There’s a lot of uncertainty and flux in the state of all the DC Comics video properties. With all of the announcements about reboots, wiping the slate clean, and whatever else is happening with leadership changes, there’s a lot of speculation about what the shape of the DC movie universe is going to be. In spite of that, they’re still releasing movies that are parts of the current universe. Shazam: Fury of the Gods, falls into this category.
The first Shazam! movie introduced the modern versions of Billy Batson, his family, and his alter ego to movie audiences. The character has a really complex history with several reboots, including changing publishing companies at least once, but the movie did a decent job of keeping things as simple as possible. Now, it’s two years later (as we find out in one of the post-credit scenes), and Billy and company are trying to live up the heroic mantle that’s been thrust on them. It’s not going great.
The kids are doing their best, and their collective heart seems to be in the right place. We see a few acts of heroism, some new developments in their various personal lives, and then we get to meet the villains. The Daughters of Atlas are newly created for this movie (an interesting choice with a rogues gallery that goes back decades), and are wonderfully played by Lucy Liu and Helen Mirren. Their motivation not only makes sense but very impressively manages to take a look at an angle of the whole Shazam power concept that I don’t think has ever been dealt with before. I give them points for that.
There’s a lot of action, humor, and bits of the family’s lives. This isn’t a particularly dark movie, but this group of characters has never been that. While I admit I’m a much bigger fan of the original version of Captain Marvel, there’s unquestionable heroism on this one’s part. They also come up with a clever way to defeat the big bad at the very end. There are two nods to the 70’s live-action Shazam tv series, which I appreciated (yeah, I used to watch it because yeah, I’m old). There are also two separate cameos that tie to the movie to the larger DC Universe, whatever it’s going to be called. Whether this means the Shazam crew might survive whatever reboot/reset is coming is open to debate. There’s also, interestingly, a small role played by Diedrich Bader, who, among other things, voiced Batman in several cartoons. And there’s a blink and you’ll miss it namedrop for one of the odder Captain Marvel supporting characters.
What I Liked: First off, it was fun. End of the day, isn’t that the point? It’s tricky to juggle a cast where the main characters are more or less doubled (adult/child selves), but there are a few performances I’d definitely say were great. Zachary Levi is a great choice for the kid in man’s body that is Captain Marvel/Shazam. Lucy Liu and Helen Mirren did great in their villainous roles. Asher Angel and Jack Grazer were good as Billy Batson and Freddie Freeman. And huge points to Grace Currey, the only one to play both the kid (Mary Bromfield) and her adult counterpart (Mary Marvel). There were also several plot and story elements pulled out of mythology, which Captain Marvel has deep ties to. And I really enjoyed the assorted cameos, whether or not they indicate the cast is coming back. While I’d really like to see them again, it wasn’t a bad place to end the story if they have to.
What I Didn’t: While they don’t necessarily apply to magic-powered superheroes, some of the laws of physics seem to take a holiday throughout the movie. For as long as they’ve apparently been operating, the group should be further along in their careers than they are. It felt like they were making some rookie mistakes. And the codename situation is a little ridiculous.
I thought it was a fun movie, and very true to the spirit of the characters. They tied to some other DC characters in ways that worked. I’m giving this one a 4 out of 5.
Random Obscure Trivia Things: Cooper Andrews, who plays the foster father, is probably a bit better known as Jerry from The Walking Dead. On that show, he used an ax, which they show him with in the entertaining sketched-in credits.
In the comics, Mary Marvel, who sometimes goes by Captain Marvel like her brother, occasionally has a white costume to differentiate her from the other Captain. Of all the kids, she’s the only one who doesn’t wear a shirt that matches her hero colors, but it is white. I sort of wonder if that is a hint of something planned for the future.