If there's one thing anyone knows not to do — it's to piss off the Gods. Shazam! Fury of the Gods brings back Billy Batson (Asher Angel) and family of supers back to the big screen in this equally light-hearted sequel that at times, does annoy the audience. This time though, they're going up against not just one, but three villains who are also — get this — Gods.
The daughters of the Greek God Atlas Hespera (Helen Mirren), Kalypso (Lucy Liu) and Anthea (Rachel Ziegler) have crossed over to the human realm to take back what was once stolen from them — the magic staff and the magic it contains, which we last saw in the first film, as well as a seed that will help restore their godly realm into what it once was.
The three sisters carry a big part of the movie, occasionally showing Billy and his Shazamily that they're unworthy of the God powers bestowed by the Wizard (Djimon Hounsou), often reminding them that they're mere mortal children.
They're not exactly the scariest or the fiercest antagonists in the DCEU — in fact, the terrible trio aren't even characters from the comics, but perhaps that's what works for Shazam! Fury of the Gods.
Between the serious, dark and mature tones of the DCEU and the ever so convoluted and expanding multiverse of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Shazam! Fury of the Gods is perhaps the best superhero movie right now for casual viewers.
There's no need to catch up on past movies or TV shows — we argue you can still watch this sequel if you haven't caught the first movie — and it is so lighthearted and campy that you almost forget that we've been experiencing superhero fatigue in the past year and a half.
There is no denying that Shazam! Fury of the Gods is formulaic, highly dependent on Gen-Z humour and has a few cringe moments — we're talking What makes you special is you! type of badly written dialogue, but this is a film about a boy with the powers of an adult, so don't expect too much.
It's not as magical as the original, and doesn't stick to the landing several times, but maybe that's why the DC Universe is getting a reboot, and we're seeing what doesn't work as well.
The costumes come off cosplay-ish, the characters are childish and cartoon-ish and it's a bit of a mess by the time we reach the third arc with its Game of Thrones cum Greek Mythology 101 class battle between the Daughters of Atlas and the Shazamily, but boy is it a fun ride.
The movie doesn't take itself too seriously and it is encouraged that viewers do the same in order to have a good time. If you're a film snob or a comic book purist, we reckon Shazam! Fury of the Gods will not be your cup of tea but truth be told regardless of what superhero movie you pay for, you'll likely still feel some sort of fury.
Campiness aside, Shazam! Fury of the Gods is full of heart. Much like the first movie, the sequel is also focused on the theme of family and the imposter syndrome Billy I-don't-deserve-these-powers Batson faces.
This time, Billy is turning 18 and hence ageing out of the foster care system. Too afraid to face what growing up might mean, he holds on and grapples hard on whatever he currently has.
Perhaps even too hard that members of the Shazamily are starting to feel a little too suffocated, especially with foster brother Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer), whose only desire is to break off from the pack and fly solo.
While Batson and Shazam actor Zachary Levi are the main leads of the movie, the spotlight is shared amongst other actors and characters. We see more pronounced roles and involvement from members of the Shazamily: Pedro (Jovan Armand, D.J. Cotrona), Darla (Faith Herman, Meagan Good), Mary (Grace Caroline Currey), Eugene (Ian Chen, Ross Butler) and Freddy (Grazer, Adam Brody) and actually learn a lot more about each of their personalities, interests and identities.
Grazer's Freddy leaves the most impression out of all the characters with his wise-crack sense of humour and sarcasm. Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman also makes a couple of appearances, and well, we can't deny that whenever the Princess of Themyscira comes on screen, everyone else just fades into the background. That's just the power of Diana Prince.
As enjoyable as Shazam! Fury of the Gods is, DC fans such as ourselves may leave feeling just a tad bit nervous. With all the major shifts and changes in DC such as the canning of Wonder Woman 3, departure of Henry Cavill and no one in sight to fill up the vacated Batman role, Shazam! Fury of the Gods leaves fans with more questions than answers as to where the DCEU is heading next.
Dwayne Johnson's Black Adam was meant to connect with the Shazam! films but since the antihero is no more in James Gunn and Peter Safran's new DCEU, a third Shazam! movie does not seem promising, despite what the film's two post-credits might suggest.
Maybe Shazam! might suffer the same fate as Black Adam? Or maybe they'll be rebooted just like what Gunn did with The Suicide Squad featuring the same actors in the roles once all the previously greenlit movies are out (aka The Flash, Blue Beetle)?
Maybe we'll never know until the moment we find out. But until then, let's take a page from these childish heroes and enjoy what we've got. After the years we've had, we sure as hell deserve it.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods may not be the superhero movie we need, but it's the one we deserve.
After a tiring long year of superhero fatigue, this light-hearted, old-school and campy movie is a breath of fresh air that will hopefully stick through for the rest of the DCEU.
Overall — 7/10
Story — 7/10
Direction — 7/10
Characterisation — 7/10
Geek Satisfaction — 7/10
ALSO READ: Shazam! sequel pits superhero foster kids against formidable foes
This article was first published in Geek Culture.