The DC Universe stands on its own two feet for the first time since Wonder Woman and presents a true rival for the crown of best DC film.
The DC Universe (is that even a thing anymore?) might have just released its best film yet. Shazam! directed by David F. Sandberg is a shot of electricity (literally) straight to the heart of the DCU. Packing a punch with a potent combo of humor, heart, and fantastic lead performance as the titular hero by Zachary Levi. Levi brings an infectious childlike demeanor to the role which is exactly what’s required since he’s really playing a 14-year-old boy in full-grown superhero form. The rest of the cast all turn in strong performances as well, including Asher Angel as the 14 year old orphan imbued with the power of the wizard Shazam, Jack Dylan Grazer as Billy’s foster brother Freddie Freeman, and Mark Strong as the big bad Dr. Sivana.
Everything is on point here, from the perfect writing to the undeniable chemistry between Levi and his young costars, Shazam! is firing on all cylinders. The film’s premise and execution might be its most important and impressive qualities. Audiences get to see a much more grounded and self-contained story than what they are used to from DC films, and it is a refreshing change of pace. Everyone wants to think that they would a noble hero if blessed with such powers, but we all know that is very far from the truth. Instead we would probably act much more like Billy Batson who uses his powers to charge people for selfies, put on a public lightning show, and buy beer. Billy navigates his newfound power just as well if not better than any average 14-year-old would, which includes testing out his new powers in several hilarious ways. And while this film is about as perfect a superhero origin story as you can get, the true center of the film is its heart and its core theme of family. Billy is given his powers in the first place because he is pure of heart and while he doesn’t immediately realize it, his foster family is the one thing that shows him the way to becoming a true hero.
Shazam is the hit that DC and Warner Bros. needed in order to build off the warm reception 2018’s Aquaman received. And while it most likely won’t break the billion dollar mark as Aquaman did, Shazam! is a better picture in almost every way and rivals 2017’s Wonder Woman for the best DC film yet. As of now, the future of the DC Universe looks almost impossible to predict without the inclusion of the superpowered 14-year-old.