Hello, dear reader. What a great time we had this week. The week started with the final episode of the first season of The Last of Us, and now I’m here with a new article in which I will comment a little on the latest DC movie Shazam! Fury of the Gods! This is the sequel to the original Shazam movie from 2019, and the main stars are once again Asher Angel as Billy Batson and Zachary Levi as Shazam, the superhero that Billy turns into when he shouts the magic word, which in this case is not “please.” Of course, there are also a few more returning characters from the first film.
I can’t speak for everyone, so I won’t say precisely whether the sequel is better or worse for me than the original movie. But one thing can’t tell you for sure, if you loved the first Shazam, you must watch this. Fury of the Gods is by no means a perfect superhero movie, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well it actually has everything a credible sequel should have.
Over the last few decades, we’ve probably all figured out how superhero sequels work. They almost always start with an opening scene. Then there is the first scene with the titular hero, which shows how nothing much has changed since the end of the previous film and how the title character is still dedicated to his superhero work.
It was done in Superman 2 with that stop of the bomb in the Eiffel Tower, then Spider-Man 2 with that saving the children during the pizza delivery, then in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 with that stop of the truck driven by the future Rhino. Not to forget The Dark Knight when Batman captured the Scarecrow, then Captain America: The Winter Soldier with that attack on the ship, and The Avengers 2 when they attacked the Hydra base at the beginning. There are a ton of such examples.
That’s basically how Shazam 2 starts as well, and that’s when you can already see how this sequel was made. First, the film draws you in with an introduction and one such action scene, and then it’s followed by the introduction of a new story, new characters, an upgrade of already known characters, a funny scene here and there, and so on until the third act. However, although it can be seen that it was made according to a pure formula, this film uses that formula in the best possible way. The film is very well balanced for 2+ hours, and I enjoyed every second.
I want to say that this movie is like a wild ride in an amusement park, which, it is important to emphasize, is not at all stressful and, more importantly, a lot of fun. David F. Sandberg, who directed the first movie, is back in the director’s chair, and one additional screenwriter joined the team—along with Henry Gayden, who wrote the first film, Chris Morgan, who previously wrote seven films from the Fast and Furious franchise, joined him in writing the sequel. And when you look at it, it makes damn good sense because this movie is really all about family, which was one of the reasons why we loved the first Shazam movie.
That previous film did quite well when it came out. The positive reviews it received praised that the film did not strive for any superhero spectacle, complicated story, or any unnecessary philosophizing. It was just a nice feel-good family story filled with endearing humor and packaged in a superhero film that is very easy to watch, all with that classic message “even a child can find a hero in himself.” What this sequel essentially does is use that already successful formula, which of course, needed to be upgraded in certain aspects.
And the first upgrade is a much bigger and more ambitious story. The action takes place a few years after the first part, and Billy Batson’s family has no idea that a new threat will soon arrive in the form of the Daughters of Atlas. In addition, the whole family struggles with their personal problems and balancing the superhero life. But despite the presence of the entire superhero family, it is clear that Billy, or Shazam, is still the main character here, and of course, Zachary Levi is again great in this role.
Let’s remember how Levi plays those likable characters very well. We could see this back in the TV series Chuck, which you probably know. After his short-term trip to the MCU was not very noticeable (do any of you still remember Fandral?), Levi established himself in the DCEU as a real cinematic superhero. You can see that he enjoys this role, and you get the impression that the thought “how nice it is to do what one loves” is constantly in his head while he is in front of the camera.
Next to him, I absolutely have to highlight and praise the character of Freddy, who was really good. I liked his role in this story, and I have to admit that in his case, in the beginning, it seemed to me like I was watching a Spider-Man movie because here we also have a teenager who is now experiencing bullying at school. No one even suspects that he’s a superhero who might take down your cat that is afraid to come down from the tree. It’s great for me how this film managed to retain so much humanity in its characters and thus made the film more accessible to a wider audience.
Of course, the movie follows the continuation of the story with Billy and how he deals with his superhero life. Although the film essentially has several superheroes, the biggest focus is kept on Billy and a bit on Freddy, while the others are only there when necessary, which is a good thing because the film keeps its focus that way. When you look at it, this might look like a team-up superhero movie due to the number of characters, but it doesn’t act like that at all, and that’s actually very commendable in this case.
As for the new characters, the first ones I have to mention are the villains. Hespera and Kalypso, played by absolute stars Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu. As the villains, they are abnormally powerful, and that’s good on the one hand because this movie, as a sequel, wanted to go to a higher level and raise the stakes. However, although they are strong and both actresses are great on screen, the story around them is thin.
It’s not that they don’t have their own reasons for what they do, but it still doesn’t deviate much from the classic “I’m evil because I feel like it.” I must admit that they sometimes reminded me a little of Hela from Thor: Ragnarok. A character who a great actress also played, but also a character whose potential could have been used much better.
Let’s remember Dr. Sivana from the first movie for a moment. What I liked about him as a villain was that as a boy, he was just as rejected as Billy, only that Billy found a hero in himself, while Sivana, driven by envy, was obsessed with the desire for power and to prove himself. In the end, they somehow turn out to be two sides of the same coin, and that’s why the story about Sivana is much stronger. I don’t want to say that Hespera and Kalypso are now a disaster; such big acting names really got the most out of those characters, but I have the impression that more could have been done there.
The next character I have to mention is the character played by Rachel Zegler. As for her character, the fact is that after two or three scenes with her, that character will become a well-read book because that part of the story with her is absolutely predictable. However, the actress did a good job. It’s not the same charisma level as Mirren and Liu, but she’s still very likable and did a fair job.
Normally I don’t talk extensively about the costumes, but now I have to because they are one of the upgrades this sequel has compared to the first film. The costumes in this movie look really good. That was one of my problems in the first movie; the superhero outfit didn’t look so convincing. But here, I really liked that the costumes have a lot more detail, and in every shot, you can see that this movie cost more than its predecessor. The CGI itself is not flawless, I noticed some minor mistakes, but overall it is still decent and does not spoil the viewing experience at all. I must also highlight the sets that are inspired by Greek mythology because this entire film is also full of that mythological style. If you’re a bit more familiar with Greek mythology, you might spot some easter eggs; it’s really cool.
The soundtrack is totally fine. I can’t say it’s something I rushed to listen to on Spotify as soon as I got home from the cinema, but it’s still made to fit the film and dosed in the right places where it’s needed. As for the humor, I’m very happy to tell you that I laughed more through this entire movie than I have at the last few superhero movies combined.
And what’s even better, at no point did I think that the humor was forced there like it was in Thor: Love and Thunder and Black Adam. The humor managed to give this film another layer of likability. I have to mention one scene with the reading of the letter that I found really hilarious, and who should I say that the movie is full of pop-culture references that are always nice to see. There are references to Star Wars, Game of Thrones, and even Marvel.
When you look at everything as a whole, this is not a perfect movie; some far-fetched things are there to push the plot a little, but don’t overthink or take anything too seriously; this is a really, really fun movie. While watching this movie, I thought about when the circus comes to your town. Gather the whole family and see a nice and colorful show that is here to entertain you.
Nothing more and nothing less. Speaking of which, is this movie worth seeing in theaters? Well, if you’re a fan, you’ll definitely see this in theaters, but even if you’re not, catch the movie sometimes when it hits HBOMax, and you’re in the mood for something fun and relaxing. I think you’ll have a good time if you go into this movie with the right expectations.
Through years and years of consuming movies like this, I kind of think two types of superhero movies succeed. The first type is those superhero movies that don’t act like regular superhero movies but are primarily of a more classic genre, not to say a more prestigious one.
The second type is superhero movies that are fully aware of themselves, which is what Shazam 2 used as its greatest advantage. This is a nice little family movie that will come in very handy for those who craved Shazam after the first movie and for anyone who might want to take a break from heavy dramas and overbearing blockbusters from time to time, and what’s even better, this is a movie for the whole family to enjoy.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods showed that it is possible to make a superhero comedy that works, in which the humor doesn’t seem forced in just to be there. By any means, this isn’t a perfect or ultimate superhero movie, but it succeeded in its main task — to give us loads of fun and laughs. For Shazam, I really hope that he will return to the big screen again if there is room for Billy Batson in the new DCU that is now being prepared. And by the way, don’t forget to stay for the two post-credit scenes at the end.