Let’s be completely honest, everyone has wondered what it would be like if they were to suddenly gain superpowers at some point in their lives. In a world where caped crusaders and devious supervillains are constantly duking it out in comic books and across the silver screen, what child hasn’t dreamed about being able to fly around the city or shoot lasers out of their eyes? Well, here comes young Billy Batson to embody every feeling you’ve possibly ever had about becoming a superhero while growing up in the DCEU’s newest addition: Shazam!
The seventh installment in the franchise, Shazam! stars Asher Angel as Billy Batson, a teenage boy who gains the ability to transform into adult superhero Shazam (formerly known as Captain Marvel), with Zachary Levi playing the titular character. The film also stars Mark Strong, Jack Dylan Grazer, and Djimon Hounsou, and features appearances from Adam Brody, Megan Good, and Ross Butler.
Slight Spoilers Ahead
Set in Philadelphia, Shazam! follows the story of Billy Batson, a foster kid slightly running amok while searching for the whereabouts of his mother. Being placed in a new group home under the care of Victor and Rosa Vazquez and their five other foster children, including new roommate and self-proclaimed superhero expert Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer), Billy is reluctant in warming up to his new family. However, that doesn’t stop him from coming to Freddy’s aid when he’s picked on by bullies one day during school. Getting chased into the subway, Billy is soon summoned by the ancient wizard Shazam, who has spent centuries looking for a new “Champion of Eternity.” Shazam bestows upon Billy his powers, thereby transforming Billy into an adult costumed superhero whenever he shouts the wizard’s name.
Meanwhile, somewhere across town, Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong) has spent years desperately searching for a way back to Shazam, after his own childhood meeting with the wizard ended in rejection. Having found Shazam’s location at the Rock of Eternity prior to Billy’s arrival, Thaddeus steals the Eye of Sin, freeing the spirits of the seven deadly sins and becoming their vessel and champion. Returning to earth, Thaddeus soon learns of Billy’s existence and decides that there can be only one champion in the world. Thus, leading Billy to realize that being a superhero comes with a lot more responsibilities than he was prepared for.
What’s great about Shazam! is that it doesn’t feel like your average superhero movie. Rather than giving us the usual ‘superhero vs supervillain epic showdown’ expectant of a big blockbuster release, the film focuses more on highlighting the childlike joy and wonder of having superpowers. Even as the more adult looking Shazam, the audience never forgets that it’s essentially a child trying his best to figure out the powers that were given to him. This is due in part to an amazing duo performance from Levi and Grazer, with Levi’s comedic timing and delivery enhancing the more childish aspects of Shazam’s character. It’s the equivalent of watching two younger brothers who have just stumbled upon a new toy.
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars