interview with ComingSoon.net.
CS: Speaking of superheroes, you were developing a DC Comics property a few years and a film was being planned called "Billy Batson and the Legend of Shazam." Whatever happened to that?
Segal: The thing is, Shazam has always lived this tortured life going against Superman. This dates back to the 1930s. Because Captain Marvel had similar powers to Superman, the DC folks back then sued what was the most popular comic book on the stands at that time. Years later, they bought it and it became a DC property but, as long as Superman stays hot in the market place, there seems like a little bit of a crossover between the two characters. After Bryan Singer's "Superman Returns," it seemed like there was a moment in time where Shazam was going to see the light of day. That's when you heard those stories. Now that Superman is being invigorated and going up against Batman, I think it's difficult for DC to figure out how to launch this character in the wake of Superman's resurgence.
CS: It sounded like your approach was a bit more kid-friendly.
Segal: Well, it wasn't. I was working with Geoff Johns. At its core, it's a lot like Superman. There's this boy trapped inside of a superhero's body. He's still a boy inside, so there's this opportunity to play a lot of humor with the action. Originally, Stan Lee brought me "Fantastic Four" a number of years for that very reason. I always have the question when people bring me superhero properties, "Why me?" With Stan, he said, "It's because there's a sense of humor within all Marvel characters." These characters are flawed and, within those flaws, there is humor. When Toby Emmerich came to me with Shazam, it was because of those same reasons. To draw from that humor and to mix it with great action and pathos. I've always loved Shazam, but I don't know if it's going to see the light of day anytime soon.
This puts to rest a project that had been in development for over a decade. It seems the project's best chance at getting made was in 2003 through 2005, when attempts at reviving the Superman franchise were being shot down left and right, and it looked like DC may have lost the rights to the character in a lawsuit with the estates of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. But once all that got settled, and Superman Returns began filming, it seemed all was lost for the Big Red Cheese, even though the project continued to limp along for several more years, and Captain Marvel was getting more mainstream attention through animated projects like Batman: The Brave & The Bold, Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam, and Young Justice. Personally, I think the project will eventually get made, but not as a live action movie, but a Pixar style CGI animated film.