Shazam! Writer Shares How Walter Hamada Changed The Movie For The Better
Shazam! writer Henry Gayden told fans how former President at Warner Bros. Pictures for DC-based film production Walter Hamada helped bring about one of the superhero film’s most impactful moments. The story was shared following Hamada’s departure from his role at Warner Bros Discovery.
Releasing in April of 2019, Shazam! was based on the DC comics character of the same name and followed Billy Batson, a young orphan who is given strange magical powers by an ailing wizard. By calling on the wizard’s power through uttering the word Shazam, Billy transforms into an older, idealized version of himself who wields superhuman powers, joining a long list of powerful movie characters inspired by Superman, as well as also possessing (often lightning-themed) magical abilities to boot. With these special abilities, he must save the world from the evil Dr. Sivana and the physical manifestations of the Seven Deadly Sins.
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Shazam! was well received, with one notable addition to the source material hitting fans in the emotional soft spot when it is revealed that Billy’s birth mother, who he has been searching for since before the events of the movie start off, didn’t want him. The moment is one of the most touching that the DCEU has to offer, which is to be expected as Shazam! has more depth than many of its contemporaries. In an unexpected twist, screenplay writer Gayden revealed on Twitter that the moment wouldn’t have been possible without interference from studio exec Hamada, who first approached him with the idea.
In the short tweet thread, Gayden touches on the irony of the situation, given how studio interference can ruin a project, no matter how ambitious and highly anticipated it may be. He then details how Hamada reached out to him with the possibility of the scene with Billy’s mom being included in place of a comparatively less emotionally charged scene where Billy discovers his parent’s graves, as Gayden had it in the early drafts of Shazam! Going on, Gayden admits to shooting him down with complaints that the scene would be too heavy given the lighthearted nature of the project, with Hamada ending the call by saying, “Just try writing it. He finds his mom, and she doesn’t want him. If it doesn’t work, we have the cemetery scene. Try it.”
Fortunately for fans and Gayden himself, he did try it and later admitted not only to the scene becoming his favorite mere moments after he had fleshed it out but also insisting to the cast and reiterating at the end of the tweet thread that the film likely wouldn’t have worked without it. Many fans will agree and hope that the lesson stuck with Gayden when he penned the upcoming sequel Shazam! Fury of the Gods. Unfortunately, future DC films might not have the benefit of Hamada’s sage advice in the writing process, as the DC executive recently parted ways with the company despite re-signing a deal to continue in the role as recently as the beginning of 2021.
Hamada’s departure is not ideal for Warner Bros. Discovery, which has been tumultuous since the merger that created the new company structure, leading to several controversial decisions and cuts, including canceling the 2022 DC Fandome. How CEO David Zaslav will fill the hole left by Hamada remains to be seen.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods is set to be released on March 17, 2023.
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Source: Henry Gayden/Twitter