"Shazam!" Feature Talkback Thread (Spoilers)

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    Votes: 2 50.0%
  • ***1/2

    Votes: 1 25.0%
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  • **1/2

    Votes: 1 25.0%
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    4

Yojimbo

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231711


Shazam!
Release date:
April 5, 2019; Early Official Showings on March 23/April 4, 2019
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: David F. Sandberg
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of action, language, and suggestive material)
Screenwriters: Henry Gayden and Darren Lemke

Starring: Zachary Levi, Djimon Hounsou, Mark Strong, Jack Dylan Grazer, Asher Angel

Synopsis: We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson's case, by shouting out one word - SHAZAM! - this streetwise fourteen-year-old foster kid can turn into the adult superhero Shazam.

Discuss Shazam! right here at The DC Live-Action Forum! So, what did you think?

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Neo Ultra Mike

Creeping Shadow of "15000"+ Posts
WARNING: Massive spoilers for this movie and massively long review down below

Now when I was reviewing the Captain Marvel movie a month back I said that part of the history of the Marvel character Captain Marvel would mean delving into the DC Comics Super Hero Captain Marvel which is what I'm going to do now. See after Superman became such a successful comic book character many other comic lines and groups tried getting a piece of that pie by making their own super hero. And though some proved successful, none were bigger in the 40's then the idea Fawcett Comics came up. Their idea was "well since kids are the ones who love comics most and imagine themselves as these super heroes why don't we have a super hero whose secret identity is actually a kid and thus have them live through the ultimate wish fufuillment fantasy of being this super incredible amazing hero with all of these powers." Thus Fawcett Comics came up with Billy Batson who when given the magic powers of an ancient wizard by saying the word SHAZAM would turn into Captain Marvel. Which in terms of crafting a popular super hero, worked perhaps ironically enough a bit too well. See most other super man knock offs or based heroes had varying levels of success but none came close to dwarfing the big blue boy scout. But the big red piece of cheese (yeah these are the old nicknames for these characters believe it or not) actually not only came close to that level, but surpassed it. Technically out of every super hero to have ever existed Fawcett's Captain marvel is the first to actually get a beyond the comics adapation of their work in the form of a movie serial before Batman had his or even before Superman had his radio show and it's animated shorts. And yeah in terms of sales and recognition Captain Marvel had in fact sort of surpassed Superman which obviously did not sit well with National comcis before they became DC who wound up sueing Fawcett Comics for crafting such a rip off character. Which I find rather ridiculous when nowadays so many Marvel characters are based on DC characters or vice versa. Even in the last couple of years DC made a Redtool that's a ripoff of Deadpool (who himself is a ripoff of Deathstroke) and a Red Lion that's an obvious Black Panther knockoff and get away with that sort of stuff fine. But I guess when there were less heroes and these laws weren't quite as black and white you were able to actually get away with sueing and winning such cases. Because yeah in what is probably a very unfair decision Captain marvel was seen as a ripoff and Fawcett was asked not to use or publish the character anymore. And considering Captain Marvel was their flagship series it really hurt their bottom line and they wound up going belly up by the 60's eventually being bought by Marvel who gained the rights to all of those characters. As stated before though that's when Timely comics became Marvel comics and before DC could use Billy made up their own Captain Marvel to trade mark the name. Thus though there was still a Captain Marvel his books and titles couldn't be called that and he had to go by a different name which eventually wound up just being Shazam. Which is the name of the wizard and what he says to become that form which is confusing but hey so are these weird legalities about him.

So yeah with Captain Marvel/Shazam now a DC hero his significance and importance was kind of downplayed when he came to DC. I mean he was still one of the most powerful heroes in the universe and still had a lot of his complicated hero mythology but he was not seen as this insanely popular and beloved character as he used to be. Heck I only first knew he was even a thing because of Justice League Unlimited's "Clash" episode which spelled out Billy Batson and some of his backstory even though the main point was that Billy Batson/Captain Marvel/Shazam was just there to show how kind of cold and callous Superman had gotten thanks to Cadmus (and to have the two fight because yeah that's a thing that happens a lot in the comics: due to both being on the same level power wise they wind up clashing a lot) that this "aww gee shucks" kind of kid was seen as a lighter and more favorable super hero. Which IMHO did also show a limitation of the character and granted I'm not exactly a ocmic book expert so I could just be speaking total nonsense but seemed like with Superman, Billy was also stuck in this bygone era and was a lot harder now to generally connect to as a character. Pretty sure that's why in the New 52 revamp he was given a bit more of an edge and more promience was given to him as a foster kid with only a foster family and the more generally happy "gee golly" aspect was dropped in favor of being more well a general kid. However he wasn't made like grim dark or anything and still seemed like a fairly more silly concept since it still comes down to "a kid being put on this magic train and going to see this wizard who gives him all of these powers from all of these other gods". Thus it was surpirsing when years back this was actually one of the projects announced for the DCEU especially since back then seemed they were following the guide lines of "make everything dark and bleak to fit Zack Snyder's vision for the films". Obviously with Snyder's failures it soon became apparent though the DCEU was heading in other directions and quite honestly now it seems like they're heading for giving the director of specific franchises license to do what they want in their own bubble and will reboot the totally sour and non working elements of what halted the DCEU. And that oddly enough while Batman and Superman would be majorly changed around it seemed like Wonder Woman and Aquaman were now the top players with the third of the trinity appearing to be yup Shazam. This movie has been from what I've peaked at getting pretty solid reviews and high praise word of mouth and seems to be the second majorly critically loved DCEU movie after Wondy. So is that cricitism worth it and does this silly idea actually work for the movie it's trying to be?

There are some issues I do have with this such as the fact it takes awhile to get going and the climax also drags especially since it's not nearly as grand scale as it probably should be but it does overall work and I can certainly see why this is getting pretty high marks.

One aspect that the movie does really right at first which admittedly starts losing it's luster by the end is it's villain. As yeah shockingly to me this movie actually starts out with Thaddeus Silvana's backstory who is this quiet likes to play with his magic 8 ball kid bullied by his father and brother who actually gets called by the Wizard Shazam to have the powers but due to being tempted by the seven deadly sins is denied the powers and that gets him sent back and results in his family getting in a car accident and his obsession with getting those powers. Which actually is an interesting theme that I am glad this movie actually does address: the whole point of the Shazam story is the wizard finding someone who is totally 100% pure of heart and wanting to just do good without a shred of darkness or impurity in them. Which I guess sounds nice in the 40's and I get the idea of wanting to show why not everyone can have this incredible power but seems like such an outdated concept to really believe in. I didn't agree to the lengths they were going for but I at least got the idea of Snyder wanting to give Superman emotional vulernabilities and show he's not perfect... he didn't go about it in the right way but wanting to show your hero has flaws and it's their strength in overcoming them and being better that defines their journey is important. And it's also good at showing what a flawed system this is. I mean the reason that the sins were released and attacked on the world because Shazam denied Silvana. Perhaps if he had actually given just guidelines to Thaddeus and shown the good he could of done with that power when he still had more of his abilities he wouldn't of lost so much power that when Thaddeus came back he wouldn't take the power of the Sins and deplete Shazam to the point of him having to choose just someone who did something good. So yeah this story actually goes out of it's way to show that the reason no one's had this power and done good in the world is because of how stuck up Shazam was and yeah it did have him mention the flashback of their first champion turning on them (is that a reference to Black Adam BTW? I think he's supposed to be in this universe still in some form so that seems like it could be referencing that) but to seriously spend thousands of years trying to find kids and none of them passing this "don't give into incredibly uber temptation that instantly corrupts man" is what wound up screiwng him and instead of Billy just being pure of heart he was just the one who I guess did enough of a good deed for Shazam to go "eh good enough." But bringing it back to Silvana I acutally do like that his goals this entire time aren't to conquer the world or be this mad despot but just to prove he is worthy of those powers that being deined ruined his life and him doing everything he can to obtain them and that though obviously corrupted some by the sins it was clear he wasn't just their puppet and had his own identity and goals. Thus he isn't ever some CGI monster or some third act twist or heck even just some brother or family related ot the main hero who has some regal right to it as that's happened a lot lately in comic book movies. He's a guy who grew obsessed with wanting this power and feeling it'd be the only thing that'd give him solidatrity and control back in his life. And honestly the scene of him talking with others who experienced meeting the wizard as kids or throwing his brother out the window and having greed eat his father and how he went after Billy in their first fight were good stuff. Mark Strong played Sinstero in Green Lantern and didn't really get much of a chance to show off his chops in that movie at all as he was just a support character whose importance you'd only know if you were a comic fan. Here though he actually gets to play something more like his villinaous Kick Ass character: this guy you do not want to mess with who has this dark distrubed psyche who can turn on a dime in an instant. Unfourantley this performance kind of goes one note when he becomes a "well I'm going to kill your family if you don't give me what I want" and it becomes a big chase with him. Like yeah thisi s one of those movies whose big ending chase climax goes on wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy too long without really much breathing room. Once Billy as Shazam enters his house we go from there to the Wizard's world to being chased to the amusement park to the fight over Philadelphia while the others are battling the sins in the amusement park and honestly the guy becomes pretty cliche and one note. When they're making jokes about it like him being far away when making a big monologue or Freddy even calling out "the super villain with your exact power set but he's had time to use them" (to be fair to Silvana at least him having the deadly sins he can send out as monsters actually is pretty unique in terms of overall villany and power set so he's not cheaping out on that) it's fine but he stops feeling really intimdating and even sort of tragic and interesting and just becomes a one note "i'm going to get you" sort of bad guy. Probably not helped by there aren't really any epic clashes or incredible action from him. There are some good and somtimes funny shots (like him being nut shotted in the first fight or a kid playing with Batman and superman dollas and seeing Silvana and Billy Shazam clash and focusing on that) but it doesn't have the high velocity level impact you really should feel for this kind of fight. Again Man of steel had wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy more problems but honestly it's action was epic so when we had these flying shots in the trailer I was fine with them being sort of MoS like because it meant the action would be nifty. But they tone it down too much for the shots to feel as impactful as they do. Not to mention the whole "hero tries relating to the villain" feels pretty forced and really how would Billy really know about his connection with the sins and them playing him exactly? That said I do like the mid credits tease with Mister Mind. Green lantern also had a tease with the Mark Strong character getting the yellow energy ring but that didn't mean anything or feel earned. Here though Silvena lost and is now getting help from another super villain. That's what makes this tease a lot better then the Aquaman one: that ended with Black Manta still being alive and looking for revenge... yeah we already saw that what threat is he even now? However this time we're dealing with an actually different villain... granted the only reason I even remembered Mister Mind was a major Shazam villain was because of Teen Titans Go (heh wonder how many kids felt the same about that and wondered at the end how come the Titans didn't come in and give the worm glasses or something) but still it's at least a better tease of a villain team up then "here's that same villain alive again."

Then we come to the arc with Billy Batson who I admit I do have some issues with. I think it's the fact that you don't really see any examples of Billy himself being really screwed over by other experiences in Foster homes so you can't really get behind his more cynical attitude. I mean that would make sense that he did loose his family and there is an actual tragedy to that which comes near the end but... the actual kid Billy himself you don't really relate to as much. Granted the whole "I lost my mom and I want to find her again" is sad but you don't really see people specifically zeoring in or being specifically mean to him about it so it does come off as pretty callous until you get to that scene with his mom at the end. It also kind of hurt that Billy as a kid and Billy Shazam feel like totally different characters. Like regular Billy is pretty mopey and indifferent and doesn't want to be bothered or connect with anyone but then when you get to Billy Shazam he's much more goofy and happy and constantly cracking jokes and flaunting his powers that I don't know just don't click for me about them coming from the same half of the same coin. Even when Freddy is yelling at Billy Shazam and Billy Shazam says he doesn't need him at all it just doesn't feel like we've gotten the same character. I mean Freddy honestly feels a lot more like what the alter ego of Billy Shazam would by then Billy himself and that is kind of distracting in the more serious parts of the movie. Like when Billy Shazam is trying to tell Mary to fend for herself but keeps throwing out jokes about where the advice comes from which is sort of funny but feels really distracting form the characters. I do like how though there is comedy in this movie it's not as much as a marvel movie and they don't feel on all the time but there are still distracting elements and honestly there should of been either more an explanation of why the two felt so different or we should of been at least a more show of Billy being happy go lucky up front. Like when he was tricking the cops in the beginning to get info on possibly his mother I could buy that as the more Shazam Billy but he doesn't really act like that in most of the movie. Thus why it's honestly kind of hard to get into him and his part of the movie until he becomes Billy Shazam which thankfully is helped because honestly the foster kids surrounding Billy are actually all pretty likeable. I like how energized and enthuasied Darla is and actually agrees to keep the secret because she wants to be a "good sister" and only blursts out when the others figure out. I like Eugene the super gamer and his parents asking him about not playing games until dark and him just realizing it became dark and then him hacking to find out info on Billy's parents comparing it to Watch Dogs. And then some of Pedro's comments like saying the Shazam costume looks stupid or him being amazed at his own strength when he gains powers. I liked the intro of Mary and her using her foster situation to help in her phone interview but they don't really do anything with that whole college plot once that scene with Billy Shazam even though liked seem like it should of ended with her telling her parents she can't go away to college because she has to stay close to her family hinting at the whole Marvel powers they have. And yeah I do like at the end seeing all the kids get their Marvel powers. Sadly they don't do anything that impressive with them other then some of Darla's uses of speed and Freddy being amazed with his flight but it's nice they have them and I like them using Shazam's old lair as their own and obviousy setting up their own super hero family set which I hope is really explored in the next movie. Since again with the ending tag and the high praise this one is getting seems like there will be another movie which is good since I did like this one. Admittedly outside of the kids mostly because yeah the stuff with Billy first testing out his powers with Freddy and explotiting them are great and glad that though they showed a lot of that in the trailer they didn't show some stuff like Freddy lighting a can BIlly Shazam was in during their teleoportation test and finding out he's flame proof or Billy Shazam in that stripper's joint (and the joke about it later when the entire family winds up there and Mary covering Darla's eyes was great) as well as Billy Shazam going around posting kind of asking for money or tips or shooting his lightning fingers as part of a show. Though yeah that reminds me of another pet peeve I forgot to mention during Silvana's section as the head of this mass hysteria research that Silvana is using to find people who spoke to the Wizard is incredibulous about the idea of magic existed and then she dies and I went "good" because yeah this movie plainly hints it is in the DCEU or at least some variation of the DC Universe currently. Batman and Superman are well known and often referenced and yeah Shazam being accepted so much later is because people know about the idea of super heroes so... why the hell is this stupid doctor like "magic doesn't exist?" Just so dumb. Speaking of Superman at the end when Shazam comes to eat lunch with Freddy (though really if Freddy has Shazam powers would he need that validation but eh guess callback character development) you do see... well not Henry Cavill but Superman I guess walk in. I'm guessing this was the cameo that Cavill was suppose to film but didn't for whatever reason. Honestly the better bit were the animated end credits of the Shazam Family interacting with the Justice League with Darla Shazam outrunning Flash and Billy Shazam steaing the Batmobile to impress Wonder Woman. That stuff was good. And you know I will give creidt for the ending third actually sticking the family thing because the reveal that Billy's mother did loose him but wasn't really ready to take care of him so when she saw him with the cops actually did run out due to her being too young and him seeing her in sort of an absuive relationship and then running out actually did work and is the first thing that really gave me pathos for Billy. Since honestly I don't think we've seen this idea really done in a super hero origin movie before: with all the focus on character's parents usually we see this big sacrificial or big heroic moment when the parent leaves or is no longer around or sacrifices themselves but... no Billy's Mom obviously didn't have that and yeah it's painted as pretty crummy and messed up thus why she's left there. I mean Billy could just go Shazam on this ******* but... yeah why bother when his mom just left him like that? So that worked and though nothing hits the emotional core again like that in the movie defintley worth bringing up and pointing out it worked. Okay that and Freddy admitting to Billy he is jealous of his powers and wants them but yeah considering he grew up as a foster kid without really anything and just tries to be sarcastic and a loud mouth to get attention because people wouldn't look at him otherwise is really good too and again put me much more on Freddy's side then Billy's until that bit with the mom.

So yeah some problems but still enjoyable chunks of the movie and honestly overally probably came out the best of the DCEU. Wonder Woman had flatter segments and a less satisfying ending honestly as that was the previous top for me as now this IMHO is the best. It's still not super great but it is fairly good and if Silvana was better used at the end despite having a great build up and I was more behind Billy himself I'd say it was great but still pretty good overall.
 

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