Shazam! Fury of the Gods Review: Adventure for the Whole Family
Disclaimer: The following article contains spoilers for Shazam! Fury of the Gods.
Forget everything you’ve heard about Shazam! Fury of the Gods. The social media ecosystem is aflutter with animosity towards yet another DCEU film. Having seen this Shazam sequel as quickly as I could on opening weekend, I was pleasantly surprised by the nostalgic feeling of watching the Shazamily work together to try to save Philadelphia. Be it underfunded infrastructure (their opening mission involves a collapsing bridge) or a team of Ancient Goddess Sisters, the Shazamily will find a way to save lives. The film’s antagonist team, Hesper (Helen Mirren), Kalypso (Lucy Liu), and Anthea (Rachel Zegler), are looking to get back the Wizard’s broken staff, restore it, and use it to restore their home to its former glory.
Family Strife and Conflict Resolution
A well-done superhero movie that pits hero(es) against villain(s) will be written in such a way to draw parallels between the two opposing forces. In the first Shazam film, both Billy Batson and Dr. Thaddeus Sivana are shown as children being rejected and failed by adults in their lives that should have cared for their well-being more. While Billy learns to connect with his new foster family, Dr. Sivana remains hardened by his traumas and unflinching in his quest to regain the power he feels he is owed from his brush with the wizard. Billy displays empathy for others while Sivana will sacrifice anyone to achieve his end goal.
In Shazam: Fury of the Gods, there is a clear parallel between the Shazamily and the Daughters of Atlas. They both struggle with interpersonal conflict and disagreements about how to best pursue their objectives. The Shazamily is able to work through their differences and affirm their love for one another. Conversely, the Daughters of Atlas completely turn on one another because of their vastly different goals and means of achieving them.
Taste The Rainbow
One of the greatest strengths of Shazam! Fury of the Gods is the warmth and heart of the core characters and their bond with one another. The story is both intimate and fantastical. There is an exploration of their different attitudes about super heroism. They work as a team to handle a large-scale threat of ancient Goddesses and a swarm of indiscriminately violent creatures.
In general, the film feels like a throwback to beloved family adventure films from the 1980s and 1990s. One clear nod to this comes during a climactic turning point involving some unicorns and Skittles.
A great deal of care is given to developing the Shazamily’s ability to do research for the case at hand. They meticulously read up on the daughters of Atlas so they effectively learn how to save the people of Philadelphia. When the city is being swarmed by monsters, the kids stop to talk about the problem at hand. They reflect on their research and realise that the monsters fear unicorns.
The first step is to track down where the unicorns would nest. The next step is to make the unicorns their allies. They learn that the favourite treat of the unicorns is a naturally occurring sweet, prompting Darla to act quickly. She calls a unicorn over and throws skittles into the air before it can violently impale her or one of her siblings.
The most cynical audience members may wince at the product placement. A less jaded analysis will hone in on how this entire exchange is wonderful for teaching the young children watching of the importance of problem solving, being resourceful, and having empathy for the well-being of wild animals.
Let’s not mince words. The Wonder Woman cameo in the Shazam! Fury of the Gods was leaked. The leak was by the official marketing, which makes it even worse.
Thankfully, the cameo holds a tremendous amount of emotional weight when presented in context. It’s difficult to analyze new DCEU films without addressing the elephant in the room. There is too much baggage nowadays from corporate DC/WB drama. Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins was let go. Furthermore, there will probably never be a Wonder Woman 3.
Seeing Gal Gadot back in the Wonder Woman suit offered a much-needed catharsis. Seeing her return to use her mythical powers to resurrect a child who was willing to die to save his found family was a better ending than an unceremonious off-screen rug-pull by new management.
It’s still unclear what Wonder Woman’s future is for the big screen. The same can be said for the entire Shazamily. The entire roster of DCEU film characters seen from 2013 onward seem to have reached their final curtain.
Nonetheless, Shazam! Fury of the Gods presented in tandem with Shazam (2019) make a fine duology for families today and future generations to come.
For more of my thoughts on Shazam! Fury of the Gods, watch my video review here: