Shazam Review: DC Tries to be Marvel, Cast Makes it Fun

Shazam is a departure from DC’s attempts to make gritty superhero movies. The result is a fun and light origins movie.

Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is an orphan who frequently runs away from foster homes in search of his mother. He is placed in another foster home with five other children after getting caught in his recent failed attempt. While on a train, he is magically transported to the Rock of Eternity and gets chosen as the new champion. By saying “Shazam” (Zachary Levi) he becomes an adult superhero.

Solid performances (Levi’s hammy acting is up for debate), a self-aware sense of humor, and cast chemistry are the key ingredients that make this typical superhero transformation movie serviceable.

Shazam delivers metajokes and kid-friendly entertainment by showing what a couple of teens would do with superpowers and adult privileges.

The rest of the movie, however, is set back by the identity crises of DC. Shazam flips between a family-friendly popcorn flick and a violent action movie where monsters bite off people’s heads. The fight scenes are repetitive.

While Levi (in an unfortunate hotdog costume) and Mark Strong (in a cool supervillain leather wardrobe) fit their roles, their characters are blank slates, as part of the movie’s attempt to be a catchall for everyone while trying to be a franchise launcher. This turns the rest of the film superficial.

There’s an interesting parallel between Shazam and Sivana’s origin stories – both were shaped by a traumatic childhood and responded in opposite ways. Arguably, Shazam is made for disposable entertainment so it’s expected that any nuanced characterization won’t make it on screen.

Shazam offers popcorn entertainment for adults who want a break from drably colored doomsday superhero movies and a good time at the cinema for kids.



Shazam is a disposable but light and fun movie for viewers who want a family-friendly option or a palate cleanser from doomsday superhero movies.

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[…] It doesn’t help that the dark tone of the movie doesn’t go well with its humor and cartoony antics. The Daughters present an Avengers’ level threat but since they’re one-dimensional and predictably waver, there’s no believable sense of danger and urgency. Levi plays Billy like a 12-year-old in an adult superhero body when he’s supposed to be turning 18. His inane babbling gets more annoying as the movie progresses. It has become more obvious that he’s miscast as Shazam. […]