Across the comic book world, there is an increasing inclination that audiences, even loyal ones are feeling a bit of superhero burnout. It was inevitable, and there are multiple reasons for this. The first thing to happen was the gargantuan success of Avengers: Endgame – one of the biggest movies in history, and the once-in-a-lifetime payoff of a decade-long journey. The second is also gargantuan in reference to the drop-off in quality for the sole purpose of pumping out properties as quickly as possible. Certainly Marvel-wise, one only need to look as far as Thor: Love and Thunder and the more recent failure of Ant-Man: Quantumania for evidence of an almost laughable lack of effort. Then, DC had Black Adam, a film equally as poor which, after over 10 years of development, was quickly laid to rest by Marvel and DC superbrain, James Gunn, who has been nothing short of ruthless since taking over the creative direction at the latter. With the genuine promise of The Flash this month, and the new projects developing under Gunn’s stewardship, things should rightfully be looking up for the DCEU (Reeve’s Batman correctly living stratospheres aside). And yet, his presence is still fresh, so seeing out the already-defined slate is, at best, a necessary evil.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods might be the definition of a sequel no one asked for and that no amount of cheeky cameos can save. While the first film had relative charm and moderate success with audiences, even the most loyal DC fans who will literally turn up for anything have openly admitted that this film is largely needless and flat – as in, what is the point of continuing the story of these characters if they are not going to feature as part of the new direction that DC is being taken? Again, it’s a case of it having been already in post (probably) by the time Gunn took over, and had been committed to a release date. The only option was to let it drop and try to make as much money back to minimize losses before pressing on. To be honest, this is fair enough. It was a ballsy enough move from DC to make the 90-degree turn that they did in the first place for the purposes of the long-term win.
The result though, apart from being a genuinely pointless film that is to have no knock-on or lasting effect on anything, is an undercooked CGI mess. Story? You got it. Billy Batson and his foster pals continue to learn how to strike a balance between their adolescent selves and their adult alter-super-egos while facing the ‘threat’ of some ancient space-gods who ‘want their magic back’. In an effort to garner much needed butt-on-seats, this effort is spear-headed by an oddly-willing Helen Mirren, and the always welcome Lucy Liu as the Daughters of Atlas, whom they are looking to avenge. This, of course, criss-crosses with the adolescent storylines that continue to revolve largely around Billy and his brother Freddy as they navigate bullies and girls while balancing their superego responsibilities.
Quips and some terribly obvious and unconvincing green-screen action ensue. Honestly, there have been more considered plots in episodes of PJ Masks, and those are something like eight minutes long. In contrast, Shazam! Fury of the Gods is 130 minutes reserved only for DC purists who feel compelled to watch everything they release, regardless of quality. Collectively, these gullible few did manage to generate $133m dollars at the global box office against an estimated budget of $125m so…success?
Shazam! Fury of the Gods is available to stream on Max now and also play on the linear channel as of Saturday, May 27.
Thu, Jun 01 @ 12:05 am EDT on HBO 2
Sun, Jun 04 @ 6:15 am EDT on HBO LATINO
Sun, Jun 04 @ 7:15 am EDT on HBO
Thu, Jun 08 @ 8:00 am EDT on HBO 2
Mon, Jun 19 @ 9:15 am EDT on HBO LATINO
Mon, Jun 19 @ 10:15 am EDT on HBO
Tue, Jun 27 @ 6:45 pm EDT on HBO
Tue, Jun 27 @ 6:45 pm EDT on HBO LATINO