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Shazam! Fury of the Gods taps Helen Mirren to play new DC villain, Hespera

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Mar 23, 2021, 7:51 PM EDT (Updated)

It looks like Billy Batson may have found a new nemesis to square off against in Shazam! Fury of the Gods, the upcoming sequel to DC’s fun, box office-pleasing 2019 breakout film. Multiple industry sources report that screen icon Helen Mirren (the Fast and Furious franchise) has been tapped — or should we say zapped? — to play a mysterious new character with a potentially villainous role.

Mirren is joining the Shazam! sequel as Hespera, the daughter of Atlas, according to The Hollywood Reporter and other sources. Though her role in the movie is being described as villainous, THR additionally notes that Hespera and her Atlas-descended sister (played by Shazam! newcomer Rachel Zegler, who's set to lead Steven Speilberg's West Side Story revival), “may or may not be of ill intent.”

Hespera appears to be a new character to the DC movie-verse, with no direct comic book tie-in. Indirectly, though, the comics have long been setting the stage in case the mythic Greek corner of the pantheon should need to expand. Hespera's father, Atlas, has made several DC comics appearances over the years, both during the Golden Age and — perhaps most famously — in 1975 with Jack Kirby’s reintroduction of the character in the inaugural issue of the anthology series 1st Issue Special.

In the comics, Atlas appears as a sometimes-good, sometimes-evil hero, even vying with Superman (in 2008’s The Coming of Atlas) for the title of savior of Metropolis. Details about Atlas’ offspring in Fury of the Gods are being kept under wraps, but THR’s report appears to hint that Mirren and Zegler’s characters may have inherited some of their father’s good-versus-evil ambiguity.

The first Shazam! brought in $366 million at the global box office against a relatively slight production budget, pleasing both fans and critics for its lighthearted story of the teenage Billy Batson (Asher Angel) doing teenage things in the grown-up superhero body of Shazam (Zachary Levi). David F. Sandberg is set to return to the director’s chair for Fury of the Gods, which is based on a script from Henry Gayden. Original Shazam! producer Peter Safran is once again producing under his banner, The Safran Company. DC and New Line also are planning a standalone movie starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as classic Shazam! nemesis Black Adam.

Earning a Best Actress Oscar for her 2006 portrayal of Elizabeth II in The Queen, Mirren’s storied film career has veered toward genre projects more than once. In addition to her recurring role in the Furious franchise as family matron Magdalene Shaw, she’s also voiced the queen in Dreamworks’ animated The Prince of Egypt (1998), played Emily Appleton in National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007), provided the voice of Dean Hardscrabble in Pixar’s Monsters University (2013), and played the enigmatic Sarah Winchester in the 2018 horror movie Winchester. Mirren is set to once again play Magdalene Shaw in F9, which is racing to theaters on June 25.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods is set to electrify DC movie fans when it premieres on Nov. 4, 2022.