Shazam! is a 2019 superhero film based on the DC Comics hero Shazam/Billy Batson. It is the "second" entry of the Worlds of DC series.
Long ago the greek gods Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury, alongside a powerful Wizard gathered together in the Rock of Eternity and bestowed their powers into a mortal human who they labeled as their champion, however the Champion soon turned against the gods and unleashed the Seven Deadly Sins into the world. The traitor chamption was defeated and the Seven Sins were trapped in the Rock of Eternity, however only the Wizard survived the disaster so he vowed to only inherit his powers again to a pure soul devoid of malice.
In 1974 the Wizard summoned Thaddeus Sivana, a genius kid who is abused by his father and bullied by his brother, to be the new Champion, however Thaddeus was quickly tempted by the Seven Sins and the Wizard rejected him. Upon returning to reality, Thaddeus in his confusion caused a car accident, causing his family to resent him even more.
In the present day, Billy Batson is a mischevious 14 year old orphan who often gets in trouble with authorities, but the reason he does so is because when Billy was 4 years old he was separated from his mother and has spent every day since trying to find her. Billy is arrested again and forced to stay at the Vasquez foster home were five other orphans live, they welcome him with open arms but Billy has no interest in any of them. One of the foster kids who has a walking disability, Freddy Freeman, tries to befriend Billy by talking about superheroes but Billy shrugs him off.
Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, now an adult and one of the smartest men in the world, is researching cases of other people who were summoned and rejected by the Wizard, eventually he figures out how to enter the Rock of Eternity were he meets an aging Wizard. Sivana takes the Eye of Sin and unleashes the Seven Sins once more with the Wizard unable to stop him, the Seven Sins enter Sivana's body as he inserts the Eye of Sin into his own left eye.
One day in school two bullies pick on Freddy, Billy defends Freddy and is escapes the bullies when suddenly he's summoned by the Wizard, who is about to die. With little choice left, the Wizard transfers his powers into Billy by having him say the word "Shazam", transforming Billy into an adult form with a superhero costume and the Wizard dies. Confused, an adult Billy goes to Freddy for advice, after convincing Freddy that he's indeed Freddy the two proceed to figure out what "Captain Sparklefinger"'s powers work and how he can transform back and forth by saying "Shazam". Freddy and Billy spend the next few days using Shazam for teenage fun, but soon begin to argue over Billy's powers.
Dr. Sivana, now infused with the power of the Seven Sins, confronts his father and brother about the car accident of 1974, proving that he was right about magic before killing both of them in cold blood. The Seven Sins inform Sivana that the Wizard found a Champion afterall and instruct him to steal the Champion's powers. One day Billy skips school and Freddy is humilliated after he had promised "Red Lightning" would come for lunch at school. A furious Freddy scolds Billy for his irresponsible behavior right before Billy causes a driving accident with his lightnig powers. Sivana appears and attacks Shazam demanding his powers, during the fight Shazam learns how to fly but is unable to fend off the mad doctor, forcing him to transform back into Billy to escape. Sivana sees a news report were Freddy was talking to Shazam and captures Freddy.
Back home, Billy's foster parents scold him for skipping school and getting Freddy into trouble, meanwhile the rest of the Vasquez siblings figure out that Billy is the red funny superhero and inform him that they tracked down his biological mother. Billy rushes to meet his mother, but when he reunites with her he learns that she actually abandoned Billy 10 years ago, heartbroken, Billy leaves her only to find out Sivana has captured his foster siblings. Sivana blackmails Billy into surrendering his powers otherwise the Seven Sins will kill his siblings and drags him into the Rock of Eternity. Before Billy can give up his powers however, Freddy and the rest of the Vasquez siblings attack Sivana and are briefly able to injure him when the Deadly Sins were outside his body, giving them the chance to flee into a carnival.
Sivana returns and angrily attacks again, Freddy figures out that the Eye of Sin is Sivana's weak point; he needs at least one of the Deadly Sins to be inside his body otherwise he loses his powers. The Vasquez are able to trick all but one of the Sins to chase them and Shazam tries to get the Eye of Sin but is overpowered and the kids are captured. When all seems lost, Billy remembers that there are seven thrones at the Rock of Eternity and decides to give his foster siblings Shazam powers to even out the fight. Now with all the Vasquez Siblings having superpowers of their own, the Shazam Family battles the Seven Sins while Shazam battles Sivana across the whole city. Ultimately, Shazam is able to goad the last Deadly Sin into leaving Sivana's body, depowering the doctor long enough for Shazam to stun the Deadly Sin and extract the Eye of Sin from Sivana, which then absorbs all the Deadly Sins back. With Sivana defeated, the Shazam Family are congratulated for their victory by the public.
A few days later, Billy in his Shazam form has lunch with Freddy to repair his reputation in school, and to everyone's surprise Superman also joins them for lunch. In prison, Dr. Sivana spends his time trying to reopen the Rock of Eternity in vain until he's approached by Mister Mind.
Why It Rocks
- The film has a consistent tone with plenty of entertaining humor and heart, completely ditching the dark and grim tone of the DCEU altogether.
- That being said, the movie isn't overly cheesy and does have its serious moments.
- Billy Batson is an interesting character who is an orphan who is a troublemaker who just wants to be able to see his mom again. When he does turn into a superhero, it provides the interesting conflict of him not being able to use his powers properly and he ends up using them to show off, and eventually learns to use his powers for good and not just fame and to accept his new family.
- Zachary Levi was practically born to play the role of Shazam (As he is a living manchild according to himself), with him oozing with charisma everytime he's on screen.
- Asher Angels also portay's Billy's more cynical and conflicted side as a child who wants to grow up too soon very well.
- The movie doesn't rush directly to the part where Billy gets his powers and instead takes the time to develop the environment Billy is in and the characters living in it.
- The Vasquez Family are great supporting characters, especially Freddy Freeman who gets the most focus out of all of them and is a great 'manager' for Billy since he knows a lot about superheroes. The family also serves as one of the few cases of Foster homes being portrayed positively in film.
- The movie has positive message about the values of both childhood and adulthood in different ways.
- Extremely faithful to the New 52 Shazam comics which have been well received, as well as other eras of the comic such as the Golden Age Shazam books.
- Hilarious comedy, such as the power testing scenes that are similar to the likes of the ones in the first Spider-Man movie, and it's a nice breath of fresh air for the DCEU which is known for being dark and grim.
- While the movie has many references to the DCEU, none of them are intrusive to the plot of the movie and some of them allow for great comedy moments.
- Dr. Sivana is an entertaining villain with a great performance by Mark Strong. His character is mainly adapted from the New 52 incarnation with new additions. His conflict with Billy Batson is also effective as both share many similarities but learned different lessons from their experiences.
- It embraces the goofiness of superheroes and makes fun of it, with Billy not being able to say Shazam with a straight face. The film also effectively mocks the fact that villains often have long monologues by having Billy say he couldn't hear Sivana and his speech because he was a mile away.
- Effective CGI with the Seven Deadly Sins which feel like a callback to the effects in the Ghostbusters films.
- The film has the same vibe as 80s kids flicks such as The Goonies, Gremlins, and of course Big (The main inspiration for the movie), which gives the movie a creative and directorial edge.
- The action is effective, the third act is actually memorable and has an interesting twist that keeps it from getting stale like most DCEU third acts are.
- Angry Santa is a hillarious running gag.
- All of the Shazam family appear and become Champions as well.
- The credits is also wonderfully animated and is accompanied with the very fitting theme "I Don't Want to Grow Up" by The Ramones.
- The climax, while entertaining, goes on for a little too long.
- Although Mark Strong did a very solid performance, and despite the character being given a compelling backstory that makes his evil motivations understandable, Dr. Sivana doesn't have much character development after the halfway point of the movie.
- Several points of the movie shift the tone into more of a horror film (which can be attributed to the director David F. Sandberg being mainly known for horror films), these sudden and drastic shifts between comedy and horror can be jarring.
- Due to Henry Cavill taking a hiatus from franchise at the time the movie was filmed, Superman's cameo appearance was severely reduced. Superman had to be played by a stunt double and his face was never visible in camera.
- Shazam's original name in the early comics was "Captain Marvel", but was later renamed to Shazam due to a legal dispute with Marvel, who also have a character named Captain Marvel. By complete coincidence, both Shazam and Captain Marvel had their first live action film adaptations released around the same time in Spring 2019.