Shazam! may not exactly be a campy superhero movie but once the action gets started, it’s clear that everybody is having a fun time.
Shazam! introduces us to Billy Batson (Asher Angel/Zachary Levi). He’s been running away from foster home after foster home. When we first meet him, he’s looking for a Rachel Batson. He was separated from his mother when he went after a carnival prize and never saw her again. It’s because of his latest stunt that he ends up in a group foster home run by Victor (Cooper Andrews) and Rosa Vasquez (Marta Milans). This is where he meets Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer), Mary Bromfiels (Grace Fulton), Darla Dudley (Faithe Herman), Eugene Choi (Ian Chen), and Pedro Pena (Jovan Armand). Lucky (or unlucky) for Billy, Freddy is obsessed with everything superhero. Batman and Superman are all over the bedroom! Anyway, the two are quick to get along. Before he knows it, Billy encounters the Wizard (Djimon Hounsou) at the Rock of Eternity and the rest is history.
Meanwhile, Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong) is still trying to find a way back to the Wizard who once told him he’s not pure of heart. The chosen one is still out there. Despite the 56 cases of “mass hysteria,” he never stops in his search for the champion. When he finally finds it, he bonds with the Seven Deadly Sins. But when Dr. Sivana does find the champion, will the champion be ready? Or will he still be acting like a teenager? This is where we learn just how strong a family unit can be.
If one were to imagine Big meets Superman, it’s quite possible that the end result could very well be Shazam! It’s very easy to draw the comparisons between the two. After all, both Big and this film have title characters who mysteriously become adults. The latter of which becomes a superhero. But because Marvel owns the rights to Captain Marvel, the character’s original name in the comics can never be spoken.
I’ve been a fan of Zachary Levi since his breakout role as Chuck Bartowski in Chuck. It’s nice to see Levi kicking ass in a much different way. This role is very much a return to classic form. Okay, so his not exactly working in the Burbank Buy More but you get the idea here.
As for Mark Strong, he has the villain role down flat. Here he is portraying yet another villain out of the comic books. After villainous roles in Green Lantern and Kick-Ass, Strong takes on the role of Dr. Thaddeus Sivana. I know I shouldn’t be surprised but at what point does the actor start getting typecast as a supervillain? Regardless of which, Strong goes all out in his performance. If his character’s father looks familiar, that’s because you might recognize him from his role as Lionel Luther in Smallville. He’s no stranger to playing the father of evil bald dudes in DC properties.
The meta humor in Shazam! is one of many reasons as to why it offers a fun time for audiences. What makes this film even stronger than just the comedic side is the coming-of-age story that plays a role. Yes, even superheroes must come of age at some point. Every DC film has their own tone of course but what’s so great about Shazam! is that it feels like the Legends of Tomorrow of the DCEU. This isn’t to say the film is all over the place but it’s the most fun to watch of all the DC films!
*Before you consider leaving the theater, there is a mid-credit scene teasing the future and a post-credit scene. The latter of which takes a a fun approach but isn’t without some meta humor.*
DIRECTOR: David F. Sandberg
SCREENWRITERS: Henry Gayden
CAST: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, and Djimon Hounsou, Faithe Herman, Grace Fulton, Ian Chen, Jovan Armand, Marta Milans, Cooper Andrews