In “The Golden Age Of Comics,” now defunct publishing company called, “Fawcett Comics,” created a character in 1940 named, Billy Batson who made his first appearance in an anthology series called “Whiz Comics” primarily known as “Captain Marvel,” who’s inspired by Superman. Billy’s origin story all started when a wizard named, “Shazam” selected him to become his successor (worthy of a pure heart) due to the wizard’s old age & powers are weak. The old man transferred his power to Billy, but if he wants to activate his gifts, he has to say “Shazam.” Billy accepts his request to take over the wizard’s ongoing quest to fight evil doers.
Captain Marvel became a popular character during The Golden Age Of Comics with its unique, but cheesy high concept/what if scenario of a kid as an adult superhero. The series expanded by introducing others like him most notably Freddie Freeman/Captain Marvel Jr. (who inspired Elvis Presley’s haircut) Mary, Eugene & Darla forming a team called, “The Marvel Family.” If things get difficult for Billy, he has a back-up plan. Captain Marvel & his teammates fought a few adversaries including Black Adam, (Billy’s archenemy) Dr. Sivana, Mr. Mind & a dozen of goofy bad guys from that era.
In The 1950’s, Fawcett Comics stopped publishing Captain Marvel, because of a copyright dispute with DC Comics. Two Decades Later, as a result of losing its trademark name, Marvel Comics officially introduced Captain Marvel owning the name. Coincidentally, Fawcett sold the rights to Billy Batson to DC renaming his superhero name as Shazam. The character made crossover appearances with Superman & Justice League partaking in epic battles, there’s also a fight between Shazam & Superman in various comics.
Shazam appeared in many forms of media such as a Black & White short film series titled, “Adventures Of Captain Marvel,” a live action TV show from The 70’s, guest appearances in cartoons like “Justice League Unlimited,” “Batman: The Brave & The Bold,” “Young Justice” & “Justice League Action.” Shazam is also a playable character in video games like “Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe,” The “Lego Batman” sequels” & “Injustice: Gods Among Us.” Don’t forget his face on merchandise ranging from action figures to t-shirts.
Production Company, “New Line Cinema” & Warner Bros. (WB for short) were working on a motion picture adaptation of Shazam since the early 2000’s. A few screenwriters intended to make it as an action-comedy, but plans were scrapped due to WB producing Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins” & that god awful “Catwoman” film with Halle Berry. After “The Dark Knight” earned universal acclaim & ultimately won “Best Supporting Actor” from the late Heath Ledger.
WB at first, intended to replicate The Dark Knight by making Shazam as a dark & gritty take on the character, but plans were cancelled as WB commenced a shared universe to match the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (MCU for short) WB’s first installment of the “DC Extended Universe,” (DCEU for short) is a reboot of Superman known as “Man Of Steel.”
Despite Man Of Steel’s divisive reception, the film made a lot of money which helped WB to produce films based on DC properties such as “Batman Vs. Superman,” “Suicide Squad,” “Wonder Woman,” “Justice League” & “Aquaman.” Critics & fans at the time were divided by the former two films, until Wonder Woman saved the doomed franchise. With Zack Snyder out of the picture, it was time for Aquaman & Shazam to prove not every DC hero is a dark & tragic loner.
Shazam received early positive reviews from critics, DC fans & movie goers alike. So far, it’s making money at the box office.
Now that Shazam is out, WB is currently working on Joaquin Phoenix’s upcoming Joker movie slated to come out in October 4th, I want to show you guys and gals my real thoughts on what’s good or bad about the latest chapter of the DCEU.
Today’s review does not contain any big fat SPOILERS whatsoever. For those who haven’t seen Shazam yet, feel free to read my non-spoiler article. Is it a legit DC film, well let’s find out shall we?
Good & Bad Qualities
Good: Zachary Levi (Chuck, Tangled) & Asher Angel (Andi Mack) both did an amazing job for their respective performances as the lead character. Both dudes deserve Bonus Points for their lighthearted portrayal of the character.
Other Cast Members such as Jack Dylan Grazer, (It 2017) Mark Strong (Kingsman, Kick-Ass, Sherlock Holmes 2009) & Djimon Hounsou (Guardians Of The Galaxy, Blood Diamond, Gladiator) all did a fantastic job for their respective performances.
Fun Fact: Djimon also portrayed a character named “Fisherman King” in Aquaman. It’s like “American Horror Story” with each season connected to each other with the same actors portraying different characters. Djimon also played Korath in the MCU.
David F. Sandberg did a great job direct the film & properly researching Shazam’s mythology.
Action Sequences were legit as each one showcases Billy’s powers & abilities which is played for laughs.
The Humor managed to make me laugh my butt off. It’s genius to see how a kid with superpowers in an adult body can do with his newfound gifts, whether to save the day or make it to school in time.
Cinematography felt stable lacking a Shaky Cam.
Character Development involving Billy. As the film progresses, he learns to use his powers responsibly.
Shazam’s costume felt accurate to the comics.
Visual Effects brought several actions sequences to life along with Shazam’s powers.
Chemistry between Billy & his best friend Freddie, served as one of the main highlights. Their friendship is similar to Peter Parker & Ned Leeds in “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”
Like “Batman Returns,” Shazam is set during Christmas month.
Freddie is my favorite character in the film. He relates to me as a fan of superheroes & knows the specific tropes.
The Tone for the movie is lighter than previous entries to the DCEU. Thank god WB didn’t go on the emo route again.
Billy’s origin story is based on his first appearance in Whiz Comics & DC’s 2011 relaunch known as “The New 52.”
The Cast & Crew along with several other critics, stated that the film is a cross between Tom Hanks’ “Big” & Superman. There’s also a mashup parody trailer by “Nerdist” which features Tom’s early films implemented into Shazam. If you wanna laugh your butt off, go ahead & check it out on YouTube.
Besides Big, Shazam is a throwback to 80’s movies focusing on a kid’s perspective including “The Goonies,” “Stand By Me,” “Explorers” & ” E.T. The Extra Terrestrial.”
According to David, a character from “Lights Out” makes a cameo appearance. The big reveal is in fact, Lights Out is canon in the DCEU. Which means WB owns the rights to the film. If WB offers Cartoon Network to include characters from their shows, it would be a dream come true, similar to guest characters playable in “Mortal Kombat” games.
An unexpected scene surprised me. I refuse to spill the beans.
A familiar face from previous installments makes a cameo appearance. I can’t tell you who he/she is, you’ll have to see for yourself.
A Mid-Credits Scene & a Post-Credits Scene appear. So don’t forget to stay in your seat if you want to know what’s in store for the DCEU!
Bad: A song I despise is played on a radio. Luckily, someone destroys it as if I wanted to stop the music. I’ll let this flaw slide.
Without trying too give anything away, a Plot Hole involving Billy who might’ve made a “boo boo” while witnesses were present with their IPhones.
The Final Verdict: A-
All I can say is, Shazam is one of the best films related to DC Comics. I’m so glad to see WB properly adapting a superhero staying true to the source material. I was gonna give it an A (my highest grade) if it weren’t for a “boo boo.” I’m not saying it’s bad, but it’s almost up there as a flawless film like Wonder Woman. Zachary Levi & Asher Angel managed to keep me entertained alongside other cast members, David F. Sandberg stayed true to the source material, characterization matched the title character among many others listed as good. If you’re interested in seeing Shazam, I highly recommend it for you and your family.
Bravo DC & WB! Y’all did an awesome job, I can’t wait to see Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker, “Birds Of Prey” & “Wonder Woman 1984.” Keep up the good work!