Who Is Dr. Sivana? Shazam’s Villain Explained
Here's everything you need to know about the Shazam! movie villain, Dr. Sivana. While the original Captain Marvel has reemerged into the public consciousness in a big way in anticipation of his new superhero movie, his nemesis, Dr. Sivana, isn't nearly as well regarded or well remembered. Despite The Big Red Cheese being one of the most recognizable superheroes in pop-culture history, few recall his arch-enemy. This in spite of Dr. Sivana having appeared in most of the original Captain Marvel comics!
While he was once the quintessential comic book mad scientist, Dr. Sivana has never been quite as famous (or infamous) as he was during the golden years of Shazam before a 1953 lawsuit by DC Comics forced Fawcett Comics to cease publishing Captain Marvel, as they convinced a court that he was a rip-off of Superman. Ironically, a case once could have been made that Lex Luthor was a rip-off of Dr. Sivana; both were bitter, bald super-geniuses who used science to fight seemingly invincible superheroes, but Dr. Sivana first appeared in the comics several months before Superman's arch-enemy. Both villains have been rewritten into more unique forms since then, with Luthor now being better known as a big business tycoon and Dr. Sivana now seeking magical powers rather than trying to prove his science superior to Shazam's magic.
With a series of revamps having twisted the character's history around to match his insane yet brilliant mind, it's hard to know what to make of Dr. Sivana in Shazam! Indeed, early reports suggest that he's been changed once again for the sake of the new film. But was he changed?
- This Page: Shazam! Movie's Villain Dr. Sivana
- Page 2: Other Villains In The Shazam! Movie
Dr. Sivana Is The Main Shazam Movie Villain
Dr. Sivana is the main villain in the Shazam! movie, and he always was going to be, despite reports to the contrary. Director David F. Sandberg previously mentioned to Screen Rant that Sivana was always meant to be Shazam!'s villain. We also know that his backstory, much like the rest of Shazam, is primarily based upon the 2013 revamp of the character, which was written by Geoff Johns with art by Gary Frank. However, the character was changed a tad bit to be more of a physical threat than the classic Dr. Sivana, who preferred brains over brawn.
In the Shazam! movie, Dr. Sivana is played by British actor Mark Strong. A familiar face recognizable for a number of villainous roles on television and in film, Strong claims to be drawn to playing antagonists and trying to make them into full, relatable characters. A frequent collaborator of directors Ridley Scott and Guy Ritchie, he is perhaps best known for his roles as cult leader Lord Blackwood in the 2008 Sherlock Holmes movie, crime-boss Frank D'Amico in Kick-Ass, Sinestro in the 2011 Green Lantern movie, and Merlin in the Kingsman franchise. He also served as the narrator for the single-player portion of the war game Battlefield V. And, as you can see, he's a spitting image for the comic Sivana.
Dr. Sivana's Powers In The Shazam Movie
The biggest change to Dr. Sivana in the transition from comic book to feature film is that he will have far more physical power than he usually did in the comics. Aside from being a genius level intellect and a brilliant inventor in the comics, Dr. Sivana also has the power to see the presence of magical auras with his left eye - an ability that was granted to him in the most recent revamp of the character in the comics. In the Shazam! movie, however, Dr. Sivana, while still quite intelligent, obtained his superpowers by becoming a host for the Seven Deadly Sins. He succumbed to their deceit and can harness their powers while they are inside him. That's what ultimately becomes his downfall when Shazam tricks the Sins into leaving Sivana's body, thus making him vulnerable.
Page 2 of 2: Other Villains In The Shazam! Movie
First appearing in Whiz Comics #2 in December 1939, Dr. Thaddeus Bodog Sivana was set up to be Captain Marvel's nemesis from the very beginning. The characters were a prime example of the dichotomy of heroes and villains complementing each other, which formed the backbone of Mr. Glass' theories in the movie Unbreakable. Dr. Sivana was as cruel and vindictive as Billy Batson was compassionate and noble-hearted. Dr. Sivana was also small and weak but brilliant, whereas Shazam was tall and strong but easily tricked despite the Wisdom of Solomon.
Originally born in 1892, Dr. Sivana was a genius, far ahead of his time. Mocked for his progressive ideas on revolutionizing society through science and accused of faking many of the fantastic devices he invented, Dr. Sivana packed up his family into an experimental spaceship of his own design, and moved to Venus to await the day when mankind would be more receptive of his ideas. However, the time in exile embittered Dr. Sivana, and when he returned to Earth he decided that would seek revenge upon the world that mocked him and prove his superiority by conquering it. Naturally, his schemes were always thwarted by Shazam, driving Dr. Sivana to the point of obsession with the do-gooder who opposed him.
Various retcons have established Dr. Sivana as Billy Batson's step-uncle or as a businessman/scientist in the mold of the modern Lex Luthor, whose ruined fortunes he blamed on Shazam. They have also changed the number of children he had and whether or not he was widowed or divorced. Generally, he is said to have four children by two different wives. His eldest daughter, Beautia, is as kind-hearted as she is beautiful and his eldest son Magnificus is almost as strong as Shazam. His younger children from his second marriage, Georgia and Thaddeus Jr., inherited his intelligence, his looks and his capacity for evil.
Strangely enough, the 2013 revamp of Dr. Sivana for the New 52 DC Comics universe changed all of this substantially. The new Dr. Sivana was still a skilled and respected scientist but a phenomenally fit man for his age. He was also said to have begun researching magic and the tomb of the legendary hero called Black Adam hoping to find a way to use magic to save his family from an unspecified plight that his science could not cure. His efforts left him scarred, but also able to see magic through his left eye. This new magical power took its toll upon him over the course of the first Shazam! mini-series however, and he had begun to resemble the shrunken, wizened character from the classic comics by the final issue's end.
Other Villains In The Shazam Movie
When it was first said that Dr. Sivana would be the chief villain of Shazam! it was assumed this meant that other villains would also be a part of the movie. That ended up becoming reality with the inclusion of the Seven Deadly Sins - a septet of demons who embody the forces of Sloth, Wrath, Envy, Gluttony, Pride, Lust, and Greed. This seemed likely from the start given that the Seven Deadly Sins appeared in a supporting role in the 2013 Shazam! miniseries, which inspired the movie script. Initially imprisoned within the Rock of Eternity, the Seven Deadly Sins escaped and took possession of Dr. Sivana, and the Wizard required a new champion - Billy Batson - to recapture them.
The one villain that comic book fans wanted to see in the Shazam! movie was Black Adam, but, unfortunately, DC always wanted Dr. Sivana to be Billy Batson's first villain before ultimately pitting one champion against another. A one-time champion of the Wizard who empowered Billy Batson, Black Adam became corrupted by his power and was sealed away where he could do no harm, though he later escaped and sought revenge upon the Wizard. The modern version of the character was reimagined as a brutal anti-hero, noble in intent but militant in his treatment of evil-doers. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has been cast as Black Adam, with a solo movie in development. Interestingly, if viewers look closely, they can see a silhouette of Black Adam when the Wizard explains the history of the Rock of Eternity and the champions to Billy Batson. This sequence might become the backbone for the character's upcoming movie.
But while Black Adam didn't appear in Shazam!, despite longtime fans wanting to finally see Johnson in the DCEU, the movie, thankfully, succeeded quite well without him. Dr. Sivana and the Seven Deadly Sins were more than enough to test Billy Batson in his first cinematic outing. In fact, with Dr. Sivana having been built up to have Black Adam's strength in many regards, he proved to be even bigger match for the young hero than previously thought. Yet the greatest challenge Shazam may face has yet to come - with Black Adam.