Time for another comic book history lesson. In 1939, Fawcett Comics created the superhero Captain Marvel.
No, this Captain Marvel preceded Carol Danvers, Mar-Vell, and even Marvel itself. Who I’m talking about is a young boy named Billy Batson who can transform into an adult superhero by saying the word “Shazam.” Appealing to every kids’ wish fulfillment fantasy, this character was the most popular superhero in the 40s, outselling even Superman. Then in the 50s, DC Comics sued Fawcett, alleging that their character was ripping off Superman. DC won the lawsuit and Fawcett was forced to shut down and cancel all of its books. In the 70s, DC licensed the character and by the time they were able to use him, a little comic company named Marvel trademarked the name Captain Marvel, which made things VERY complicated for DC. When they rebooted their entire universe under the New 52, they renamed the character Shazam in order to avoid confusion. This brings us to the subject to today’s movie review, which is the latest film in the DCEU. After wowing audiences with Aquaman, can they do it again? Well, let’s find out. This is Shazam!.
14 year old orphan Billy Batson has been in multiple foster homes due to his search for his parents. One day, he comes across the wizard Shazam, who passes on his abilities to him where if he says the word “Shazam!,” a bolt of lightning hits him and turns him into a superhero. I’ve seen people compare this movie to Big starring Tom Hanks and I can see it. 80 years after the character’s debut, the wish fulfillment aspect has not changed. Also, the movie takes place during Christmas, so we can officially call Shazam! a Christmas movie.
Yo, Zachary Levi as the titular character was perfect casting. He fits this character in the same way Robert Downey Jr. fits Tony Stark, playing a kid inside of an adult’s body. When he gets his powers, he doesn’t automatically decide to become a hero, he uses his powers for his own self-gain. I also like the kid who plays Billy Batson (Asher Angel), who’s a less extreme version of the New 52 version, who’s kind of an asshole. I’m glad they toned that down. The scenes with Batson/Shazam and Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer) were great. Hell, all of the kid actors were really good and they acted like kids their age would act.
When I first heard that they were doing this movie, I thought that they were going to have Black Adam as the main villain. But, no. They went with Doctor Sivana, played by Mark Strong, who’s a great actor and he was pretty good here. But he’s the most basic villain out of all comic book movies. He wants the powers of Shazam and is doing so with the powers of these demons called the Seven Deadly Sins. Mind you, he has all of the same powers as Shazam, so what difference would that make if he got his powers? They should have went with Black Adam.
This is the DCEU movie that feels more like an MCU film out of the bunch, especially when compared to BvS. This is a very light-hearted movie that’ll be a hit for families because family is an important theme of the film. Billy Batson has been looking for his biological parents throughout the film and he then finds out where his mom lives, paying her a visit. Turns out, his mom abandoned him because she believed she was unable to care for him. There’s also some dark moments like when Sivana goes to a board meeting where his dad and older brother are and he unleashes the Seven Deadly Sins upon them, who massacres the whole place. That was too heavy, so let’s move on to the comedy. The last time I laughed really hard at a DC movie was LEGO Batman. A lot of the jokes in this movie land. One of my favorite moments was during the climax where Shazam and Sivana are fighting in the city skyline and they’re both a mile away with Sivana doing a villainous monologue and Shazam can’t hear him. The action is also pretty good even for a movie with a smaller budget than other DC films. They managed to sprinkle in a lot of the Shazam mythos from the comics, whether it be the Rock Of Eternity (where the wizard Shazam resides) or the Shazam Family where Billy transfers his power to his adopted siblings and they have his abilities. I didn’t think they were going to do that, but it was nice to see. Also, Superman makes a cameo appearance at the end. Freddy’s reaction to that is the same as mines.
I give Shazam! a strong 8/10. I can safely say that this is the best DCEU movie. From the performances to the humor to the action, this movie delivers as a worthy successor to Richard Donner’s Superman. This shows that DC are capable of making good live-action movies. If only they could apply that to their other movies and get a plan going, that would be great. Next for the DCEU, they’re going to release Birds Of Prey and the Wonder Woman sequel next year. There’s also a Joker movie coming out this year that’s not part of the DCEU, I’ll talk about that in the next Trailer Talk.