Shazam.. Not a Joke!


This movie subverted all of my expectations. I normally try and see a movie without any previous bias, as not to taint my opinions, but even this movie’s posters seemed like a joke. A guy in a ridiculous oversized costume with bubble gum looking at his phone? Really? I expected it to be a dumbed-down and PG-13 Deadpool, a movie that made fun of the superhero genre. So you can imagine how I felt when I walked out of the theatre genuinely moved. There were heavy themes about family, coming of age, and responsibility that were layered in between joke after joke after joke. Shazam managed to be funny, entertaining, and deep altogether!

Let’s start with the plot: A young boy, Billy Batson, is looking for his mother and finds a new foster family. He becomes good friends with one of the boys who loves superheroes. Billy is called upon by a wizard to become SHAZAM, a superhero who is able to transform into a grown man with god-like powers. He must learn how to be responsible with his powers if he wants to protect his newfound family.

Of course, I must bring up this film’s humor next… The entire premise of the story that a 14-year-old boy becomes a grown man with superpowers. The comedy is childlike, yet lands a strike in your gut almost every time. Shazam managed to nail the timing of every joke, which allowed for the dark moments in the film to settle a bit lighter. Every scene follows the formula of joke-deep-joke, and it works perfectly. Another thing that allowed the comedy to land was the casting of Zachary Levi as Shazam. He has a very child-like personality about him that allows the 14-year-old aesthetic to seem totally real.

Billy Batson demonstrates his electric powers!

For all of its humor, this film really boils down to a coming of age tale about discovering what the definition of a family is. Through the course of the film, young Billy must learn how to be responsible with his powers when these responsibilities are unwillingly thrust upon him. He is forced to learn what it means to be a superhero and has to mature and grow up fast. At some point, you can no longer run from everything. Billy is also used to running from foster homes to find his biological mother. But this new home is different. The word “family” has many meanings, and it’s not always by blood. As long as you care for each other and willing to protect each other, then you have a true family.

Most people had never heard of Shazam or his real name, Captain Marvel (that’s a different story) before this film. And yet, DC still managed to make it into one of the best DC films ever made. I think that a lot of superhero films nowadays will focus on comedy to sell tickets because that’s what seems to work. Marvel had originally developed a comedy formula with Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor: Ragnarok, and it has worked incredibly well profitwise. DC has been trying to mimic the success of The Dark Knight for the past few years with their Zac Snyder Justice League trilogy to terrible public reception. Batman v Superman and Man of Steel were both criticized for being too dark with not enough deeper meaning. DC became the butt of everyone’s “dark movie” jokes, even Deadpool poked fun at them. But after the release of this film and Aquaman, I think we will begin to see comedy as the main element in many modern blockbusters. I only hope that they don’t overuse it.

Shazam encounters villains and powerful opponents.

Finally, don’t let the poster trick you into thinking that this film is all show with no meaning. I strongly suggest that anyone goes to see this film. It is a great time and will make you think a little bit as well.


Shazam! Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Mark Strong, and Djimon Hounsou. PG-13 for intense sequences of action, language, and suggestive material. 132 min.