (DCU) with Dwayne Johnson's Black Adam, Warner Bros. looks to jumpstart 2023's slate with a similar character in Zachary Levi's Shazam!: Fury of the Gods.
Levi's new sequel is set to be the first of four theatrical outings from DC this year, bringing Billy Batson and his ultra-powerful alter-ego back into the spotlight for the first time since 2019's Shazam!. The movie also has deep ties to its immediate predecessor in Black Adam, with both characters boasting similar power sets and origin stories.
But how exactly do Teth-Adam and Billy Batson compare to one another? The following points will help clear some key questions about the two ahead of Shazam's second DCU solo movie.
Why Does Black Adam Say "Shazam?"
In 2022's Black Adam, Dwayne Johnson's titular antihero only said the word "Shazam!" a couple of times in the movie's 125-minute runtime, powering up into his superhero form the same way that Billy Batson does.
When Teth-Adam's son, Hurut, first gains these powers, he's taken to the very same Council of Wizards at the Rock of Eternity that grants Billy Batson his abilities in the original Shazam! movie. Once that happens, both of them are able to pass those powers on to others, with Hurut blessing Teth-Adam with his abilities while Billy Batson does the same thing for his siblings.
This all ties back to Djimon Hounsou's Wizard, who blesses these characters with abilities and uses his own name, Shazam, connecting both Teth-Adam and Billy Batson on that level.
So Is Black Adam a Shazam?
While the word "Shazam" is an acronym used for both Teth-Adam and Billy Batson's metahumans, the word expands into vastly different origins considering where the two come from.
Due to Black Adam's Egyptian origin, his powers are given to him from a collection of gods stemming from ancient Egyptian mythology. As shown in the first scene of Black Adam, Hurut is blessed with the stamina of Shu, the swiftness of Heru, the strength of Amon, the wisdom of Zehuti, the power of Aton, and the courage of Mehen, with the names of these gods spelling out "Shazam."
On the other hand, Billy Batson's hero is connected more heavily to a group of heroes and gods based on Greco-Roman tradition, mostly the Greek pantheon of Gods. As such, the young man's basic power set includes the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury, spelling out "Shazam" differently than Teth-Adam.
Most of these Gods are fairly similar to one another in ancient mythology, with Zehuti and Solomon being facsimiles of one another, while Hercules and Amon boast a few things in common as well. This change in pantheon only results in slight differences between Shazam and Black Adam's power sets, even with so much of their origin being identical.
Who is Stronger: Black Adam or Shazam?
With Black Adam and Shazam largely boasting the same power set, realistically, they're fairly close to one another in terms of strength levels. They can both fly and shoot lightning out of their hands, they both possess different levels of super speed, and they're both impervious to bullets and most other dangerous weaponry outside of a few exceptions.
On one side of the argument, Shazam could be deemed the more powerful of the two due to him being the Wizard's chosen champion, with the powerful magician bestowing his own abilities directly upon Billy Batson. Having his powers come directly from the source would certainly give him an advantage in the power department, even with Teth-Adam gaining the same abilities from almost the same exact source.
But another thing that separates the two is their demeanor as heroes, which oftentimes gives Black Adam the edge in the strength department.
Billy Batson being a young boy who turns into a superhero usually gives off a softer disposition, leaning towards doing the right thing and saving lives rather than exerting his power for the sake of having power over others. But in the case of Teth-Adam, his origin is much darker in nature, giving him a much less merciful nature and leading to him using his powers much more freely.
This has been showcased in the DCU, with Dwayne Johnson's antihero showing no restraint in taking out his enemies with brute force, even if it doesn't lead to him accomplishing his goals right away.
This ideology is what truly makes both characters unique, with their mindsets and moral fiber being the key difference in how they operate.
Will Shazam and Black Adam Fight in DC Movies?
It's no secret that fans want to see Shazam and Black Adam battle one another in some form on the big screen, especially considering their similar powersets and opposing personalities. Looking at Dwayne Johnson's star power and the passion he had for the role, many wanted to see him go toe-to-toe with the character he's most closely associated with in DC Comics through the years.
Unfortunately, this matchup never came to be since the previous era of the DCEU is coming to an end this year, although that's far from the only reason that it never happened. The lack of a Shazam-Black Adam showdown primarily came down to Dwayne Johnson having had his sights set solely on one other opponent - Henry Cavill's Superman.
Over the past 15 years, Johnson made it clear that he would only play a superhero that was at least as powerful as Superman, if not one that exceeded Clark Kent's power levels. Then, once the movie went into active development, Johnson shared his intentions to fight Superman on a regular basis, eventually leading to him spoiling Cavill's cameo in the mid-credits scene of the movie.
Now, with Johnson taking a leave of absence from the DC Universe and the franchise being reworked under James Gunn and Peter Safran, it's a complete mystery if or when Black Adam will be used on the big screen again. That leaves a potential Black Adam vs. Shazam fight in the dark as well, particularly given the lack of acknowledgment whatsoever towards Johnson returning for Gunn and Safran's new slate of projects.
Is Black Adam in Shazam: Fury of the Gods?
While it's impossible to say definitively that Black Adam won't appear in Shazam 2, the odds of Dwayne Johnson showing up alongside Zachary Levi range from slim to none, even leaning toward the "none" side.
Reports and rumors have indicated that Johnson turned down an offer to appear in Shazam 2 when he was asked about the opportunity, seemingly wanting to keep their stories separate from one another.
All signs have indicated that he had no intentions of wanting to be in a movie with Shazam anytime soon, with his sights set more firmly on fighting Henry Cavill's Superman, as mentioned above.
Even with a number of DC cameos reportedly coming in Shazam 2, including Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman, seeing Black Adam in the movie would classify as a shocking event when considering how heavily Johnson fought against that move.
What's In Store for Black Adam & Shazam's Futures?
James Gunn and Peter Safran recently unveiled their rebooted DC slate, which brings new Superman and Batman projects with it. The big question now is if Black Adam and Shazam will be a part of the story down the road, especially since they both came in late in the game during the original DC Extended Universe.
One potential snag in a Shazam return though was Zachary Levi's recent questionable tweets, which many took as promoting anti-vaxxer sentiments. Gunn did address these comments directly, stating that he "can’t be changing [his] plans all the time because an actor says something that I don’t agree with:"
“Actors, filmmakers I work with are going to say things that I agree with and things that I don’t agree with. That’s going to happen. I don’t have a list of things that somebody should say because of what I think. I can’t be changing my plans all the time because an actor says something that I don’t agree with.”
On Shazam's return specifically, Gunn did mention how they haven't decided on the hero factors into his and Safran's plans and left the door open for Levi, and other actors like Gal Gadot, to return:
“There’s no reasons why all the people you mentioned, couldn’t be part of the DCU, we just haven’t decided what the story is that we want to tell that incorporates Shazam or Aquaman."
Should Warner Bros. want to give Black Adam another shot on the other hand, it might not come for a while after Johnson's solo movie earned such mixed reviews, although it could be a chance to actually integrate the two heroes' stories in future outings.
Only time will tell what fate befalls both characters as the very fabric of the DC Universe continues to change.
Black Adam is currently streaming on HBO Max and is available for purchase wherever movies are sold. Shazam!: Fury of the Gods will debut in theaters on March 17.