My Thoughts On The Speculation That Brad Peyton Could Be Directing Shazam!

Earlier today, speculation exploded that Brad Peyton could be directing the Shazam! movie, or at least producing it based merely on the fact that Geoff Johns followed him on Twitter:

From CosmicBookNews.com

A Twitter follow would seem to be a flimsy basis for such a hypothesis, but consider:

Recently, we were told from no less than Dwayne Johnson (on his Instagram), Hiram Garcia (on his Twitter), and Geoff Johns (on his Twitter) that they held and attended a meeting at DC Comics about Black Adam, the Shazam! movie, and the tonal shift of the DCEU.

Following that meeting, Garcia, the co-producer on the Shazam! movie, was followed by Johns on Twitter. Along with Garcia, both Peyton and Beau Flynn were recently followed by Johns.

Why point out that Beau Flynn was followed by Johns? What does that have to do with Brad Peyton? Because Flynn was also in attendance at the same DC Comics meeting with Johns, Garcia, and Johnson:

Not counting Johnson, who Johns was already following on Twitter for a good while now, that’s two people who were at the meeting and two new follows for Johns, so it would make sense that a recent Twitter follow by Johns might indicate that Peyton was at the meeting, too.

Additionally, of note is that in the past, Twitter-goers who have sleuthed out clues based on Johns’ newest follows on Twitter have actually been successful in revealing their connection to a DCEU film, so the idea that Peyton is connected to the Shazam! movie is a viable line of thought.

But IS Peyton directing or otherwise producing the Shazam! movie?

We do not know. We cannot know. Not yet.

See, despite Peyton being followed by Johns on Twitter, there is one problem with the theory above. We do not know if Peyton was actually at the DC Comics meeting, so we cannot ascertain any involvement of his with the Shazam! movie or any other DCEU movie for that matter. Without that vital piece of hard information, the speculation stands on contentious grounds at best, so all we can do is guess.

Fortunately, the clues do not end there. There’s more we can add to this picture.

But first, let me say that I have had my eye on Peyton dating back to the spring of 2015. In fact, for those who have followed me on Twitter early on, they might remember me touting Brad Peyton as the likeliest candidate to direct the Shazam! movie at that time, back when people were speculating that James Wan might be directing the Shazam! movie. (He is directing Aquaman, in case you did not get that memo.)

Why, though? Why would I have had my eye on Peyton?

Let me tell you:

Johnson has a history of working with many of the same directors and producers he has worked with before, and Johnson has a history of collaborating with Peyton (San Andreas and Journey 2).

It does not stop there, either; Johnson and Peyton are slated to work together again on San Andreas 2, Journey 3, and Rampage. With future collaboration on their schedule, there is no discounting the possibility that they could work on other movies together, including the Shazam! movie

That, and Peyton’s body of work is mostly very kid-friendly (Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, for example), so he is a relatively strong, if not perfect tonal fit for Billy Batson, a boy who embodies the ultimate wish fulfillment of every child on the planet; to become a superman-level powerhouse superhero with just a magic word.

If so, it seems a plausible suggestion that even if New Line Cinema and Seven Bucks Production go with New 52 Shazam, we will likely see Billy Batson and Captain Marvel with their classic personalities.

Cool. What else do we know?

Well, Umberto Gonzalez said last April that he heard that they (New Line Cinema and Seven Bucks Production) were waiting on a (final) draft of the script and that when it was done, it will go out to directors. The next month, Hiram Garcia back that up, saying that when the script is done, “it will rise to the top” in terms of being greenlit and going into pre-production, meaning that the script will go out to directors and they will start the work of casting for the movie.

Given Johnson’s (and Garcia’s) history of working with people he has worked with in the past, it would make sense that one of those names would include directors that they have worked with, especially one who is a tonal fit to make a movie about Billy Batson. If so, I could not possibly rule out that Peyton could have gotten a copy of the final draft of the Shazam! script.

But is the script done? We do not know, but we’ve known going back to May that they were waiting on the final draft of the script. That’s seven months. Whole scripts can be completed in as little as four months. Suicide Squad‘s script was completed in six weeks. That is way more than enough time to put the final touches on a script that has had a writer (Darren Lemke) attached to it back in September of 2014.

Furthermore, if we presume that Peyton was at the meeting in the capacity of a director, we can surmise that script is done and that it went out to directors. Think about it. No director would be at the meeting if script was not done, and they cannot have chosen one if that were the case.

And really, even thought we do not know the details of it, this was a meeting with the co-head of DC Films and at least another producer, so it was a big one. It is hard to imagine there would be such a meeting without a final script and/or a director in attendance.

It makes sense.

So let’s add up what we do know and what presumptions we have:

  • Fact: Johns followed Peyton, Garcia, and Flynn following the DC Comics meeting and both Garcia and Flynn were there.
  • Assumption: Because of Johns’ recent Twitter follows, it logically follows that Peyton could have been at that meeting, too.
  • Problem: We do not know for a fact that Peyton was there or if he was, in what capacity. We can only guess.
  • Fact: Johnson has a history of working with many of the same people he’s worked with, including Peyton, and Johnson was also at that meeting.
  • Fact: Peyton and Johnson are lined up for future work, so it’s entirely possible they’ll do even more, and if that turns out to be the case, it makes a collaboration between the two of them the Shazam! movie a distinct possibility.
  • Fact: Peyton’s body of work is very kid-friendly, and so is Captain Marvel when done right. Peyton is a solid tonal fit for Captain Marvel.
  • If the script is indeed finished, we can reasonably put Peyton on a list of those who would have received the script, just based on the info above. If so,…
  • It would make sense that Peyton was at the meeting and it was in the capacity of a director.

Verdict: We cannot decisively conclude that Peyton is being considered or is in contention for the director of the Shazam! movie, but the evidence thus far not only supports the idea as a distinct possibility, but also presents an overwhelming and convincing argument that we cannot rule him out. In short, keep a very watchful eye out.

Personally, if Peyton is indeed the director of the Shazam! movie, I am more than okay with it. With the right script (assuming it is a really strong one), Brad Peyton could be a capable and competent director for the Shazam! movie.

What I am not okay with is the idea that because Johns was also in the meeting, that  he likely is involved with the Shazam! movie, especially if it happens to be a creative one. For the record, though, I do not think he is involved creatively, since at one point, he was tapped to co-write the Shazam! movie with Bill Birch, but was taken off the project. The writing duties later went to someone else (Darren Lemke). I think Johns’ chance for a creative role on the project has long passed him.

It is just that… Well, Johns is in charge of the DCEU, and knowing how  Johns sees, writes, and treats Captain Marvel… Well, that makes me nervous. Very nervous. (For why that is, read my Open Letter to DC. Johns’ New 52 Shazam was horrible.) It would seem that as co-head of DC Films, Johns would conceivably have the power to make major decisions for the Shazam! movie, even if the script and ideas for the film was well into development two years before Johns became co-head of DC Films.

The only good thing is that like with DC Comics’ Rebirth, Johns is course-correcting the direction of the DCEU’s future tone, which, until now, has been morosely grim and gritty, to one of fun, hope, and optimism. With the discussion of the Shazam! movie as a subject, and with New 52 Shazam being a priority in the two-year Rebirth story, it would not be a stretch to think that Captain Marvel is poster boy to transition the DCEU to fun, optimistic, and hopeful movies.

My personal fears aside, I want to remind you all (and myself) that altogether, we do not know anything yet, but the speculation that Peyton could be up for the job as the director of the Shazam! movie is a viable one. It just makes sense. Just keep in mind that we are missing some very vital information and that before we make any conclusions, we should consider the bigger picture and be careful not to leap to unfounded and premature pronouncements. (I’m looking at you, Geek Media.)

As always, call down the lightning, Captain Marvel fans!

Sha-Zam!

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