The Countdown

The week in film news

This week, DC announced that Zachary Levi, best known as the star of Chuck, is playing Shazam! in the film of the same name. For the uninitiated, Shazam! is the alter ego of Billy Batson, a kid who is able to transform himself into a superhero simply by saying “Shazam!” (beats that changing-in-phone-box crap) On social media, Levi referred to the character as the “original Captain Marvel” which sent MCU fans into uproar, suggesting Levi was throwing shade at both Marvel and the Carol Danvers/Brie Larson character.

Yet as pointed out by James Gunn, director of Guardians Of The Galaxy, Shazam! was originally known as Captain Marvel when published by Fawcett Comics in the 1940s before it ceased publication due to a legal battle between Fawcett and DC over similarities to Superman. When DC decided to revive and licence the old Fawcett characters during the ‘70s, Marvel had trademarked the name ‘Captain Marvel’ forcing DC to come up with a new name — Levi 1 Marvel nerds 0.

Directed by Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation’s David Sandberg, Shazam! also added everyone’s-favourite-bad-guy Mark Strong as super-villain Doctor Sivana. In other casting news, Jon Favreau’s live action re-do of The Lion King added Beyoncé Knowles (Nala) and Keegan Michael-Key (a menacing hyena) to a cast that already includes Donald Glover (Simba) and James Earl Jones reprising his role as Mufasa. Some actors you just can’t replace.

This week’s strongest new trailer was for I, Tonya. Starring Margot Robbie as figure skater Tonya Harding who famously hired a heavy to break the leg of Olympic competitor Nancy Kerrigan, the result looks like Goodfellas On Ice, a dark, swear-y biopic that plays fast and loose with the truth. Sebastian Stan (good ‘80s ‘tache) plays Harding’s husband but the trailer is owned by Allison Janney as Harding’s tough-as-nails mother LaVona, a bitter chain-smoker dropping c-bombs about children. Best Supporting Actress consideration looks likely.

In the Star Wars universe, a 45 second TV spot premiered new footage, including Rey wielding a lightsaber in the rain, Supreme Leader Snoke’s very red Throne Room, Finn “woo-hooing” and the heart-warming sight of Luke on the Millennium Falcon, his first foray into the cockpit since The Empire Strikes Back. No, that’s something in your eye.

Star Wars head honcho Kathy Kennedy has also been talking about the future of the franchise, looking at “future stories beyond Episode IX, with these new characters, Rey, Poe, Finn, BB-8, but we’re also looking at working with people that are interested in coming into the Star Wars world and taking us to places that we haven’t been yet.” Our dream of a Lobot trilogy movie lives on!

Finally, the weeklong tradition of Halloween — remember when it was just an evening? — saw the stars come out and get creative with their costumes. Check out the video above for the good (Will Poulter), the bad (Bruce Willis) and the Gwyneth Paltrow — next level genius.