If you like Deadpool’s sense of humour, Superman’s strength and the starry-eyed innocence of Big’s Josh Baskin, then Shazam! is the superhero film for you
Shazam! Asides from being a supercool word, in the DC Universe it stands for: the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles and the speed of Mercury. These are the powers bestowed upon 14-year-old Billy Batson (Asher Angel) following a chance encounter with a wizard. When he calls out the wizard’s name (“Shazam”, obviously!), he turns into a superpowered adult (played by Chuck star Zachary Levi).
Billy lives in a group home with five other foster children, one of whom, Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer, It), is an unabashed superhero superfan. Good thing, then, that Billy recruits him as his trusty sidekick. The two have a blast as Billy gets used to his new powers, but it’s not long before he’s faced with his very first enemy, mad scientist Dr Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong, Deep State), who wants Shazam’s powers for himself. But fear not! Our unconventional caped crusader won’t go down without a fight.
If you need even more reasons to get excited about Shazam!, we’ve got you covered…
It’s one of the highest-rated movies of 2019
Shazam! has a 91% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is the second highest score for a DC film (behind Wonder Woman at 93%). It’s also one of the top 30 highest-rated movies of 2019 so far. Don’t just take our word for it – the people have spoken!
Shazam was the first superhero portrayed in a film
In other words, this is one superhero who knows his way around the block. In 1941, Shazam appeared as Captain Marvel in Adventures Of Captain Marvel. Move over Dr Sivana; if the movie’s mask-wearing villain, Scorpion – who used a mechanical scorpion that shoots out death rays – was no match for our hero in 1941, then the good doctor with his magical left eye and scientific know-how are surely no match for him now.
Zachary Levi was made for the role
You might recognise Levi from Chuck, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel or Thor: Ragnarok (in which he sports a set of luscious blonde locks). Or perhaps his voice sounds familiar? He voiced none other than the smouldering Flynn Ryder in Tangled. Quite the résumé!
In Shazam!, he exudes childlike joy by the bucketload, bringing an irresistible sense of wonder to the role, while simultaneously pefectly portraying the inexperience and self-consciousness that comes with being a teen. And he somehow manages to pull this off while looking every inch the muscle-bound serious superhero archetype in tight red spandex. Playing a superhero minus the machismo and tough-guy image was a huge part of what attracted Levi to the role – he called Shazam! a “dream job”.
It’s Big for a modern audience
In the 1988 comedy Big, Tom Hanks played 12-year-old Josh Baskin, whose wish to become a man gets granted, leaving Josh with the awkward task of navigating the adult world with a pre-teen’s head on his shoulders. Shazam!’s Billy gets the same treatment, albeit with an added benefit – he can simply “Shazam” in and out of his man-muscles in a flash.
Any mention of Big conjures up images of Hanks dancing across the keys of a piano, and Shazam! even features a nod to the classic scene! When Dr Sivana approaches Billy in a toy shop, what should be on the floor but a massive keyboard! What a Big coincidence…
Shazam was Captain Marvel before Captain Marvel was Captain Marvel
Before Carol Danvers became known as Captain Marvel, Shazam was the first hero to use that name. Captain Marvel was first seen in Whiz Comics #2, published by Fawcett Comics, in 1940.
In 1973, DC purchased the rights to the original Captain Marvel, but because Marvel Comics had already trademarked the title “Captain Marvel”, DC began using “Shazam!” in its place. Not confusing at all…
A trilogy is in the works
A second film is rumoured to be scheduled for 2021. Details on the sequel and third entry in the series are sketchy, but it’s a safe bet to assume that Shazam will come face to face with one of his main foes, Black Adam, at some point. (Who will be played by none other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson!)
The first to receive the wizard Shazam’s powers way back in 1200 BC, Black Adam used and abused his powers before being stripped of them. Why he’s come back and how is still a mystery.
Still desiring more DC?
You can discover even more high-flying action and battles between good versus evil in the DC Sale, with movies available on the Virgin Media Store for less from Monday 29 July until Sunday 4 August. There are superheroes and villains aplenty to enjoy in films like Batman (1989), Batman Returns, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Superman, Superman II and Wonder Woman (2017).
Or, if you fancy watching some magic unfold in miniature, the Lego DC Comics Super Heroes are ready to rock you in movies including Aquaman - Rage Of Atlantis and Justice League: Gotham City Breakout.
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