The Column: The Shazam Movie… “Just Say The Word”! Captain Marvel No Longer!

Shazam

Welcome to the Column where I talk about the latest film from the DC Universe, Shazam.

Shazam is the latest entry into the much maligned DC Extended Universe. After the rousing success of Aquaman, DC would be hoping that this turns out to be another hit.

Now I have to admit, I love DC but like so many others, with the exception of Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Man of Steel (Superman), to an extent haven’t been a fan. But Shazam is something quite different.

Shazam has always been something quite different; he was a 10 year old kid who was never a sidekick and directly became a superhero on his own. I think that’s something that was really unique, especially in the olden days. Shazam who was, till recently, referred to as Captain Marvel, was a staple of the DC Universe and was a much underrated part of it.

Shazam in Comics:

Shazam was one of the few characters who really benefited from the New 52. The excellent writer Geoff Johns paired with the amazing artist Gary Frank created an epic Shazam run that stands as the biggest inspiration for the film. Before that story, while Shazam has had his own comics at times and was a major character, I don’t believe that he was ever really used all that much from what I have read.

The New 52 Shazam series serves as the one that the movie seems to have based itself upon. While the villain has been regrettably changed, the origin, the family and the back-story all seem to line up with the book. If you are looking for one book to read before the movie, Pick up Shazam from the New 52.

The synopsis of the film reads as:

      “We all have a superhero inside us; it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s (Asher Angel) case, by shouting out one word—SHAZAM!—this streetwise 14-year-old foster kid can turn into the adult Super Hero Shazam (Zachary Levi), courtesy of an ancient wizard (Djimon Hounsou). Still a kid at heart—inside a ripped, godlike body—Shazam revels in this adult version of himself by doing what any teen would do with superpowers: have fun with them! Can he fly? Does he have X-ray vision? Can he shoot lightning out of his hands? Can he skip his social studies test? Shazam sets out to test the limits of his abilities with the joyful recklessness of a child. But he’ll need to master these powers quickly in order to fight the deadly forces of evil controlled by Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong).”

The Movie:

I always scoff when people say Marvel movies should be light hearted and DC should be funny. Really? That’s a stupid idea. Look, every character thrives in a medium of their own. If you consider the Punisher, he always thrives in violent stories but there is also a story of romance that could be told, a story of life and death with his children; THERE IS NO NEED TO RESTRICT THE TONE. I love Spider-man, whether he is joking and fighting a joke villain or fighting a major baddie with heavy stakes. There is no one tone for a movie.

As a 14 year old in a foster family with other kids, it’s obviously going to be a story about family.  Shazam as a character is the ultimate symbol of wish fulfillment. Any 14 year old hasn’t yet faced the real world and would be mostly optimistic. That sense of fun and comedy with a lot of heart is what I expected from this movie and from the trailers; I think that’s the style they are going for.

The future:

I am very calmly optimistic that Shazam will be a success. The early reviews have been spectacular and I really hope it is green lighted for a sequel as soon as possible. One of the biggest misses was Black Adam and the sequel should definitely have him. More than him with the Justice League; I am much more excited about Black Adam vs Shazam and that should definitely happen.

Let me know what you think of this column at marveldcallaccess@gmail.com

Directed by David F. Sandberg, Shazam! Stars Asher Angel as Billy Batson, Zachary Levi as Shazam, Mark Strong as Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, Djimon Hounsou as the ancient wizard Shazam, Grace Fulton as Mary Bromfield, Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddy Freeman, Ian Chen as Eugene Choi, Jovan Armand as Pedro Peña, Faithe Herman as Darla Dudley, Cooper Andrews as Victor Vásquez and Marta Milans as Rosa Vásquez. The film hits theaters April 5.

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