The superhero genre has gone through a bit of a darker phase. People say art reflects current events and this can definitely be applicable. I’m not too familiar with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but a friend convinced me to go see Avengers: Infinity War. I have an addictive personality and was nervous that I would find myself in the long tunnel of films that make up this franchise and want to buy every piece of merchandise. While I did enjoy the movie, despite being slightly lost as to who was who and capable of what, it’s pretty well known it has a hell of a grim ending. Even for me, the horror fanatic who watches people get killed left and right on a daily basis was like “That’s a really fucked up ending.” I have seen all the DC movies due to being a long time Batman fan, even with all the dark atmosphere and menacing villains.
It’s no secret that the DC Universe that was supposed to rival Marvel didn’t get the best reception. The films were a mixed batch until Wonder Woman came along and saved the day. While still a darker theme, we were given a hero whose optimistic views of the world were tainted by the reality of humanity. In her journey, she discovers that there’s still hope and wants others to see that. However, each film was still connected to not so successful beginnings and the internet had some fun with it. Each release had a shadow lurking over it, but it seems the franchise is already heading for a quick reboot. Time will tell how that goes, but the success of Aquaman and Wonder Woman shows promising results.
DC is now experimenting with a not so conventional superhero in SHAZAM!, a more comedic turn for DC and utilizing a character who doesn’t carry the large following of Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent. I’m not aware of its budget, but I’m sure based on what I saw that this movie was not cheap to make. Plus, we have Zachary Levi who has dabbled in the genre a bit in a couple of Thor movies for Marvel and on television for the not so heroic Heroes reboot. Here, he shines and commands the screen, making you laugh as his young character is stuck in a man’s body built for saving the world.
There’s plenty of fun to be had and SHAZAM! explores what it’s like to be a superhero through the eyes of children. Our hero is Billy Batson, who becomes an orphan after being separated from his mother as a child. He’s now a rebellious teenager in a new foster home that genuinely wants the best for him. One of the kids, Freddie (played by IT’s Jack Dylan Grazer) is a superhero fanatic and turns out we are in a world where superheroes exist and Freddie is a giant fanboy. After some crazy turn of events, Freddie becomes Billy’s sidekick in his journey to self-discovery as well as the new powers he possesses.
SHAZAM! really brought out a light at the end of the tunnel with its innocence and laugh out loud moments. For me, it’s definitely going to be up there as some of the most fun I’ve had going to the movies. The crowd I saw it with did not shy away from showing their excitement as well as cheering for one of the best third acts of any superhero movie. We all love these characters because they’re normal. They don’t feel so out of reach. While there is an emotional arc, it’s incredibly moving and ups the ante for when the action takes place. Billy truly feels like the superhero inside of us, battling with trying to make the best choices while also making huge mistakes along the way. I left wanting to call every geek I know and convince them to give this a chance. It deserves to be loved and has one of the greatest spirits inside that script.
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