The comic books are crazy. You have Tawky Tawny…
Levi: Talking tigers, pigs that can read.
Worms. It gets weird. As a comics fan, did you dig into any of that?
Levi: The majority of the film -- the film script, that our awesome writer Henry Gayden wrote and I'm sure other writers collaborated on -- that was pulled from the newest version of Shazam! This New 52 that Geoff Johns wrote for DC. So most of it ported from there. That was the kind of starting point, the foundation. I knew that we wanted to bring some of the kind of old school innocence and I don't know how else to say it other than the gee whiz of it all. I'm a big fan of that kind of stuff. I like that era. I like all that old, cool, classic stuff.
It's very Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
Levi: Right, exactly. So I dove back and I kind of looked at various moments throughout the history because I wanted to pay homage to some of the nicknames like the Big Red Cheese and the holy molies and all of that. It's a really fun, charming way to portray the character. Obviously it's present day, and kids now are way more jaded than they were back then. So that was a very interesting challenge in trying to be honest with that portrayal and infuse it with that 1940s gee whizzedness.
You've been on both sides of the grand DC-Marvel…
Levi: The grand chasm as it were.
What is it like to be in these gigantic franchises that have basically been defining our cinema these days?
Levi: Very humbling to be trusted, first by Kevin Feige and the people at Marvel, and Kenneth Branagh, who originally did cast me [as Fandral in Thor], which Josh Dallas did excellently. For me to be part of that [in the sequels] was super cool. I feel like the Warriors Three weren't used all that much, or well to what I think they could have been. It could have been an amazing mini-Avengers right out of the gates. And then in the third movie I didn't even have a word before I was killed by Cate Blanchett.
But you got killed by Cate Blanchett!
Levi: But I got killed by Cate Blanchett! C'mon! For a moment, I was a little bummed, for sure. Because I was like, Aw man, I guess that was my moment. That was my superhero chip, I played, I got a spin at the wheel, I got on the board. Okay, we're done. Okay, cool, but at least I got that. I didn't want to feel like I wasn't being grateful for that but I wanted more, I always wanted more. We all want to be the star. You want to be the title of the movie. And now I get to be the title of the movie and I get to have my bubblegum-chewing face all over Times Square. It's so heady. It's so not normal. It's not real life. I don't take any of it for granted. I think it's important that while all this is entertainment and while we can take it for grant it means something to a lot of people, and we have the ability to infuse joy and light into people with the entertainment we bring them. I take that very seriously and I take very seriously with all the people they could have chosen to bring this character to life for the first time in its first feature film they said, "Hey, we're going to trust you with that." And that to me is a very humbling thing.