Superhero movies, despite the overall rise in quality over the years, have lost one important factor: For Spider-Man, Superman, and countless other heroes that have graced our screens over the last two decades, they act like getting their superpowers was the worst possible thing that could ever happen to them.
Sure, you’ve got the occasional bad guy who tries to kill you or go after your family, for for goodness sake, fellas, you can fly! You’re strong! You can throw a truck if you want to? Why aren’t you smiling more!?
Perhaps that’s what makes Shazam! such a wonderful experience. At surface value, it’s a relativity simple superhero movie that doesn’t try to be groundbreaking or revolutionary and doesn’t try to say anything deep or moving. What it does is serve as a superhero origin story with a run of the mill bad guy who wants an ultimate power… by every conceivable measure, this movie should be considered average at best.
But here’s where it’s different: Our hero is having genuine fun discovering his new powers and, by extension and infection, so does the audience. It’s sad in a way that seeing a superhero have a genuinely good time being a superhero has made this movie feel so different and so fresh from anything else we’ve seen in such a long time, but there it is. Sure, we’ve seen heroes like Aquaman and, to a lesser extent, Superman in Justice League have fun with their powers, but Captain Mar– I mean, Shazam (he said reluctantly) finds such a pure joy in it. DC, if your executives are reading this (and, honestly, why shouldn’t they?), this is a way to differentiate your movies from Marvel… let the powers be fun!
Shazam! is a lesson in wish fulfillment. What young boy hasn’t wanted to fly or be super strong? To go along with young Billy as he experiences this is such a simple yet wonderful thing and really endears him… even through his mistakes and his egotistical moments that feel organic and real.
Notice I haven’t even mentioned the story because, honestly, I don’t need to. I’ve been a fan of Captain Marv– I mean, Shazam since I watched the old show on television. I love the big red cheese and I loved all of the Easter eggs strewn all over the movie. I loved how Doctor Sivania is actually made a threat and not an ancient laughable and diminutive mad scientist. I loved this movie from beginning to end… I’m sure that it will probably be eclipsed by the Endgame hype, but I cannot imagine another movie anytime soon that will make me smile as much as this one did.