Offer something fresh, and the audience will flock
The DC universe is at its best when it doesn’t attempt to compete with those around it. Marvel is a completely different and unique entity, and by pitting its heroes against those incredibly well established in cinema, DC will only dissolve in comparison. But films like Wonder Woman, and now Shazam!, establish the unique heroes DC holds dear because of their individuality, creating their own stories and showing off how original they actually are.
Billy Batson (Asher Angel) runs from every care home he is placed in. In a lifelong search for his lost mother, he moves from city to city, refusing to give up trying to find her. Placed in a new home owned by two former care home kids, Billy gains four new siblings, and a room mate in Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer). However, when Billy is drawn to a distant cavern by an unknown force, he is granted the power of Shazam!, becoming a 13-year-old maverick, with the greatest powers in the galaxy, asking his super-hero obsessed roommate for help establish exactly what his new powers are.
There is an energy and a vibrancy to Shazam! DC has never tried to actualise before. It’s a comedic romp through the mind of a teenager, with a fully committed actor in Zachary Levi taking the role seriously, whilst completely understanding the humour of the piece. The comparison between Levi’s Shazam and young Angel‘s Billy Batson is a little chaotic at times, but it works on a believable enough level to make Shazam! both watchable and fun. The humour hits home just as it should, though the feature could rarely be described as hilarious.
Its joyous nature allows it to slip in places where a more visually adept and mature piece would be criticised, but there’s an effort from writer Henry Gayden and director David F. Sandberg to make this an enjoyable film, rather than aiming for a complete piece of work. Shazam! is far more relatable than DC has been for some time, seeming as if the fresh minds of Sandberg and Gayden have given the franchise a new light to shine from. There is finally an individual auror around DC, making it feel as if it were its own entity, rather than a mere copycat.
With two female orientated releases slated for 2020, there is a clear a change of path, and an understanding of where they have been going wrong with their barrage of huge heroes and constant reboots. Offer something fresh, and the audience will flock. Especially when it comes from a genre as enormous as the super hero film.
Shazam! Is the re-steadying of that vision after 2017’s Wonder Woman, and it’s individual style, great humour and unique personality proves DC can make great films, just not when they constantly overthink their end product.
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