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Shazam Review

DC finally stands a fighting chance against Marvel's monopoly on the cinematic universe, and superhero genre universally. While far from equal footing, Aquaman propelled it into a positive light for mainstream audiences. Shazam not only solidifies DC's current place, but continues the grand streak of flicks that moviegoers are coming to appreciate from the franchise after the disastrous Batman vs Superman and Justice League blunders. Why? Because Shazam is everything those movies are not. Emotionally gripping, downright hilarious with comedy, and in general, pure goodness and fun. While the villain can be considered 'dark' in theme and motivation, he is an excellent contrast for our heroes and provides the perfect punchable antagonist. While Thaddeus Sivana is nowhere close to Darth Vader or Citizen Kane (the arguable titular main antagonist of the film), he still displays concrete enough drives and wills to accomplish his ruthless goals, though overall he's a two-dimensional character.

Shazam is a superhero movie rarity in that the main protagonist is BOLSTERED by side characters instead of needing to rise above them. In fact, the entire story's theme revolves around this concept of friendship and togetherness conquering greed and self-serving sin (the literal secondary antagonists of the film being the Seven Deadly Sins, we'll get into them later).To summarise the plot: Billy Batson, the main protagonist, loses his mother in a crowd as a toddler, and spends his upbringing swinging through foster homes, always abandoning his families and instead seeking his biological parents. After one particular instance where he dupes two police officers and fails once again to find her, the police relegate Billy to an enthusiastic foster family eager to take him in. I don't wish to spoil too much, but essentially, through many trials and tribulations, having conflicts with his family, and being chosen as the superhero Shazam by the wizard... named Shazam, Billy learns to become accepting of his new family and let go of his past, a perfect contrast to Thaddeus Sivana, whose experiences with family have consumed him in a fiery rage.

Billy's adopted siblings actively assist him, albeit in brief instances throughout the film, their teamwork becomes paramount during the finale, when they all receive powers identical to Billy's and use them to fight Thaddeus's allies/manipulators, the Seven Deadly Sins themselves. However, here's where my primary gripe with the film comes in: The Sins could've been so much more. We've already seen a pantheon of uninteresting antagonists throughout the 2000s, from Iron Man One's Ironmonger, to Iron Man Two's Whiplash, to Iron Man Three's Killian (jeez Iron Man's cinematic rogues gallery has never been memorable has it), to probably every evil robot in Transformers of which only hardcore fans know their names (Decepticons, fyi). Even the DCEU has been plagued with horrifically boring villains, ie, Doomsday and Steppenwolf. Lex Luthor, in my humble opinion, was actually very well portrayed for a contemporary audience. Lex has numerous psychotic mental problems due to being a rather young person wreathed in power and money, feeling threatened by Superman. However, Doomsday and Steppenwolf are just... umm... evil, I guess.

I would've hoped that the Seven Deadly Sins would all be depicted as unique individually, each character being modelled specifically after their titular quality (though maybe they refrained due to Lust...) It would've been enjoyable to see each Sin whispering into Thaddeus's mind throughout the film, feeding him lies and emphasising his immoral qualities. Sadly, we never got to view that dynamic, and instead just witnessed several grey monsters with crimson red eyes in deep, menacing voices talk about destroying the world.

The movie's focus on Billy, Freddie, the adopted family, and its core themes is the essentials. I highly recommend this movie as Pre-Endgame material as well, knowing how heart-wrenching and emotionally loopy that torturous three-hour experience will be (metaphorically), Shazam brings believable conflict, engaging characters, and even an intriguing post-credits scene to the table. A solid 8/10.

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