SHAZAM!: A Movie For EveryoneApril 13, 2019
The DC Cinematic Universe hasn’t been all that popular for many fans, especially those who compare it with the likes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It didn’t stop DC from making more films as we have witnessed such interesting movies like Batman vs. Superman, Justice League, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and now Shazam. Two of these movies stood out from the rest of the pack as some of the more favorable ones which were Wonder Woman and Aquaman. Now another movie sits in the same boat, Shazam.
Shazam is DC’s most joyful and sweet with a young boy learning about what it means to be a superhero. It doesn’t so much change the superhero ideal, but it’s a nice touch on why kids want to be superheroes. It was different from most DC movies as well, it dipped away more from the dark tones they like to set but the argument could be made with Aquaman as well. DC might be learning the darker tone themes to the movies may not be the right approach. One thing Shazam had differently was also the freedom to be more carefree.
Wonder Woman bore the weight of expectations as the first major modern female superhero film and Aquaman had a load of world-building (and redemption) to do. Shazam! is saddled with no heavy, external burdens. This was a movie about a kid enjoying his time being a superhero. Something most hero movies are not able to do, because they have some heavy burden on themselves, and forget to enjoy life for what it is. It does throw in some responsibilities as well don’t get me wrong. Namely, how streetwise orphan Billy Batson must accept responsibility for his behavior if he’s going to prove truly worthy of the magical gifts bestowed upon him. Otherwise it’s just good old fashion fun.
Billy is a flawed character who often at times screws up, but when we watch him grow and learn from his mistakes, it’s how we as the audience connect and want him to succeed. We understand the struggles he’s facing as a 14-year-old teen, coming from a foster home who kept looking for his real mom. We get why this new power of his is a new escape for him, a way to help forget about his problems and finally can do what he wants. Like buy beer from a liquor store.
The movie does a great job of bringing in his home struggles, but also a new side of foster care we don’t often see from other movies. A more positive outlook on foster care, and not the usual sad story behind it all. The family does their best to make him feel at home, like he belongs, and he doesn’t need to run away anymore. You also get a nice little touch of DC fans with Freddie, who acts like a “sidekick” teaching Billy what it means to be a superhero. Making a list of powers he has and doesn’t have; he portrays a fan well. It’s also probably the bigger part of the movie. The relationship between Freddie and Billy is not just learning how to be a superhero, but also what friendships should be made of. It’s a kid storyline that also feels like an adult movie, or the best way to put it how we all once were as teenagers.
One of the things I like best about Shazam is the key actor is perfect. Zachary Levi plays a perfect Shazam. He comes off as hilarious, heartwarming and plays a very believable 14-year-old boy trapped in a ripped, adult size body. He shows vulnerable moments, he excels well in action scenes where he doesn’t act completely like this adult superhero you normally see, but this teen superhero who still has not completely learned what it’s like to be a superhero. Not only that but Billy/Shazam and Freddie are always in sync with one another, complimenting on one another’s strengths but at the same time not afraid to point out each one’s weakness.
This isn’t so much an action movie per se but a new type of comedy with some action in it. There are some very funny, very knowing superhero moments which are well documented by Freddie that he uploads to YouTube. Some could argue maybe not the best idea. In Shazam these are the scenes where the movie shines brightest, where it pokes fun at all the superhero movie tropes even if nothing much of consequence happens. But once Billy/Shazam realizes he can use his powers for more than just cheap tricks, his true hero’s journey begins.
Shazam is a comic book movie for DC as Deadpool was for Fox-Marvel, obviously not in the same manner where Deadpool plays to the 4th wall. Shazam may not be as iconic compared to DC heroes like Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Flash. But it is a good reminder of why he is still relevant and a favorite among some fans. Shazam brings the relief from those other power house names, as he is completely different. It’s a great movie for the family, and one movie where everyone can really enjoy it. Of course, if you try to compare it to Marvel movies, you’re only ruining it for yourself. Take it for what it is, a kid superhero trying to be an adult in a powerful body. One thing we all have learned, maybe DC should keep Zach away from future DC movies.