Karla Pacheco Contributing Writer
Shout one word and everything has changed in a strike of lightning. DC Comics is back at it again with yet another film to compete against the monopoly that has become the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While the hype for “Avengers: Endgame” grows, “Shazam” is here following in Aquaman’s footsteps and securing a foothold for the DC Extended Universe (DCEU).
This film may be the least dark piece of work DC has produced to date, but this is far from a bad thing. In fact, it was a refreshing break from the usual brooding atmosphere that revolves around Batman. It felt more like the vibe DC portrays on TV with “The Flash;” instead of alternating between exposition and fighting, the conflict was well developed, the action scenes were immersive, and the comedic relief was on point.
It was definitely more on the side of an action comedy than anything and I, for one, am here for it. Zachary Levi stars as the adult-presenting superhero Shazam, while Asher Angel plays his teenage alter-ego Billy Batson. Although Billy Batson, with all of his childhood baggage, reads similarly to Bruce Wayne in the TV show “Gotham,” Levi gives Shazam a slightly dopey personality reminiscent of Andy Dwyer from “Parks and Recreation.” He has the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury. This Superman-level of invincibility and power are given to him in desperation by a mysterious wizard, played by Djimon Hounsou, aiming to resolve the issues after Thaddeus Sivana, taken on by Mark Strong, takes the power of the Seven Deadly Sins and releases them into the world. Strong makes for a wonderfully hate-able villain, and the character of Sivana is just as well written. It is a shame that the movie did not choose to play on the qualities of the seven deadly sins more, as we really just see a villain with primarily super strength and flight, but alas. He is a worthy adversary of Shazam, and it is very cool to see Billy Batson figure out his powers and his growth as an individual and as a hero.
Mega-shoutout to Jack Dylan Grazer for his portrayal of Freddy Freeman, Billy Batson’s superhero-obsessed, crazy hyper foster brother and low-key sidekick. In a movie full of teen actors, his role in particular stood out. Another thing that stood out is how self-aware the movie was about typical superhero movie tropes—it was not afraid to laugh at itself or at the other heroes in the franchise, for that matter. Not a real spoiler, of course, but one of the best instances of this is during the final battle where Sivana faces off against Shazam and begins to deliver his super villain speech – Shazam calls him out for thinking he would be able to hear anything as they are each flying about a hundred feet from each other.
All in all, the movie did a fantastic job of setting up another part of the DCEU and solidifying a part in it for Shazam as a sequel has been confirmed. I give this eight lightning bolts out of 10, in hopes that the next one will be worthy of nine and that the inevitable crossover will merit a perfect 10.