Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that Warner Bros Discovery’s DC Universe (DCU) is about to see some major shake-ups. Heck, they even dropped the “E” in the DCEU! With James Gunn and Peter Safran at the wheel, fans can look forward to a brand new vision of beloved heroes with new films and TV shows set in a universe after the events of “The Flash”. As exciting as it is to get to witness an in-universe cinematic reboot before our very eyes, this has certainly left some of the other DCU films still slated to come out before “The Flash” in an awkward position. Namely “Shazam! Fury of the Gods”.
Without the intertextual pull of the wider DCU, Billy Batson’s second outing will have to stand squarely on its own two feet. Does “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” manage to rise above the tricky internal situation of its franchise to deliver some super-powered fun? Does the film’s ending land on a definitive full-stop or does it leave room for more future magical adventures for Shazam and crew? Let’s find out!
In case any of you were wondering if “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” would be mired by the behind-the-scene upheavals of the DCU, don’t. Unlike “Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania”, the film isn’t trying to play a glorified building block to the next phase or chapter of a franchise. Well, it doesn’t have much of a choice in that department.
While the plot of the film would have you believe that Zachary Levi’s Billy Batson is the main star of the film, a solid half of the film is actually dedicated to Jack Dylan Grazer’s Freddy. Since 2019’s “Shazam!”, Freddy has always struggled with feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. So when he finally gets his powers, he tries his darndest to make up for lost time by (you guessed it) trying to impress a new girl in his school. This eventually leads to a conflict of interest when Rachel Zegler’s Anne reveals herself to Anthea, one of the daughters of Atlas, a group of demigod sisters trying to revive the age of the gods.
Picking up with Billy’s breakthrough in the previous film, he now struggles with feelings of anxiety with regards to him losing his family to time or to the daughters of Atlas, Hespera and Kalypso. It doesn’t quite have the same emotional punch of Billy learning to open himself up to love again but it does allow for some pretty comical and heartfelt situations. This brings us to the film’s greatest strength: its writing. Too many times we’ve seen comic book films try to inject levity in the midst of over-serious world-ending melodrama only to have it fall flat. Either due to tonal inconsistency or a lack of understanding of their characters’ core.
Here though, the film is very clear that it’s about kids getting superpowers and so when our heroes say or do ridiculous things, they feel completely organic to who they are as characters. Admittedly, with the film’s dramatic spotlight mainly fixed on Freddy, Billy and Anthea, it does leave some of the character arcs of Mary and the other Shazam siblings hanging. At the very least though, they’re given plenty of fun lines to keep us rooting for the crew as a whole. Heck, even Djimon Hounsou as the Wizard gets a few good zingers in there. His chemistry with Freddy is definitely one of the highlights of the film.
Director David F. Sandberg intelligently pivots “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” as a family comedy first and a superhero film second because the action set-pieces are a bit of a mixed bag. The film opens strong with Helen Mirren’s Hespera and Lucy Liu’s Kalypso causing delicious chaos that is as visceral as a PG-13 film would be allowed to go. Sadly, the film never quite reaches that high point again. Though, we are treated to a bevvy of fun superpowered antics set to some pretty killer soundtracks. Darla’s ride of the unicorns is sure to leave folks in the cinema smiling from ear to ear. Also, there’s a pretty awesome cameo of a Justice League member at the end of the film that will have old-school DCU fans hanging from the rafters.
David F. Sandberg’s “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” delivers irreverent comic-book fun without ever losing its solid, sappy heart. Perhaps more than Dominic Toretto, and not quite as obnoxiously expressed, the film is unabashedly about the power of family and how it inspires the DCU’s littlest heroes to be their true selves. What it lacks in visual flair and dramatic stakes, it more than makes up for with clever writing and really enjoyable character moments. The best compliment we can pay to this film is our sincere hope that Gunn and Safran find some way to incorporate the Shazam family into their new status quo. If not, then this will be fondly remembered as a warm memory before Flash inevitably destroys the timeline.
Post-Credits Scene Explained
With Gunn and Safran using “The Flash” as the event to jumpstart the new DCU timeline, it does make us wonder what the post-credits scene of “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” mean for the future. In the scene, we see Jennifer Holland’s Emilia Harcourt and Steve Agee’s John Economos going into the woods to meet with Billy Batson as Shazam. All of this is done on the orders of one Amanda Waller. Upon meeting Shazam, both of them offer him a spot in Waller’s Justice Society team. The scene ends with Shazam suggesting that the idea of having two superhero teams with the word “Justice” in them is confusing.
After the underwhelming reception of 2022’s “Black Adam”, it was announced that the sequel to the film, and presumably the potential Justice Society film, would not be going forward. That being said, Gunn and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson have expressed interest in finding ways of incorporating the character into future projects. We know that Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller from “Peacemaker” will be getting her own series, “Waller”, in the new official timeline. If Waller gets to stay, we can assume that the characters on her team like John Cena’s Peacemaker, Harcourt and Economos get to as well. Gunn did personally create the series after all so he’ll probably find a way to have them survive the Flashpoint event.
This, however, raises another interesting question: If “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” won’t be part of the new timeline, why bother including a post-credits scene in the film? That is unless Shazam, Black Adam and the Justice Society could still appear in the DCU, though they won’t be given any individual solo projects in the current slate. Does this mean we could see Zachary Levi’s Shazam cracking jokes next to John Cena’s Peacemaker in the upcoming “Waller” series? We certainly hope so! Till then, stay tuned for more DCU news!
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"Shazam! Fury of the Gods" Review
David F. Sandberg's "Shazam! Fury of the Gods" delivers irreverent comic-book fun without ever losing its solid, sappy heart. Perhaps more than Dominic Toretto, and not quite as obnoxiously expressed, the film is unabashedly about the power of family and how it inspires the DCU's littlest heroes to be their true selves. What it lacks in visual flair and dramatic stakes, it more than makes up for with clever writing and really enjoyable character moments.
"Shazam! Fury of the Gods" Review