“Shazam! Fury of the Gods” actor Zachary Levi added another headache to the DC Universe over the weekend. Levi, who led the original 2019 film, sparked backlash after appearing to tweet an anti-Pfizer sentiment January 29. “Hardcore agree,” he wrote in response to a tweet stating, “Do you agree or not, that Pfizer is a real danger to the world?” The original tweet came from Lyndon Wood, an entrepreneur and self-described “factual and truthful conspiracy theorist.”
Levi did not make any specific reference to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, but Twitter users were quick to chalk up Levi’s endorsement as anti-vax. Levi followed up the tweet with a link to a Department of Justice press release detailing a $2.3 marketing fraud settlement paid by Pfizer in 2009.
Peter Safran and James Gunn, the co-heads and CEOs of DC Studios which backs the “Shazam” films, addressed the controversy during their DC presentation on the Warner Bros. lot Monday. (Among other controversies discussed with an intimate press corps during the meeting were Ezra Miller’s arrests, public meltdown, and current rehabilitation.)
“Real simple. If I’m at the mercy of actors,” Gunn said, “filmmakers that I work with are going to say things I agree with and I don’t agree with, that’s going to happen. I don’t have a list of things somebody should say because of what I think, and I can’t be changing my plans all the time because an actor says something I don’t agree with.”
Gunn continued, “But by the same token, if someone’s doing something morally reprehensible, that’s a different story. We have to take all that stuff into account. It’s a balance. It’s a modern world. It’s a different place.”
Gunn is no stranger to Twitter furor. Disney severed ties with Gunn in 2018 over resurfaced tweets made between 2008 and 2012 that included jokes about topics including pedophilia and the Holocaust. Gunn’s public criticisms of Donald Trump ended up drawing attention to the earlier social media posts. However, Gunn collaborators from Dave Bautista to David Dastmalchian and directors including Joe Carnahan and Fede Alvarez rose to his defense. Gunn was reinstated as a DC director at Disney in 2019.
Reporting by Brian Welk.