by Evan Newman
April 11, 2019
Lighting struck the ground, blowing the concrete to dust around him and the bright lightning bolt on his chest sparking as he uttered the word, “Shazam!”
Shazam! follows the story of Billy Batson, played by Asher Angel, an orphan trying to find his mother and adjust to his new life as the hero Shazam. The film brings out the struggles of a child adapting to his new family in a new city, while also learning how to be the new Shazam, played by Zachary Levi.
DC Comics had never truly been the shining star when it comes to the cinematic universe. Marvel eclipsed them and appealed to a larger audience by not creating as dark of a plotline for their heroes as DC has. However, this tradition has been changed with Shazam!, a step in the right direction to making movies on par with those of Marvel. The movie is light-hearted at times and focuses more on creating a humorous tone, but doesn’t leave behind the dark nature that the brand is known for. Witty jokes are often somewhat dark and sarcastic, and the main character, Billy Batson, never fails to show his angst.
After being moved to yet another foster home having run away from his last to search for his mother, Billy is sent to a group home, a family of all foster children. Despite the very nice attitude of all of the family members, the protagonist still dissociates from them and plans to run away again at some point.
However, after his first day of school lets out, one of his brothers, Freddy Freeman, is hit by the school bullies’ car and they beat him up. Billy attacks them and then escapes onto the metro. While on the metro, everyone disappears and the windows begin to freeze over as Billy is taken to the Wizard’s kingdom. There, he is given the powers of the six immortal elders, Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury, and is sent to protect the world.
The rest of the movie follows Billy training as Shazam to learn his powers and adjust to the responsibilities of being a hero as Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, the major antagonist of the movie, works to kill Billy and control the world. Dr. Sivana got his powers from the seven deadly sins, who had invested him with their powers in the Wizard’s kingdom to be their champion not too long before Batson arrived at the kingdom.
While the movie was very good in most regards, it did fall short in believability of Zachary Levi playing a child. “The kid should have been more kid,” said viewer sophomore Jay Mehta. According to Mehta, the adult actors exaggerated the childish side of their characters too much, even when compared to the child actors themselves. In my opinion, adult actors trying to be children, even if it is only mentally, is very hard to pull off seamlessly and has never felt particularly right. Mehta went on to say that the directors also failed to demonstrate two of Shazam’s supposed powers, wisdom and courage, just to make Shazam seem more like a child.
While there were some issues with the movie, such as the adult actors playing children and cinematic cliches (slow motion effect), I feel like Shazam! was an overall good movie. DC Comics has been slowly yet surely improving the quality of their movies. With The Joker releasing soon, their future is looking bright.