Just when you thought DC couldn’t get any more brilliant with representations in their comic book movies, Shazam debuts in the DC Extended Universe with as much charm and courage as Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Superman, the man of steel.
The movie is already past $282 million worldwide since its global opening on April 5, 2019. With only a budget of $102 million all throughout post-production, Shazam! is the cheapest DCEU film to date yet is still sure a hit with David F. Sandberg’s refreshingly lighthearted but clever take on DC Comics’ one, marvelous superhero.
In this review, we’ll talk about how the origin of Billy Batson also known as Captain Marvel, also known as Shazam, became one of the many comic book films that are close to the heart of kids and those who are pure of heart.
WARNING: This review contains some spoilers so read at your own risk.
The exquisite blend of fun and horror
In case some people don’t know, the man behind the most recent DCEU film is also the man behind the most well-loved horror films of this generation. Like James Wan who pioneered the previously worldwide hit Aquaman film, David F. Sandberg is also known to be a director of horror flicks—two of which are Annabelle: Creation and Lights Out.
It’s crucial to take note so that people can grasp where the director is coming from when he included some of the terrifying scenes in the movie—which kind of really made the film more impactful. Some even say online that the horror elements brought nightmares to the kids. So… They’re that creepy, huh?
Remember that sequence after the opening act when the young Doctor Sivana got summoned by the wizard Shazam but was not chosen to be his champion for not being pure of heart? It was some kind of a jump scare from a typical horror film and it did capture all the viewers’ attention, enough to trigger curiosity amongst them.
Those scary sequences in the film weren’t even presented with awkward, bleak transitions into the sweet, funny parts of the movie.
Talking about the funny sequences that most moviegoers nowadays look for in every superhero film, Shazam! really did a great job in squeezing in pure, innocent humor without trying so hard.
There’s not a single moment in the theater that the audience didn’t cackle, giggle, or laugh out loud even in the simplest dialogue exchange between Freddie Freeman and Billy Batson a.k.a. “Captain Sparklefingers,” as Freddy would jokingly address him.
The humor wasn’t bland and is something you’d expect in conversations between kids or kids at heart. Not that they’re the shallow kind of humor; they’re genuinely funny and can still make you chuckle when you remember the scenes.
Clearly, this marvelous combination is a hit that even James Wan made use of it in his solo take on Aquaman film.
The movie also opened doors to more possibilities in the DC Extended Universe, which only arouses more questions—like, really, DCEU has gangster crocodiles and dinosaur islands in its universe?
Audiences of today look for representation—and ‘Shazam!’ DID that
Entertainment media contributes to the way we see society. It reflects current issues of today and gives power to the powerless, voiceless, and the oppressed.
If there’s one thing that Shazam! has succeeded sending as a message, it would be: anyone, no matter what age, family background, and capability, can find the power in them and use it to protect people, especially the ones they love.
First of all, it’s rare to find comic book movies nowadays that seek to both capture and portray the perspectives of children on things, even on the most complex ones.
Being a foster kid is something kids these days still find ridiculous. That explains why Freddy, Billy’s best friend and sidekick, became a target of bullying—also because he’s perceived to be weak due to his crutches.
In the film, it wasn’t explained really well whether Freddy has a disability or if he just got into an accident and is recovering from his broken legs. Although there’s a heartbreaking scene where Freddy kind of implied that there’s no other option but to remain that way when he told Billy in one of their heated arguments:
“No shit. You think? I would kill to have what you have.”
Nonetheless, Freddy Freeman is a perfect representation of a disabled kid in this world full of people aspiring to be a hero. The movie did its job well in shaping Freddy to be the one character you’ll instantly like since his very first dialogue with the protagonist.
He’s a fanboy of Superman and Batman. The ones Billy thinks as the “cape crusaders.” The movie creators and of course Jack Dylan Grazer did a great job at making Freddy a kid-relatable character.
Definitely so, that when the time came Billy had to summon the powers of gods and the wizard to share his powers to his foster brother and sisters, Freddy Freeman as Captain Marvel/Shazam Jr. was what the audiences were so happy about. He just kept flying and giggling as he battled with the 7 Deadly Sins monsters.
[I literally cried during the third act. No judgments, please. Just a fangirl thing.]
The Marvel Family, also known as the Shazam Family, are comprised of Billy Batson, Mary Bromfield, Freddy Freeman, Eugene Choi, Pedro Peña, and Darla Dudley. They are foster brothers and sisters under the care of their foster parents Victor and Rosa Vazquez. The diversity in their family is really fantastic!
Shazam Family gave a very compelling representation for foster kids to be the heroes they want to be and share what they can do to people they love, just like what Billy Batson did when he shared his powers to his foster brothers and sisters in order to save them and save the people from Dr. Sivana and the 7 Deadly Sins monsters.
Judging by the theater audience’s reactions, the way Shazam Family was introduced in Captain Marvel/Shazam’s origin story only hyped up every fan. It was really an empowering moment, especially for every kid in the cinema.
[Actually, a lot of kids who went watching the film were shouting “Shazam!” right after they exit the theaters. So did my brother, even days after we watched the film.]
I didn’t know it was possible to watch a movie that could give you goosebumps in every act.
It was indeed perfect casting. The kid characters’ adult versions are really accurate. Mind you, I was so amazed at how Adam Brody nailed the character of superhero Freddy when he did that signature almost-gibberish kind of talking that Jack Dylan Grazer made due to his overwhelming happiness when he finally achieved what Billy has.
From the beginning until the second post-credit scene, Shazam! didn’t fail to give an inspiring story of family and heroism without boring audiences over the characters’ tragic history.
And no, DCEU needs no saving. Just because David F. Sandberg did a lighthearted take on Shazam! unlike Zack Snyder’s previous takes on Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, it doesn’t mean that DCEU is now gearing towards a better path—because they’re already in the better path.
People just need to give DCEU a chance, just like what they did to every Marvel Cinematic Universe’s comic book film long before Avengers broke into the mainstream audiences.
So bring your own family and watch Shazam! in theaters now!