The DCEU has always been that one thing my life that always somehow let me down. No matter how much I wanted to love it, I always left the cinema feeling empty and disappointed. Batman v Superman, Justice League , Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman and Aquaman have all completely let me down. While I appreciate that both Wonder Woman and Aquaman are improvements and that they’re taking the DC Extended Universe in the right direction, as soon as those credits rolled I just felt nothing. I believed in every DC movie that arrived at theatres and I so badly wanted them all to do well but not one single movie gave me hope of a bright future for the DCEU… Until Shazam arrived.
Why Shazam! worked:
Shazam is the shining example of how a DC movie should be. It’s a movie full of raw emotions that the entire audience can feel. It’s a story full of fun, love and humour without being corny or a complete joke. You’re invested in a beautiful story that’s main theme is family. About opening your heart to others, learning to love and accept the family you didn’t want but the one that has been given to you. It teaches you that you don’t have to feel like you’re on your own, you don’t have to go through life battles with no one but yourself. Your friends, your family, they’re the ones that will always have your back, that’s what Shazam meant for me.
On top of that powerful, compelling theme of family there’s also one about power and how your past reflects the way you move forward with that power, how some use it for good and some use it for evil. Both the protagonist and villain have experienced similar emotions and experiences, feeling rejection and loneliness at every turn during their lives. But it’s how you deal and move forward with that painful past that determines what type of person you’re going to be. The story explores power and how you decide to use it, how with great power comes the responsibility to do good, to learn from your mistakes and move forward.
Don’t be worried, yes the studio has gone down a more fun and colourful route but it still feels like a DC movie. The majority of the events in the movie take place at night, giving that dark vibe that we’re all used to. In fact, there are some serious and at some points horror-like moments that briefly occur in the movie which forces you to take the movie and it’s stakes seriously and then once they’re over your back to colourful scenes and able to have fun again. This isn’t your average depressing DC movie (Man of Steel) and it’s also not forced with bright colours and pointless humour (Aquaman), it’s a perfect balance.
Why the characters worked:
The characters are ones you will love and connect to emotionally. Our main protagonist Billy is a character full of flaws and had a tough time growing up. With no parental figures and a lack of upbringing he’s someone who doesn’t believe in family, he believes in looking after himself and is set on one goal and one goal only, finding his mother. He’s spent his entire life searching and running away from the people that genuinely care for him, in-fact his character has been running his entire life. He’s constantly ignoring the people that matter and is set on finding that one thing, hoping that he will find happiness once he reaches it. This is why he’s such a good character. He’s extremely ignorant and doesn’t always do what’s right, yet he still ends up with powers that he never wanted in the first place. He’s a 14 year old boy that suddenly gains superpowers and must learn what is right from wrong.
The movie felt like you were witnessing a young boys journey to find happiness in all the wrong places, right until he stops running and faces life head on. He is forced to take responsibility and open his heart to others and it’s amazing to see. Everyone can connect to Billy’s character because no one is perfect, we’re all learning how to do the right thing and we all tend to sometimes disregard or take for granted the people that love and care for us. Sometimes all we need to do is look around us, open our hearts and appreciate what we have. Shazam teaches you that.
The chemistry between the characters of Billy and Freddy is genius. It’s packed full of humour and fills your heart from the very first moment they meet, there’s something very special about them. The scenes where Freddy is helping Billy understand his powers are most probably the best scenes in the entire movie with their reactions completely genuine and relatable, it’s exactly how most people would react in that scenario and it really shines through.
Other characters that shine are Billy’s foster family who really grow on you just like they do Billy. They all have such vibrant and distinctive personalities and you end up loving every single one of them. The way they treat and look after each other is very heartwarming to see. I’m excited to see more of their characters.
Even the Villain Doctor Sivana (Mark Strong) is brilliant, I had low expectations for his character but he was one you could connect to and enjoy watching on screen, he was extremely dangerous and at some points rather scary, you could feel and understand the anger and resentment from his character which is quite a rare thing to experience with a lot of villains.
Why you will enjoy it:
Shazam is no doubt the DCEU’s best movie so far. It’s the first DC movie that put a huge smile on my face and got me genuinely excited to see more. No it’s not perfect, the final battle was stretched out and I would of liked to see more development between Billy and the other characters but I totally understand that it’s difficult to achieve that in just one movie. However, despite the very limited negatives this film is one you need to see.
Shazam is DC’s equivalent to the MCU’s Iron Man, it’s a turn in a direction that will take the DCEU to new heights and it’s their first movie that I strongly believe shows what DC are capable of. Put it this way, A DC movie actually made me feel emotions that Marvel movies have failed to do for me in the past; I laughed, I felt my heart fill with love and I felt pain. All while speaking to me on a personal level about family and opening up your heart. I can’t believe a DC movie made me feel all of this and more, A DC movie for god sake. Long story short: My faith in the DCEU has been restored and I’m full of joy.