Now that’s been a while since Shazam came out, it seems only appropriate to write a review full of spoilers on MFST. I’d never been a fan of the original comic story but I can at least say that I was previously vaguely aware of the story. If you didn’t know, Shazam is the origin story of the superhero, who’s actually a 14-year-old foster kid named, Billy Batson. Asher Angel plays the younger version of Billy Batson whereas Zachary Levi plays the adult superpowered Shazam.
A Quick Summary
The story goes like this: one day, a wizard grants Billy magical powers and turns him into an adult version of himself, AKA Shazam. Billy gets caught up in using his powers for fame rather than a greater cause and temporarily isolates himself from his friend and fellow foster kid, Freddy. As Shazam is learning about his powers, a villain called Dr. Sivana works to get those same powers. Dr. Sivana had the chance to get those powers from the same wizard but was previously denied as a kid. Therefore, he strives to get back to the cave (where the wizard denied giving him powers) and discovers that the same happened to a lot of other kids. The difference is that he truly believes it happened and he’s insulted. Dr. Sivana eventually gets the same powers as Billy but gets it from the Seven Deadly Sins (opposed to the wizard). In the end, Billy (as Shazam) fights Dr. Sivana and Shazam-ifies (i.e: he gives them powers) his foster family with a magical staff and ultimately defeats Dr. Sivana.
Best Part of the Movie
The villain was probably my favorite part of the movie. Mark Strong plays a great villain and we’ve already seen him as a DC villain before (Sinestro from Green Lantern). I don’t remember him from the Green Lantern movie (though it’s an unfortunately forgettable movie), but if he wasn’t great, he definitely made it up in Shazam. Dr. Sivana’s anger is relatively valid in the story as the wizard is incredibly picky in choosing an heir or sorts. And that’s seen through Sivana’s work of interviewing multiple people who had the same experience. The difference between him and the others is that he takes his rejection personally because of how it affected his relationship with his family. Plus, it was a nice surprise to see Lionel Luthor (John Glover from Smallville) play his dad.
I’d also like to add that it was great seeing the other foster kids become their own version of Shazam. Especially because we get to see an Asian superhero, which isn’t the first time we’ve seen it (Ludi Lin as the Black Ranger in Power Rangers), but still great nonetheless.
The movie as a whole is a solid introduction to the Shazam character. Zachary Levi perfectly encapsulates how a 14-year-old kid would act if he got superpowers. The concept naturally lends itself into being a comedy as Freddy and Billy have fun discovering Shazam’s powers.
The plot itself is seemingly simple but it can feel a little confusing if you’re not paying close attention. There’s also not much of an explanation when it comes to the wizards. Obviously, fans of the comic story probably know the more but for people like me who know little to nothing about the comic, it’s a big oversight. Here’s what we did know about the wizards: There was a council of seven wizards. Six of them died because they failed to give their powers to someone worthy (which has something to do with the Seven Deadly Sins). The last wizard is dying and needs to pass his powers off to someone. The last wizard then spends years trying to find someone worthy but is too selective about it. The wizard, short on time, gives the power to Billy Batson. Which ultimately creates Shazam.
Other than that, I thought Shazam was a strange mix of really dark themes with very light ones. The back story involving the wizard and the young Sivana was incredibly dark, and not just in physicality. The Seven Deadly Sins look like evil gargoyles and there were even some jump scares. In contrast, Billy’s hero journey is full of slapstick humor and just all-around humor. Pairing both the really dark magic with the really upbeat Shazam was strange, only because they didn’t integrate very well.
Samantha Nguyen covers entertainment news for MFST. You can follow her on Twitter @mzsnguyenthai and @mzsamnguyenthai. Also, click here to read her personal blog.