For Rachel Zegler (West Side Story), what makes a memorable villain in a superhero movie is their ultimate function in the story. With the number of DC and Marvel movies hitting the big screen these days, tossing an extra villain into the narrative just to blow up a building isn’t very interesting anymore.
“I think being a good villain comes with a purpose,” Zegler, 21, told Remezcla during a recent interview. “I think we’re seeing more of that these days – [villains who] are not evil just for the sake of being evil.”
In Shazam! Fury of the Gods, Zegler plays Anthea, the youngest daughter of Atlas, the God of War in Greek mythology. Oscar winner Helen Mirren (The Queen) and Lucy Liu (Kill Bill) join Zegler in the film as her sisters – Hespera and Kalypso. The trio of goddesses travel to Earth to reclaim the mystical powers they say were stolen from their father.
“I think Anthea is a bit in the morally gray area because she believes in the greater good,” Zegler said. “Even though she wants to do what her sisters are doing, she also believes in the goodness of humanity as well, which I think is a very strong character trait.”
Those different shades of villainy are something that gives Zegler an opportunity to experiment with her character and test her own depth and range as an actress. “Obviously, it’s really fun to play Snow White, but it’s really cool to take a walk on the wild side every now and then,” she said.
Of course, Zegler is referring to her upcoming role as the iconic Disney princess in a live-action version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. She’s also portraying the main heroine in The Hunger Games prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, later this year. Fury of the Gods, however, brings its own challenges, she said, because it’s a sequel.
“I think coming into a sequel is a bit different than doing a reimagination or a live-action version or even a prequel,” she said. “DC fans are so intelligent about the lore behind everything, so you just don’t want to disappoint them. It comes with a lot of pressure.”
While Zegler respects comic book purists, she admits that she’s not one herself when it comes to some of her favorite blockbuster franchises. She is willing to go with the flow if that means she gets to consume more movies and TV series.
“I’m a diehard Star Wars fan,” she said. “Something that I always say is that I feel lucky that we still get new Star Wars content. I’m never going to complain about getting more from a franchise that I love so much.”
Until she can binge-watch the next Star Wars project, Zegler will be busy enough showing off her own superpowers in Fury of the Gods and her real-life superpower – being a talented Latina working in Hollywood.
“I wish I had someone like me when I was growing up to look up to,” she said. “I think DC has done a great job in incorporating more Latinos in their entertainment with Xolo [Maridueña] as Blue Beetle and Sasha [Calle] as Supergirl. We are so lucky to be living in a time where we get to be trailblazers for our community.”
Shazam! Fury of the Gods, starring Rachel Zegler, premieres in theaters nationwide on March 17, 2023.