Zachary Levi Addresses DCEU-Hate at New York Comic Con

When the final panel on the Main Stage of the last day of New York Comic Con, a one-on-one with Danai Gurira, was cancelled the organisers of the convention made the excellent choice to get actor Zachary Levi to step in last-minute. A seasoned veteran of conventions and hosting his own panels, Levi has been known to fans for years for not only his starring role on NBC's beloved spy-comedy "Chuck" but for being the founder of Nerd HQ. The organisation would hold panels with some of the most popular names from nerd franchises and raise money for Operation Smile. The panels were especially beloved by fans for how intimate and honest they were, with the entire duration spent answering fan questions as opposed to being moderated by some stuffy host.

Now that Levi is set to helm "Shazam" film in the DCEU, his popularity is soaring higher than ever. He paid a visit to New York Comic Con during which he did signings, photo-ops, made surprise appearances to the DC booth, and closed out the convention by doing a panel with no moderator whatsoever (he made it clear he didn't need one) and spent the hour offering in-depth answers to the questions fans had not only about his big jobs in "Chuck" and "Shazam" but more personal questions about theatre, getting started in the industry, and mental health. Levi is an outspoken advocate for mental health awareness and promised that he will be using his platform while on the media tour for "Shazam" to further promote this issue.

Though all of Levi's answers during this panel were beautifully thoughtful and worth listening to, one question in particular stood out. When asked about the negativity that surrounds the discourse around DCEU films, Levi jokingly begins his response by saying, "How much time do you have?" But once Levi digs into the deeper philosophical issues surrounding toxicity in 'fan' communities and the media coverage of entertainment media he offers a deeply insightful response.

"I'm gonna get a little philosophical with this because I think it's necessary. I think we're all here and I said this actually at the Syfy panel that I did on Thursday, we come to these conventions because we care. We're dressed up in cosplay because we love these worlds, we love these characters. That is awesome and we should never change that. We should be encouraging that, we should be encouraging people's creative expression and their passion for these worlds.

What's unfortunate is that I think built into a lot of that and where we're at in the world right now is that there's a lot of insecurities that are fueling a lot of fears that fuel a lot of hate. With that hate, and with the fears of what's gonna happen with these characters, what's gonna happen with these shows, 'Is it gonna be exactly the way I want this to be?' That starts manifesting in a tremendous amount of negativity. That negativity is only going to divide us further, it's only going to keep us from good things. We have to keep that in check.

We have to understand that none of these characters belong to any one of us. None of these shows belong to any one of us. Sometimes these shows, Captain Marvel, Shazam, has been around for a really long time. There's a lot of fans, the iterations of the character have run the gambit. So how do I make, how do me, and David and Peter Safran, and everyone at New Line, how do we make a version that's gonna please everyone? It's impossible to do that. At the very least, I think what we can hope is that people would be somewhat open-minded, that people would be patient, and I think maybe even most importantly and this is something that after going through a lot of therapy and working on self-love and therefore being able to hopefully love other people even more, I think it's very important that we remember this: everyone is doing the best that they can.

That might sound like a bunch of bullshit but I'm not lying, guys. Every single person that you meet is literally living life to the best of their ability with the tools they've been given. Some of us have been given a really shit set of tools and that just is what it is. Now imagine that on just a base fundamental life lesson, right? Now that can go into entertainment.

Now a lot of people have very divisive ideas of, 'Oh that fucking movie, that guy, that should've been this and that should've been that.' By the way, I'm guilty too. There have been so many movies that I've gone to or shows that I've watched and I've been like, 'Oh my god, how much time did they even spend thinking about this?' or 'How much time did they work on that?' or whatever. By the way, look, sometimes people do take shortcuts and they're cheap and they're easy about it and I don't think that's okay. I think it is appropriate for us to hold people accountable to work ethic and hold people accountable to at least putting the effort in. But some times, a lot of times people are working their asses off to make the very best thing that they think that they're making for all of us. It just happens to not be your cup of tea and that's just tough. Just because it's not your exact flavour that you love doesn't mean it's not millions of other people's favourite flavour. If we can wrap our heads around that just a little bit and have some grace and some patience with each other, we are in dire need of that. We are all at each other's throats here.

When you have very passionate people, and us nerds, we're the most passionate people in the world. We love these worlds. We live and die by these worlds. We spend copious amounts of dollars to adorn our walls with comics and posters and signatures and pictures and own the entire collector's editions and all of that stuff. I think that's fucking great. But we have got to at least give people the opportunity to try and create something from their own heart and if you don't like it, by the way, this goes back to 'if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all'. You don't have to show up on social media and bash something.

This is one of the beautiful things about capitalism even though it's got some really screwed up things going on in it right now. One of the beautiful things about capitalism is that money talks. If you don't like something, don't buy it. They won't make it anymore. I'm not kidding. If you don't like a TV show, don't fucking watch it. It'll get yanked off the screen that fast. But you don't need to go online, by the way, particularly when it comes to an actor, we don't even write this stuff. We're just showing up doing the best we can. We end up being the face of the franchise and so then we get the hate. That's why people end up bouncing.

I try to filter that as much as I can. I tell myself when I'm getting a lot of hate, it's coming from fear. They're not a bad person, they're just afraid. There was a whole thing on social media when the suit came out and people were bashing me in the suit, I know that that's because they're just afraid. They're afraid that this thing that they love so much is not gonna be what they want it to be. I'm not gonna hate them back but I'm also not gonna stand here and be hated on. I'm gonna stand my ground and say hey, have a little respect for the fact that I'm a human being and don't talk to me as if I'm not. Let's all treat each other like we're human beings."

Watch the full Zachary Levi New York Comic Con panel here:


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