Shazam!: Double Standards

What makes a superhero? Is it a special power? Ability to fly? Or super strength? What is the highest value that the superhero should possess? Don’t fret, Shazam! will answer that for you. Another Captain Marvel has just hit the big screen and it is foreseen that he shall be champion. But it’s just an old dude gibberish.

Billy Batson is just an ordinary 13-year-old who was put in the foster system. He doesn’t even try to fit in because he has this strong belief his real parents are waiting for him somewhere. And so he looks for them with all he has. The classic tragedy behind the face of a hero. It is as simple as it can possibly get but melts hearts whatsoever. And it says a lot about his persistence. After all, he believed his whole life that one day he shall find his parents and he never got depression or anything.

Apart from that, Billy’s behaviour is pretty stereotypical. He does not have the most intriguing personality. He’s just an ordinary kid who doesn’t know the taste of beer and has to learn that with great power comes great responsibility. That’s why Shazam! feels so ordinary.

And yet there’s the better side of Billy which I enjoyed very much. Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe at this very moment, the youngest on-screen hero would be Spider-man. Making Shazam a 13-year-old boy in the body of Zachary Levi definitely required some skills in acting and directing.

Zachary Levi at Shazam! panel SDCC 2018

Zach is the heart and soul of Shazam! He acts so well, I hope he didn’t get some adolescence anxiety while preparing to the role. Frankly, he makes the film enjoyable and puts the imperfections aside (for most of the time). The screenplay dares him with all the basic tricks every damn origin has, but he kind of beats them all. It is huge fun to watch and this is the main reason I really enjoyed Shazam!

But here begins the rest of it. It seems that apart from Marvel which has their great plan for another decade, the rest of blockbuster labels begin anew. Meaning: they get generic as hell with their films so they feel more like the ’00s. Only this year we’ve seen Bumblebee that was finally a good film after all the Messchael Bay. Generic as hell. No big deal plot-wise. But finally a good one. Now Shazam does exactly the same to (hopefully) post-Snyder DCEU. They start without any crazy twists and turns, simple family adventure film just as the superheroes used to be. Some comedy, some tragedy, some emotions.

And it is good! Definitely better than to dig through the leftovers. But I am still waiting for the non-MCU film that I will say yes, this is a new quality in action genre. And in that terms, Shazam! only marks all the checkboxes. It is a good watch without fireworks. But there the double standards come…

Shazam! got a huge response. Not only from the audience but also scored over 91% on Rotten Tomatoes and 72 points at Metacritic (checked at the opening weekend). That’s huge for a comic-book movie, isn’t it? Yeah, especially for a DC film. Didn’t you notice that recently all non-MCU films get good rates but then when it’s about MCU everyone expects more?

Zachary Levi Shazam David F. Sandberg Jack Dylan Grazer Asher Angel DCEU DC

Captain Marvel was a solid origin. It had to connect the dots between Infinity War and Endgame but in my honest opinion, it was a strong origin story. It basically had everything that Shazam had and I dare say even more. But then because of all the drama with Brie Larson, I don’t want to go into, and with the so-called “feminist propaganda”, the rates were agonizing. It’s been like this for a long while now. Everyone expects the quality out of MCU but not from anybody else. Mediocre Aquaman was a success because it was a DC film. I’m calling bullshit if Namor’s origin with the same script would sell that good.

And now, month after month we had two Captain Marvels. To make it clear: Shazam was created as Captain Marvel under Fawcett comics (nice Easter Egg in the film). But they got sued by DC because the hero was too similar to Superman. After 50 years he finally appeared in DC comics as Shazam. Taa daa!

So continuing, have you seen the differences between the films? Because it was huge. Marvel being all growing up and doing their best to give the diversity between superheroes got kicked in balls (not in case of money but reputation). Now DC serves us white male low standard family film and everyone is WOAH. Is it me or there’s something not cool about this situation?

Zachary Levi Shazam David F. Sandberg Jack Dylan Grazer Asher Angel DCEU DC

Obviously, there’s no obligation to agree with me nor enjoying both the films on the same level, I’m simply seeking some justice or at least reason in the situation. Especially since there’s a huge fight between the sides. And not necessarily ignited by the companies themselves but the fans.

It’s been a while since Warner Bros and DC started struggling to beat Marvel Cinematic Universe. It can be justified through competition and making money but then that kind of behaviour also broadens this battle to the fans. And fans of the comics are really something. I’d rather not use any stereotype of the hateful Iron Man fans who hated Mandarin in Iron Man 3 because he wasn’t comic-book-accurate. But still, they do exist. So let’s think about all these people who follow the only valid source (comics) and blindly despise all the rest. On this sort of behaviour, the walls between DC and Marvel are being built. For what? Well, just because.

It gets more vicious with each film. Black Panther had its own dis-propaganda and now so did Captain Marvel. I don’t believe it is all about what Brie said or whatever understanding of it some idiot had. It is some other reasons, too, and I can’t understand what they are.

But coming back to Shazam!. Making this silly comparison to MCU, it can be at best close to Ant-man with a more accurate description of polished Thor. Obviously, using the experience from Marvel to build it in the way it sells. They even got two-dimensional villain to be just like Marvel!

Zachary Levi Shazam David F. Sandberg Mark Strong DCEU DC

I’m kind of disappointed that they had so many chances to make it smarter and less generic because of Freddy’s superhero knowledge. He relates to plenty of DC heroes, their powers and how to use them; yet he never mentions the rest. For instance how they operate or that they don’t play with what was given. Come on, Fred. Haven’t you learnt anything from your idols?

The references are simply to repeatedly remind a mediocre viewer that Shazam belongs to DC and that it runs with all the big guns such as Supes or Batsy. I do wonder if we’ll get a film that connects to Snyder’s dark world. But what anything else? Oh, right to make fun of superhero genre. And the jokes are any on point, I give them that. But they seem to omit the fact that the film has equal flaws. Joking around at all the cheap tricks superhero film genre uses would be more on point if Shazam was actually defying it. Instead, it repeats all the moves only to turn everything into a laugh. If it has any sense.

So go and watch. Have a lovely afternoon. Get a laugh, cry your feels a bit. Relax. Or just wait for a Blu-Ray version.

PS. For the record. There’re two post-credit scenes.

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