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Zachary Levi’s Troubling Comments Go Beyond Possible Anti-Vaccine Views

Zachary Levi as Shazam in Shazam! Fury of the Gods trailer

Zachary Levi stirred controversy on Twitter after seemingly agreeing that drug company Pfizer, known right now for one of the major COVID-19 vaccines, “is a real danger to the world.” Levi, best known for starring as the superhero Shazam in the DC Universe (DCU), started trending on Twitter quickly after his controversial post.

On January 29, the actor reshared a tweet from transphobic entrepreneur and anti-vaxxer Lyndon Wood, who has been known to post to misleading and offensive content. Wood’s tweet questioned users about whether they agreed that Pfizer was dangerous. Levi shared the tweet and wrote, “Hardcore agree.”

He did not expand any further on his viewpoints about Pfizer—a pharmaceutical giant certainly not beyond criticism—but those two words were enough to stir controversy. Almost a years worth of data has shown that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and that it can greatly decrease the risk of hospitalization or death from the virus. However, anti-vaxxers have continued to claim that the vaccine is not safe, taking to fear-mongering and making claims about the vaccine that are not backed by evidence. These anti-vaxxers also frequently take aim at Pfizer, as one of the main sources of COVID-19 vaccines.

In both sharing and agreeing with an account highly associated with anti-vax views, Levi was aiding in the spread of misinformation, no matter what his own views are. In addition to his initial tweet, he shared a link to a settlement Pfizer and its subsidiaries reached for healthcare fraud. The settlement was announced by the U.S. Justice Department and resulted in Pfizer agreeing to pay $2.3 billion for alleged illegal marketing. Of course, as many users pointed out, the settlement occurred way back in 2009, and it’s unclear how it is relevant to the anti-vax sentiments of Wood that Levi seemingly endorsed.

Twitter reacts to Zachary Levi controversy

Twitter users quickly reacted to Levi’s tweet, with the vast majority of them being negative. Some pointed out that it wasn’t necessarily wrong for Levi to question corporate America or even Pfizer, but that he did so in the wrong manner. By resharing and promoting the tweet of an anti-vaxxer, he was condoning propaganda and misinformation about vaccinations. One commenter suggested he employ the aid of Mark Ruffalo to learn how to frame his thoughts in a less harmful manner.

Many decided not to reason with Levi and indicated that they would be withdrawing their support for him following his disappointing tweet.

DC fans also started questioning what his tweet might mean for the DCU. Levi is set to star in Shazam! Fury of the Gods in a few months and had also hinted his character would remain in the DCU despite the recent corporate shakeup that has thrown much of DC’s movie plans out the window. However, now that he has stirred controversy, the promotion of the film may be a little awkward and may make the DCU rethink whether they really are going to let him remain after dropping Henry Cavill and others.

Is Levi an anti-vaxxer?

Zachary Levi as Shazam and Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddy in 'Shazam! Fury of the Gods'
(Warner Bros.)

In addition to the criticism, some tweets pointed out that Levi didn’t actually express anti-vax views himself. To some, his tweets could appear as if he was criticizing Pfizer’s business practices and alleged fraud instead.

However, as said above, he could’ve gotten his point across without sharing and promoting an account known to be associated with harmful rhetoric. Additionally, over the years, the actor has shown a pattern of stirring controversy. Shortly after his controversial tweet, a video resurfaced of him appearing on The Joe Rogan Experience. That he would agree to appear on the show of another man known for spreading misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine and using racial slurs is concerning in itself. To make matters worse, Levi began praising conservative transphobe Jordan Peterson, calling him one of the “deepest thinkers” he has heard of.

Other distasteful statements and posts from Levi also resurfaced in light of his controversial tweet. In one resurfaced tweet, he suggested that there was nothing wrong with men leading the conversation about sexism or white individuals leading the conversation on race.

He also, of course, had to tout his sexist opinion in the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard trial with a gross tweet.

Ultimately, Levi doesn’t need to explicitly say he’s anti-vax when the people and ideals he promotes and associates with, and his thoughtless tweets, speak for him.

(featured image: Warner Bros.)

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Rachel Ulatowski is a Freelance Writer, blogger, and aspiring author. As a Freelancer Writer she hopes to give readers the same comfort and enjoyment that she finds in all things nerdy and noteworthy, as a blogger she enjoys snarking on YouTubers and reality stars, and as a future novelist she hopes to raise awareness for child abuse through literature.