DC strikes again with ‘Shazam!’

Parker Otto

While other DC Extended Universe films such as “Aquaman” and “Wonder Woman” try to be epics of good versus evil, “Shazam!” is a smaller scale film with a great deal of heart and an understanding of the childish wonder associated with superheroes.

The film follows Billy Batson, played by Asher Angel, a foster child who encounters a wizard, played by Djimon Hounsou, who gifts him with the ability to turn into an adult superhero, played by Zachary Levi. By saying the magic word, Shazam, Billy has powers including flight, super strength and electrical manipulation. As Billy gets used to his powers, the evil Doctor Thaddeus Sivana, played by Mark Strong, arrives to take the hero’s powers for himself and rule the world.

Angel and Levi are absolutely perfect playing the same character but in different forms. Despite their age difference, it’s clear they are portraying the same character, and Levi especially nails the characteristics and emotion of a child who’s attained superpowers by being enthusiastic about his abilities.

There’s also a great deal of focus on Billy’s foster home. The scenes where he is at home with his foster parents and five foster siblings are heartwarming and give Billy something to fight for. Angel’s interactions with his family are realistic and there’s a strong bond between them.

The scene-stealer of the film is Billy’s foster brother Freddie Freeman, played by Jack Dylan Grazer, who is a superhero fanboy, wearing shirts with superhero logos and collecting newspapers with the exploits of Superman and Batman. Seeing how these superheroes are perceived by ordinary people is both entertaining and also give the world of the DC Extended Universe more depth.

Grazer’s reactions to Billy’s abilities are incredibly genuine. After Billy reveals his abilities to Freddie, the two decide to test them which leads to several hilarious failures all set to Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now.” Using this song not only shows Billy’s persistence to learn about his abilities and compliments the goofy tone of the film but also capitalizes on the increased popularity of Queen’s music following the release of “Bohemian Rhapsody” in November.

It’s good the hero is done so well because the villain is nothing special. Sivana’s character has an interesting design complete with a glowing eye and evil minions, but he’s not a particularly compelling character. Sivana is the perfect definition of an okay villain,but in a universe containing General Zod, The Joker and Ares, The God of War, okay is not good enough.

While DC Extended Universe films such as “Suicide Squad” and “Justice League” mix comedy with dramatic action; “Shazam!” is a comedy 100 percent. From allowing criminals to shoot him to trying to leap a building and instead crashing into it, the film contains hilarious moments akin to Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

While the climax occurs at a winter carnival, which has to be in every other film for some reason, it is a creative sequence with Billy fighting off demons with superpowered allies. There’s ferris wheels falling, flying through the city and Billy ultimately using his powers responsibly instead of for showing off, which everyone would do if they got superpowers.

“Shazam!” never feels the need to be an epic like “The Dark Knight” or “Avengers: Infinity War,” but rather, is a film that tries to be what the comic was: A small scale comedy about a kid learning about his powers and the responsibilities that come with them. With more dramatic comic book films on the horizon like “Dark Phoenix” and “Avengers: Endgame,” “Shazam!” is the perfect film to sit back and enjoy.