The seventh instalment in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) and directed by David F. Sandberg, Shazam! follows a newly fostered young boy, Billy Batson (Asher Angel) who, whilst in search of his mother, is chosen by the ancient wizard Shazam (Djimon Hounsou) as his new champion and receives unexpected superpowers. With his newfound ability to transform into an adult superhero (Zachary Levi) and his new friend Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer), Billy must stop the evil Dr Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong) and the Seven Deadly Enemies of Man.
Shazam! instantly feels like a fresh addition to the DC Universe, promising a more exciting future for the superhero franchise after the disappointment of films such as Justice League and Batman v Superman. And whilst the Aquaman and Wonder Woman origin films were two of the more successful films of the bunch, they still didn’t feel quite as wholesome as this latest instalment does.
A more light-hearted superhero film with a coming-of-age premise that focuses on family bonds and the importance of friendships (all the while experimenting with newfound superpowers), Shazam! has a real sense of fun and comradeship with plenty of well-written humour.
Director Sandberg’s previous feature-length films include Annabelle: Creation and Lights Out, and you can certainly feel the tones of horror running through this film. And maybe that’s why the villainous characters work better than they have any DC film so far, as they are scary and impacting enough without feeling overworked.
Zachary Levi, Asher Angel and Jack Dylan Grazer are all brilliant and you really find yourself rooting for them all. And that’s what’s so great about this film. The way that these characters come together and the brilliant comedy chemistry between them, especially in some of the final sequences with the addition of some more great actors, means that you get to like every single character.
Levi plays a teenage boy in an adult’s body who has just discovered that he has superpowers brilliantly. He has a lot of fun with the role and you can really feel his energy. Alongside Grazer, as well, who you may recognise from the recent adaptation of IT, the two bounce off of each other so well. Grazer is really able to shine being outside of a larger group and it is his chemistry with both Levi and Angel that gives this film so much genuine humour.
Shazam! exceeds where other DC films have yet to be completely successful because it works on every level, bringing together humour, heart, emotion, and action, without relying on any aspect too heavily or leaving anything behind. Most of all, it is because the comedy feels so effortlessly authentic and that the brilliant cast works so well together that it’s impossible not to have a lot of fun with this film.