2019’s Shazam! remains one of the few highlights of the old DC Extended Universe with its perfect blend of action and humor that didn’t take itself as seriously as its predecessors. It felt like a movie ripped straight from the comics. Shazam! Fury of the Gods continues that trend. It’s a light-hearted, family-friendly adventure that delivers satisfying action and solid humor. It doesn’t fly quite as high as the original, but there is still plenty of magic left in the tank. Watch out Vin Diesel, there’s a new family in town.
When Billy broke the wizard’s staff at the end of the last film he inadvertently freed the daughters of Atlas from their prison, allowing them to travel to Earth to go after Billy and his family for their powers. With a re-mended staff, they are able to steal back what was once the powers of Atlas and turn the Earth into a prison of its own. Billy must team up with his entire family if he is to take on the daughters of Atlas and prove that he is worthy of being the wizard’s Champion.
Family is at the core of Shazam! Fury of the Gods. Billy and his adopted brothers and sisters all have powers and while you would think that would make them stronger as a team, they still struggle to work together with their powers. They’re nicknamed the Philly Fiascos following a disastrous bridge collapse where they do manage to save everyone except the bridge itself. Billy, having moved from foster home to foster home for the majority of his childhood tries his best to keep everyone together, but that rigidness only pushes some of them away. Despite having the powers of the gods, Billy is still a teenager with the same fears, doubts, and issues that any kid might have. Zachary Levi once again is great at being a kid at heart and bringing those emotions to the forefront of his performance, giving some vulnerability to his mostly indestructible superhero body. He’s a kid playing superhero who just so happens to actually be one, and Levi does it perfectly.
The daughters of Atlas have family issues of their own as well. Hespera, Kalypso, and Anthea all want the staff in order to return the powers that were stolen from their father and restore their realm to its former glory, but their means of doing so differ. Hespera and Kalypso see the entire human race as thieves and thus should be punished. There’s even a whole plot revolving around a golden apple and Tree of Life to further drive home the Garden of Eden reference. Anthea doesn’t see all humans as evil, however, and while she wants her realm to live again, she isn’t so hellbent on destroying the Earth in the process. It’s natural for family members to but heads, but who wins will be determined by which family will be about to put aside their differences and band together. As Shazam says to Hespera, “it’s all about family.”
Family drama aside, Shazam! Fury of the Gods follows your standard save the world comic book storyline. It does do it well, though. The action is solid and fun, if not a little too CGI heavy. Fury of the Gods is at its best when balancing its humor and drama, something Marvel Studios has been struggling with lately. There are plenty of jokes throughout the film, but they never get in the way of its emotional moments. Characters are allowed to be serious when needed. It’s great that Zachary Levi has the talent to do both, and director David F. Sandberg knowns when it’s the best moment for a punch or a punchline. Shazam has his cake and can eat it too.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods is a reminder that DC superheroes can be fun, and that they don’t need to take themselves so seriously all the time. There is a lot of film here and not everything works perfectly, but I was entertained and left with a smile on my face. Fury of the Gods comes at a strange time for the DC Universe, which is in quite the state of change, but I am hopeful that he can find a place within James Gunn and Peter Safran’s slate moving forward. He’s just the kind of family it needs.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods continues the trend of being ripped straight from the comic books. It’s a light-hearted, family-friendly adventure that delivers satisfying action and solid humor. It doesn’t fly quite as high as the original, but there is still plenty of magic left in the tank.