‘Shazam’ brings comedy and wish fulfillment to the superhero genre

Nick Whitmire

Shazam is the latest film in DC’s cinematic universe and it continues DC’s hot streak into great superhero films with its wish fulfillment and comedic take on the superhero genre.

Despite being in the golden age of superhero films, not every superhero film turns out great and the latest films from DC and Warner Bros. Are the prime examples. With Disney and Marvel pretty much owning the superhero landscape with the Marcel Cinematic Universe for ten years straight, other studios like DC and Warner’s Bros. Have been trying to catch up with the same concept.

However, with an overly dark tone, poor world building and above all else, horrible storytelling and a lack of character focus such as in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad,” DC and Warner Bros. have been struggling to back into the ever growing superhero film movement after previous success such as Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. But with “Wonder Woman” being an epic character focused period piece and last year’s “Aquaman” being a fun adventure film about a reluctant king, DC has found it’s footing in the current world of comic book films with “Shazam.”

The best part about “Shazam” is the cast. Zachary Levi was born to play the role of adult Billy Batson/Shazam. His performance as a kid in a man’s body with super powers perfectly captures the comedic heart of the film. Asher Angel as the child Billy Batson is the perfect counter to Zachary Levi, but also brings a more serious approach as a trouble orphan looking for his family. Jack Dylan Grazer as Billy’s friend, Freddy Freeman is one of the best supporting characters in recent comic book movies. His performance is the absolute funniest in the entire film, as a nerdy comic book loving child with a disability trying to fit in and mentor Billy into being a superhero. Even Mark Strong as the villain Dr. Sivana a sympathetic but scary villain with a clear and understanding motivation.

Another aspect that made “Shazam” a great superhero film is the directing. Much like Sam Raimi, the director of the original “Spider-Man” trilogy, any film buff can tell that director David F. Sandberg came from the horror genre with his style of directing. The way he creates the tone and atmosphere of the film are done with astounding precision as they connect to the overall story and themes. The visual effects are very impressive, especially when Billy goes from a kid to Shazam with the call of his name feel completely natural. Sandberg’s directing also creates truly scary images, while at the same time blends perfectly well with the film’s comedy.

The themes of the film also play a big part of the story. The film’s take on being a foster kid and trying to find a family is done with a lot of heart and soul. The film is also subtle with its inspirations from the films from the 1980’s such as “Big” and “The Goonies.” The film perfectly captures akids perspective of what it means to be a superhero, while at the same time, fulfills the wish fulfillment of having superheroes by having the kids just be kids.

While “Shazam” works incredibly well as a stand-alone film, the way that it connects to the larger DC universe is very creative. As Freddy is a massive comic book fan, the film subtly connects to the other superheroes that will leave the audience excited for more if there will be anymore films with “Shazam.”

Overall, “Shazam” is great film that is fun for the whole family. It is a welcome addition to the DC films and to the comic book film genre as well. The film delivers on the fun of being a superhero and brings a new icon in the character of Shazam. Just like “Wonder Woman” and “Aquaman,” “Shazam” puts DC back into the superhero genre with a focus on character. With three solid movies, it will be interesting if DC and Warner Bros. will continue this success with their future films.

Overall Grade: A