Djimon Hounsou has joined the small group of actors with roles in both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe.
Hounsou will be seen next year in the DC film Shazam! as the millennia-old Wizard who grants Billy Batson (Asher Angel) the magical powers that will allow him to turn into the titular superhero (Zachary Levi), Entertainment Weekly has confirmed. Filming has already wrapped on the project, directed by David F. Sandberg (Lights Out), but Hounsou's casting happened somewhat quietly, so this is the first we're hearing of it. Ron Cephas Jones (Luke Cage) was reportedly a contender for the role, but had a scheduling conflict.
The Wizard, called Shazam initially and renamed Mamaragan in current DC Comics continuity, first appeared alongside Captain Marvel (now named Shazam!) in the pages of Whiz Comics #2 in 1940. Upon meeting the young Billy Batson, the Wizard explains that he's been fighting evil with the powers of Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury (S.H.A.Z.A.M. Get it?) for 3,000 years and now must pass those powers on to a new hero. So, he gives Billy the power to transform by saying the word "Shazam!" In the New 52 version of the origin story, the Wizard again encounters Billy, but dismisses him as an unworthy successor because he's not completely pure of heart. Billy argues that no one can ever be completely good because everyone is flawed, and so the Wizard agrees to pass on the power anyway, seeing potential in Billy.
Hounsou's breakout role came in 1997 in Steven Spielberg's Amistad, and he's since appeared regularly in major roles in films like Blood Diamond, Constantine, and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. He's best known to Marvel fans for his role as Korath in Guardians of the Galaxy, a role he will reprise in Captain Marvel next year. So, in the span of just two months in 2019, Hounsou will play a DC character and a Marvel character, and he'll be co-starring in two different movies headlined by characters called Captain Marvel (Shazam's name before his DC Comics rebranding). Quite a feat.
Shazam! hits theaters April 5, 2019. We expect to see the first footage from the film at San Diego Comic-Con next week.