Zachary Levi addressing media at the Middle East Film & Comic Con 2019. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Paging Hollywood — Zachary Levi wants to be cast in every franchise you’ve got.

The actor is currently on big screens as ‘captain sparkle fingers’ superhero in DC’s new hit film ‘Shazam!’ — and he’s even played a short-lived role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — but he’s not done his journey toward world domination yet.

“I’ve got to make it into every universe,” Levi insisted, at the opening panel of the Middle East Film and Comic Con on April 12. “‘Star Wars’, ‘Star Trek’, ‘Harry Potter’. Even if it’s just one scene, give me a wand and I can say ‘Abracadabra!’ — which nobody says. I haven’t read the books, does anyone say that?”

The actor’s character Fandral met his demise in Marvel’s ‘Thor’ films, but he was grateful to be cast given that he “wasn’t English, Asgardian or blonde, for that matter.”

As for his titular ‘Shazam!’ role, where he plays 14-year-old Billy Batson in the body of a “manchild” with super powers, he was grateful for a chance not to take himself too seriously.

However, the viral “floss” dance that he had to do for the film — and refused to reenact live despite pressure from panel mate Ross Marquand — “needs to die a painful death,” according to Levi.

The panel are no strangers to painful deaths and the feeling that their characters could be killed off unceremoniously at any moment.

From left: Zachary Levi, Katie Cassidy and Ros Murquand. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Marquand is on the gory post-apocalyptic series ‘The Walking Dead’, Iwan Rheon is on ‘Game of Thrones’, which is infamous for its high body count and non-reluctance to slaughter its most beloved characters, and Katie Cassidy has already been killed off and reincarnated twice over as the Black Canary (and Black Siren) on ‘Arrow’.

“I don’t want to rock the boat,” said Marquand, on whether he would ever suggest script changes. “I don’t want to get killed on the show.”

Marquand is also a voice artist and a celebrity impersonator, and he got himself into another kind of battle with Levi on stage: the war of the Christopher Walken impressions. He wowed the audience and his panel mates with an appropriately chilling Jack Nicholson impression, as well, and an impromptu Liam-Neeson-on-the-phone-in-‘Taken’ skit.

“You’re so talented, I don’t understand how we haven’t worked together,” said prolific voice actress Tara Strong. “I’ll hook you up.”


Quizzed on whether fans will ever get a JLA (Justice League/Avengers) crossover in the future, both Levi and Benedict Wong, of ‘Doctor Strange’ fame, said no chance.

From left: Zachary Levi, Katie Cassidy, Ros Murquand, Tara Strong, Iwan Rheon and Benedict Wong pose for a group photo. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

“I think at the moment, lawyers are in a room fighting — DC lawyers and Marvel layers,” said Wong, whose most recent credits also include the TV adaptation of the graphic novel ‘Deadly Class’, where he plays an authority figure to a group of teenaged assassins.

Levi conceded that both Marvel and DC are “laughing all the way to the bank” with their individual successes, so they wouldn’t have a reason to merge their universes. He also suggested the crossover only happened in the books briefly, because it was “a tough time in comics; everybody was trying to make some money.”

“I don’t see them [now] being like, ‘Hey, let’s all lay down our swords and shake hands.’ Although I think that would be amazing — I would love to be Shazam and go have a fight with Thor,” he said.


Meanwhile, Iwan Rheon shared some insight about playing the villainous Ramsay Bolton, a character everyone just loves to hate, on ‘Game of Thrones’.

Iwan Rheon and Benedict Wong. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

“I think first of all the key to Ramsay was that — when I first auditioned for him, I was talking to David [Benioff] and Dan, the creators, and they said the most important thing about him is the joy he [takes], so he’s really enjoying himself. You know he could have played it like really [makes a sullen face]… but he’s just like ‘Hey! I get to do some horrible stuff to people, I love it!’ So that kind of took off the edge.”

The actor went on that not all the scenes were easy to shoot. Some of ‘GoT’s’ most controversial scenes involved Rheon’s character torturing his cast mates. “I think what helps is having a good relationship with the other actors you work with and trusting each other. You know you got each other’s back,” he explained.


Voice actress Strong stressed on the responsibility she feels towards influencing young children, having voiced characters in shows such as ‘My Little Pony’, ‘Powerpuff Girls’, ‘Teen Titans’ and ‘DC’s Superhero Girls’, giving the example of a mother of an autistic girl who was moved to tears when she met Strong because of how much her daughter looked up to her. “It is very moving to meet people and know that you have that kind of influence on them,” she said.


Katie Cassidy, Ros Murquand and Tara Strong. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Of all the guests, ‘The Walking Dead’ star Marquand seems to have spent the longest time here on this trip, having explored the city for three nights already, and it looks like The Dubai Mall left quite the impression. “Your mall actually scares me… I get anxiety. I walked in there and I said, ‘I can’t’. I mean my heart started beating in my chest. I don’t know how that was built or when that was built but it is just insane,” said the actor, who also managed to sneak in a desert safari trip.

Don’t miss it!

MEFCC runs until April 13 at the Dubai World Trade Centre. Various MEFCC ticket packages are available online now, starting with single-day passes at Dh115.