For many, "Shazam" was an odd choice for the next DCEU movie.
After all, we ended with a grand gathering of heroes against evil in "Justice League" and "Aquaman" provided audiences with a beautiful, underwater world with new faces and newer settings. Both movies, while imperfect, seemed to satisfy a general need for large-scale action and adventure. We got to see intense action mixed with plots considered, at the very least, fun to follow in the end. We moved from tales about superhero giants to the origin story of a character who could rival Poseidon in his level of pure power.
With this in mind, moving to a story about a fourteen-year-old boy turning into an adult seems to be a completely new tone.
However, perhaps this tone change was exactly what the doctor ordered. I am not going to lie: I was excited to see this movie since I first saw the trailers appear online. Granted, I don't have a huge tie or past with Shazam as a character and his history as the previous Captain Marvel; I was going into this movie blind. All I knew was that we were getting a DC film that, for the most part, had an intentional, light-hearted tone. I honestly was preparing myself for the DC version of "Spider-Man Homecoming" and I was excited to see the film unfold on the big screen.
I am happy to say that I am not disappointed with the movie's outcome.
Overall, "Shazam" was a step in a good and solid direction. The film's warm heart and light-hearted attitude honestly were a breath of fresh air. Personally, they were the stronger aspects of the film. The film really emphasizes the close-knit relationships of its main cast and, in my opinion, it conveys this extremely well. "Shazam" focuses heavily on the theme of found families and the relationships between the main characters really show all angles and aspects of this concept. The characters go through highs and lows throughout the movie, but the movie emphasizes the importance of finding your own family and path to stick to no matter what. I think that the film as a whole really does well to showcase different perceptions of family, fostering, and a real sense of togetherness. It also helps that the family characters themselves are absolutely adorable. Their personalities really shine through in this movie which makes them all distinct and unique creations.
Similarly, this film really is fun when it comes to its humor. Watching "adult" Billy navigate the world as this overpowered superhero character was really fun to watch. The acting within this movie is great and you really can get the feeling that there is a teenaged personality lurking beneath that adult-like exterior. Most of the jokes centering on this topic hit home and it is honestly refreshing to see a superhero movie where you get to learn how to use superpowers alongside the main hero. His excitement and joy at being a superpowered adult reflect on us as an audience; we can't help but be just as excited and amused as our main characters as scenes pass.
While this movie does have many positive outcomes, I did find that I had a couple of problems with the movie as a whole. For me, the main problem with "Shazam" has to do with its tonal dissonance. The opening of the film along with every standalone scene with the main antagonist is very good, but they stand apart from the rest of the movie. These scenes are taken very seriously with darker themes and honestly frightening images. For me, it feels like the movie is trying to take itself especially seriously during these scenes; these parts of the movie are dark and the movie wants to emphasize this fact. However, I think that, while cool and intense, the tone in these scenes work against the movie as a whole. The rest of the film is more lighthearted or heartwarming in nature. There are darker scenes, but nothing like the ones I described before. Thus, there is a big clash between these scenes, as if the movie could not decide what kind of film it wanted to be. Though both the scenes separately are fine, together they create a whiplash of an experience.
Overall, I really did enjoy this film. It was a nice change of pace for the DCEU and provided us with a fun character and heart-warming family scenes. If it is any comfort for those nervous about the film, my good friend is a HUGE fan of "Shazam" and the old "Captain Marvel" and he definitely enjoyed this movie. In the end, I think it is a great addition to the DCEU and I am looking forward to seeing where DC decides to go from here.