Shazam! is the newest addition to the Worlds of DC films and the first DC/WB film to come out this year. Directed by David F. Sandberg and starring Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, and Jack Dylan Glazer, the film follows an orphan named Billy Baston to his new foster home and his adventure after getting the powers of the wizard Shazam. With the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of the Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury, we watch as Billy Baston becomes a hero and a member of a family.
With many of the But Why Tho? contributors having watched the film opening weekend, here are some of their thoughts on the film.
1. Did you go into Shazam! with any expectations, what were they?
Charles: I’ve been keeping up with the current run of Shazam in the comics and hoped it would capture that same tone, and fun.
Nikko: I’ve been a fan of David F. Sandberg ever since watching his Lights Out short back in late 2015. He’s done some incredible horror films since then, which made me a bit worried about him taking on this kind of film. However, James Wan proved that you can transition from horror to superhero films, so I had pretty high expectations of what could be done with this film.
CJ: I like the character of Billy Batson, and was expecting a film that was Superman meets Big; funny, heartwarming, and heroic.
Ash: I knew absolutely nothing about the character going into this film so I didn’t really have any expectations.
Ian: I was expecting something different while also continuing the lighter tone that the DCEU has been moving towards. I enjoyed Aquaman was really hoping that DC would continue to push either the lighter tone that Aquaman had or the tonal consistency that Wonder Woman had for the DCEU moving forward. Shazam was a character that I was familiar with but didn’t know very much about his lore. Overall, I hoping for a good movie to continue the DCEU’s path to redemption.
Matt: I had very little expectations going into this movie as I have never really cared for the character and wasn’t sure if the lighter tone of this movie was going to work. However, I have been a big fan of Zachary Levi since his days of Chuck so I was intrigued to see this movie.
Kate: I had very little exposure to Shazam before the New 52, and honestly beyond the animated portrayals I didn’t really care for him. Because of that, I didn’t know what to expect, and Zachary Levi’s suit kind of set the bar low.
2. Did Shazam meet your expectations?
Charles: Oh yeah.
Nikko: Definitely. This has easily become one of my favorite DCEU films that have come out.
CJ: Most definitely!
Ash: I was pleasantly surprised by this film. I thought the story and characters were fantastic and the performances were really well done. Zachary Levi and Jack Dylan Grazer, in particular, did a great job!
Ian: Absolutely. I loved the film. It’s without a doubt my favorite DCEU film to date.
Matt: It did, as you could tell that people actually cared about this movie and the characters they were portraying.
Kate: It blew past any bar that I had set. I loved this film and it made me love a character I had absolutely no attachment to. It actually brought me back to Phase 1 Marvel, in that the writers and director took the time and care to build out a world we could come into and learn and love the characters.
3. Who was your favorite character?
Charles: Billy Batson. I liked his character arc a lot.
Nikko: My favorite character has to be Billy Batson / Shazam. Both Zachary Levi and Asher Angel did a phenomenal job with bringing this character to life. I’m very much looking forward to see them play this character again.
CJ: Freddy Freeman. I could relate to him, being a huge superhero/comic book fan, and his rapport with Billy was great. Plus he had some of the funniest moments in the movie!
Ash: Freddy Freeman was my favorite character he brought so much energy to the film and his interactions with Billy Batson were definitely the highlight of the story.
Ian: I’m torn between Billy and Freddy. I really liked Billy’s character and felt like he had a strong story arc throughout the movie but I definitely can relate to Freddy a lot more. Like CJ stated, Freddy, being a huge superhero nerd was something that was instantly relatable to me and I thought he definitely stole the show in a lot of the scenes he was in.
Matt: My favorite character was Shazam. Zachary Levi did a great job of playing a child in superheroes body. He really embodied the character and just like in Chuck, Zachary Levi did a fantastic job of playing a clueless person despite being the most powerful person in the room. I do want to mention that overall the characters and cast of this movie were fantastic.
Kate: Zachary Levi playing Billy Baston playing Shazam is my favorite. Levi brought joy and charisma to the role that worked on multiple levels. His cosutme may have been off but the charisma and pure child-like excitement and joy he brought to the role was much needed and well-delivered.
4. What was your favorite moment?
Charles: I can’t say. SPOILERS!
Nikko: My favorite part, which was shown in the trailer, was when Billy jumps off the roof and screams “SHAZAM!” It was just so amazing to see him take off like that.
CJ: Shazam’s first fight with Doctor Sivana. It immediately sold Sivana as a threat and made you fear for Billy’s life.
Ash: Freddy and Billy figuring out Billy’s powerset, it really felt like two teenagers screwing around and it was so much fun to watch.
Ian: The convenience store scene. I loved every second of it.
Matt: When Shazam meets Doctor Sivana for the first time and has no clue what is going on. I also really I enjoyed Doctor Sivana paying his terrible family a visit. The design of the Seven Deadly Sins was great and just gave a sense of real hatred he had towards his dad and brother overall.
Kate: Silvana’s origin story in the opening. I’m a sucker for a villain whose origin makes him sympathetic. Sure he’s a bad guy, but his childhood is absolutely awful. It does a lot to set up the character as both his own person and as a foil to Billy.
5. Could it have done something better?
Charles: I would’ve liked a little more diversity in some of the villain design choices.
Nikko: Nothing really made me care about the villain. He’s definitely one of the better ones from the DCEU, but I had no real emotion when he showed up on screen. I’m not expecting Black Adam to automatically be thrown in, but Mark Strong as Thaddeus Sivana just didn’t work for me.
CJ: I feel like the final fight could have been a bit shorter; just Sivana versus Billy and his family.
Ash: I think the third act was just a bit too long and I would have preferred if the final battle was more focused.
Ian: That Superman cameo at the end could’ve been taken out entirely. It didn’t add anything and felt forced and shoehorned.
Matt: The final battle could have been a little better, I wish little more focused on Sivana verse Billy.
Kate: Costuming. Although the creature design is amazing, Levi’s costume remains the biggest visual flaw in the film.
6. Review the movie in one sentence:
Charles: A fun family adventure of, humor, heroics and learning about yourself and your place. 9/10 wizards of the council.
Nikko: A right step in the right direction, Shazam! is an incredible film for all superhero fans and families to enjoy. 8/10
CJ: Hilarious, heartwarming, and heroic, Shazam is definitely the best film of the current DC era. 9/10 Lightning Bolts.
Ash: Just a great time at the movies, fun, and action packed! One of the best DC films out there. 9/10
Ian: Shazam! is super fun, action-packed, emotional, surprisingly dark (but not in the unbearable brooding way previous DCEU films have been), and even almost gory at times. It’s definitely one of my favorite films of the year and I highly recommend seeing it. 9/10
Matt: Shazam! is the best film of the current DC era objectively. This is a superhero movie that is actually for kids and families and just a fantastic watch. 8.5/10 Flying Batmen
Kate: Shazam! is the first true all-ages comic book film, with a heart of gold, joy, and a grounding in finding your family, it’s a must see. – 8.5/10