Shazam has been a favorite superhero of mine. Something about saying one word that turns you into basically Superman always was an appealing concept, especially to a 10-year-old boy. At the core that is what Shazam is—a child who has superpowers.
Without giving too much away, here is a summary: when Doctor Sivana (Mark Strong) was a child, he was transported into a magical lair, the original holder of Shazam (Zachary Levi) tests him to see if he was worthy, he is not. From that point on, Sivana dedicates his life to find that lair again. His hatred for Shazam stems out of jealousy, the whole “what made you better than me” deal. Strong portrays Sivana well, with his tone and look perfect for the character.
By now, we’ve seen countless comic book films where the character is an adult, ones where we see them grow into that character over the course of that film. Yet Shazam! is different since Billy Batson (Asher Angel), the main character, is only 14 years old and stays that way. Which makes me curious for the actors in the film, as they aren’t going to stay 14 forever. But we’ll get there when we get there.
Shazam has the powers of the Greek gods: the wisdom of Solomon, strength of Hercules, stamina of Atlas, power of Zeus, courage of Achilles and the speed of Mercury, making the acronym “Shazam.” Over the course of the movie we see him learn how to use his powers, the childlike wonder radiating through the process.
Like I said, this comic film is different, having a family feel to it. I felt good watching it. People may say “Shazam! looks like a kids movie,” but isn’t that the point? The hero of the story is just a kid. In the beginning of the movie, Billy isn’t responsible with his powers as he uses it to get back at a bully—in simpler terms, to show off. But who wouldn’t do that? Everyone has had some bullying experience at least once. So when he gets back at them, it feels good.
Sandberg has been known to direct thriller and horror films in the past, using visuals in those vein for this film. I’m not saying that it was scary, but there were elements of horror that I enjoyed.
Shazam! is a feel-good film, bringing a character I never thought would be adapted live to the big screen and I think DC and Warner Bros. for that. I know the studio has been rocky with how they’ve handled their comic book universe, but I believe there are going on the right path by letting the directors have more creative control. With movies like Shazam! out now, I predict the DC Extended Universe will be as successful and maybe even more than Marvel’s.