‘Shazam! Fury of the Gods’ Feels Like End of an Era
By: Russ Matthews
Shazam is a fascinating part of the DCEU since he has Superman’s talents, skills, and stature, but harbours a teenage boy’s soul.
As audiences keep this in mind, they may need to change their perceptions of this unique superhero. Billy Batson (Zachery Levi/Asher Angel) is an unassuming teen who lacks confidence as a saviour figure. Yet, his behemoth alter ego does show promise even though he continues to process the realities of life through the mind of an angsty pubescent.
Since the release of the original chapter of this unlikely hero, Billy and his foster family has continued to serve the people of Philadelphia. Unfortunately, their methods have been representative of salvation by a band of high schoolers who fail to see the big picture of their powers. Despite saving many lives, their actions often lead to more destruction than the city can afford or encourage. As they try to work through how they can work together more effectively, these foster kids find out that a new threat to the world was unleashed when Billy broke the magic staff that gave his family their powers. The daughters of Atlas have entered the mortal world and have their eyes on universal domination. As Kalypso (Lucy Liu) and Hespera (Helen Mirren) wreak havoc on humanity, Shazam and his family must determine how they can stop these supernatural siblings before they destroy the world.
Meet Billy’s Siblings
It has been four years since the release of Shazam, but this new storyline begins where the last one left off. The critical difference between the two episodes is the development of the rest of Billy’s siblings’ characters and how these children all adapt to holding onto these supernatural powers. A different experience to unveiling the Avengers or Justice League, since each personality is wrapped up in each child’s development. Think of this project as if it was a John Hughes superhero film, Breakfast Club meets the DCEU Bullies, hormones, overly emotional monologues, and sexual discovery occur while supervillains try to destroy the Earth.
As it takes from the Fast and the Furious playbook, one thing that works within this film is the focus on family. Each team member represents one of the qualities of Shazam, 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. Each could have had their own story told, but this bonding experience does have its endearing qualities, and their ‘clubhouse’ or lair does have some great qualities. Unfortunately, like most teen-driven narratives, the drawbacks of this script are the reliance on adults trying to interpret what teens think and how they act. This chapter has too many over-the-top angsty speeches in inappropriate places to keep people’s attention for two hours. Also, the human carnage does manage to go too far for this genre. Violence played for laughs, and regular depictions of victims being gored or viciously killed become disconcerting as the story progresses.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods has the feel of the end of an era for the DCEU. As things progress in the head office, this film does what it can to salvage what it used to represent from past regimes. This character has so much potential, but this outing needs to be revised to live up to the expectations set by the first film. It will provide audiences what it wants for fans of the genre, but fails to offer anything new to look forward to in the future.
Reel Dialogue: Mixing Theology
Throughout human history and within the tradition of graphic novels, people have sampled from the Biblical narrative to tell their stories. Shazam! Fury of the Gods is no different. This film contains a mixture of Greek theology and the whisper of the Biblical creation story that can cause confusion for some. Still, it may cause some to consider the history behind the various religious narratives.
Most historians from a Christian background and those with different beliefs see Christianity as a historical faith. Within the pages of the Bible and from supporting text, people can trust that there is a beautiful heritage worth discovering. There is even a cross-over comparing Greek history throughout the New Testament. Those interested in discovering the rich history of Christianity, need to look no further than the Bible. A great place to begin is the book of Matthew, but then venture back into the fascinating past of the Old Testament.
If you would like to talk with someone about how to start this journey, go to the Third Space website and request a chat from one of our team members at thirdspace.org.au.
Article supplied with thanks to City Bible Forum.
All images: Movie publicity
About the author: Russ Matthews is a film critic at City Bible Forum and Reel Dialogue. He has a passion for film and sparking spiritual conversations.