A teenage boy is imbued with magical powers that turns him into a superhero in Shazam!. Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is a teenage delinquent, who is sent to a group home run by Victor and Rosa Vazquez (Cooper Andrews and Marta Milans) and is introduced to his new foster siblings Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer), Darla Dudley (Faithe Herman), Mary Bromfield (Grace Fulton), Eugene Choi (Ian Chen), and Pedro Peña (Jovan Armand). One day, Billy finds himself teleported to the layer of an ancient wizard (Djimon Hounsou), who passes on his powers to Billy, allowing him to transform into the superhero Shazam (Zachary Levi). Together with Freddy, Billy explores his new superpowers, however he ends up attracting the attention of Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong), who wants Shazam’s powers for himself.
Shazam! is a film that brings one of the lesser known DC comics heroes to the big screen. The element that differentiates Shazam from other heroes is that he is a teenage boy in an adult body, which paves the way for some fish out of water comedy. In fact, a good portion of the plot involves Freddy filming Shazam experimenting with his various superpowers. However, the film also has the typical superhero origin story, as Shazam has to contend with the evil supervillain Dr. Sivana, who has been given powers by the Seven Deadly Sins, in order to acquire Shazam’s powers for himself.
Probably the most notable fact I had about Shazam! going into the film was that it was about the OTHER superhero that went by the name Captain Marvel, who has come to be known as Shazam in more recent years to avoid confusion with the Marvel Comics character of the same name. Shazam! takes a much different approach that many superhero films, in that the plot is much more comparable to the 1988 Tom Hanks comedy Big, than most typical origin stories. In fact, the more comic approach to Shazam! helps the film stand out among the other DC comics films, which have typically been much more dark and serious.
Even though there is very little in Shazam! that hasn’t been seen somewhere before, it is still a quite entertaining film. This is particularly due to the lead performance by Zachary Levi, who is able to perfectly portray a teenage boy in a man’s body. Also, even though he is playing his umpteenth villainous role, Mark Strong also stands out as Dr. Sivana, should how good he is at playing evil characters.
Altogether, Shazam! is a quite fun twist on the typical superhero origin story.