The Dark Herald Recommends: Shazam Fury of the Gods
So bad you’ll be begging for James Gunn reboot… – The Daily Beast
In a drama this dumb and unaware, the buffed-up makeover seems like an insult to the same “inadequate” outsiders and weedy minorities the film pretends to champion… – Deadline
Too derivative from previous superhero films and too goofy to present believable characters… – Don’t Care
A sequel whose goofiness extends not only to its lame humor but its convoluted and senseless plot… -NY Times
Bombastic and cacophonous, a relentlessly overstimulating carnival that relies heavily on CGI and a crushing and clanging soundtrack to fake its ambitious scale. – Wenlie Ma
It’s not that bad, why the hate guys? – The Dark Herald
The answer to that question is very important.
Critically so, but I’ll have to get back to it in a little bit.
Shazam Fury of the Gods is the sequel to the 2019 movie Shazam. Technically part of the Snyderverse, but not in any serious way.*
The 2019 movie was comparatively well received or at least it was the first DC movie since The Dark Knight Rises that succeeded in what it was trying to be.
The film opens about four years after the last one. The eldest sister Mary is still living in the home even though she has aged out of the foster system, she’s still there because she didn’t get into her college (just roll with it, and pretend that’s a real thing for a Hispanic woman with a clean record and a 3 digit IQ). Billy will age out of the foster system in a month, he feels his family is slipping away from him. Billy is also dealing with Imposter Syndrome, unlike the original Billy Batson, this one wasn’t selected for guarding his perfect heart. No, this was the crappy deconstructed Geoff Johns version of Billy who was all butt hurt and bitter about his life.
Consequently, Billy feels deep down that he doesn’t deserve his powers because the Wizard told him to his face, I’m out of time and out of options I’m just hoping for the best with you. Consequently, Billy is becoming very controlling towards his adopted brothers and sisters at a point in time when they are all spreading their wings in one way or another.
Philadelphia for its part feels its superheroes kind of suck and constantly complain about their heroics.
This is a decent setup for the characters as they are. The bad guys are the three daughters of Atlas. They apparently lost their powers when the Wizards took away Atlas’s power. They conform somewhat to the trope of the Crone, (Hespera (Helen Mirren)), the Mother Or At Least Middle-Aged Gen Xer (Kalypso (Lucy Liu)), and the Maiden (Anthea (Rachel Zegler)).
Anthea transfers into the school the Marvels (I guess I should call them the Shazams) are attending and starts flirting with Freddie because he has a known connection to the Shazams due to the end credit scene in the first movie. She is hoping Freddie can introduce her to one of them not knowing that Freddie is one of them. As movie contrivance would have it, she falls hard for Freddie. It’s kind of far-fetched but they do a decent job of selling the romance.
Turns out the Sisters have the staff from the first movie and use it to steal Freddie’s powers and then take him, prisoner.
Hespera doesn’t really care about stealing their powers or killing them. She doesn’t have anything against it either except that it’s off-mission for her. She wants the MacGuffin apple from the Tree of Life. If she plants that in the Realm of the Gods, Olympus will come back to life.
Kalypso on the other hand is all about chaos and wants to plant the apple on Earth which will unleash untold CGI horrors upon our world.
Either way, the Shazams have it in their Shazam cave. They just don’t know it.
Freddie gets locked up in Olympus with the Wizard (who’s supposed to be dead and kind of is?). The two of them escape shortly after Hespera succeeds in stealing the apple. When they get to the Shazam Cave, the Wizard tells Billy he regrets nothing more in his five-thousand-year-old life than giving him the Shazam.
Billy has been questioning one of his powers which is the Wisdom of Solomon. Billy knows he isn’t wise. He can’t be, he’s just a kid. Put a gigantic pin in that one, we are circling back to that.
Kalypso mortally wounds Hespera swipes the Apple and plants it on Earth.
A CGI battle ensues. Yeah, I’m skipping a lot of plot points here.
Billy reaches the end of his story arc and Wizard finally tells Billy that he actually made the perfect choice in giving him the Shazam and he is indeed worthy of it. So, he’s not an imposter. Billy then proves it by defeating Kalypso and her mountain of evilness, plus her dragon but he dies in doing so.
He’s taken by his family and the Wizard to Mount Olympus and they bury him there. All of the Shazams were stripped of their powers by the staff during the fighting and the staff no longer has any power.
They could have ended the movie there and it would have been kind of a downer for a comedy superhero movie. The Snyderverse is dead and it would have worked with a denouement scene after that about how they are now being heroes in their everyday lives to honor Billy Batson’s memory.
However, Gal Gadot picks that moment to fulfill her final contractually required appearance as Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman touches the staff, which brings it to life (and hold the comments you perverts), the kids “Shazam” and that brings Billy back to life so he can awkwardly hit on Wonder Woman.
The end credit scene: Two of the characters from The Suicide Squad invite Billy to join the Justice Society. Indicating Shazam might be getting transferred to Gunnverse. Or they just want to give the impression that seeing this movie isn’t a waste of time on a discarded cinematic universe. Given the box office, it’s the former.
In a nutshell. It wasn’t great but it’s better than anything Marvel has done in a good long time. I was entertained by it which is more than I can see for the last three Marvel movies I had to suffer through on your behalf. Yes, it certainly had its weaknesses but that is a foundational problem with any superhero comedy. It has to clear a pretty high bar to achieve true excellence other wise they just end up in the “pleasant waste of time category” alongside Mystery Men, which is where Shazam Fury of the Gods ends up.
This film doesn’t deserve anywhere near the hate it’s getting.
I was really confused by the reviews for this halfway-decent superhero movie. As I said, it was better than Doctor Strange 2 and Wakanda Forever, it was sure as fuck better than Antman 3. But savaging it’s taking is a lot worse than the bad reviews you would normally expect for a superhero movie when Disney isn’t putting the thumbscrews to the critics. In fact, the more Woke the reviewer, the stronger the vitriol against this film.
That seemed so odd to me.
The film met all the Woke checkboxes. The cast is just as diverse as in the last movie, in fact, more so since the morbidly obese Pedro is now gay.
Yet this movie had clearly crossed a major Woke line somewhere. I was wondering if I needed to see it again. The fact that I was willing to find time to do so shows that it was fundamentally better than the recent Marvel offerings since I wouldn’t see any of those damn things a second time under any circumstances.
But it had clearly crossed a huge red line with the Wokites somewhere.
I finally understood, when I was reminded about the start of The Three Body Problem. Billy didn’t think he had the wisdom to be a hero. In fact, he sought affirmation from those who were older and wiser than he was.
This is normal storytelling; the transfer of knowledge and wisdom from the older generations to the younger, it is a common and traditional thematic element in pretty much all stories.
That was the problem for the Wokites. There is a thread of Maoism that pervades all the Woke crap: The old should listen to the Wisdom of Youth. All of the ossified beliefs of the past should be swept away by the end products of the systematic indoctrination we laughingly call an education system.
Mindless idealism is much purer than knowledge gained by experience and older generations should bow before it.
“Let the past die. Kill it if you have to.”
All of the diversity, inclusion, and equity are just awesome and everything but if you leave out the biggest of the big messages then you might as well have made a Reagan-era sitcom. This was the big place where Shazam fell down so far as the Wokites were concerned. Billy sought the wisdom of previous generations. Worse he sought their approval for his actions and was so validated by his elders when it was granted that he literally gave up his life defending them and did so knowing he would die.
This was like acid in the eyes of Woke critics. Of course, they gave it terrible reviews and were dancing in the streets when it did badly. Hell, they were still pissed about everyone ignoring them about Hogwarts Legacy.
In conclusion. Shazam Fury of the Gods is nobody’s idea of a great film. However, if you liked the first one and were being put off by the reviews, go ahead and see it. Sure it’s cheesy but it falls into that category I call, “just the right amount of cheese.”
The Dark Herald Recommends with Confidence
*For those of you wondering why Captain Marvel is being called Shazam, it’s a little complex. In 1939, Fawcett publishing decided to horn in on National Comics’ (DC) success and start their own comic book line. Bill Parker wanted to elevate his work to something better than the obvious rip-off of various pulp titles like Gladiator, the Spider, and Doc Savage that Siegel and Schuster used to create Superman.
Parker pitched a team of six superheroes to his boss, each having the power of one of the classic heroes of antiquity. Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles (wouldn’t be my first choice), and Mercury. His boss said, he liked the concept in general but he wanted them all in one package. Thus was born Captain Thunder (hence the lightning bolt), and after a rights issue came up, Captain Marvelous. And after the letterers complained about the length of the name fitting in the dialog bubbles, Captain Marvel.
Captain Marvel did the impossible and outsold Superman, to the tune of 1.4 million copies a month (a number only webtoons can reach today, comic book publishers can but dream). DC comics welcomed the competition in the spirit of…
Nah, I’m kidding, they sued.
The lawsuits were without merit, but DC could afford the legal fees and Fawcett couldn’t. They eventually ceased publication of Captain Marvel. A few years later DC bought up Fawcett’s titles, unfortunately for them, while the copyright was intact, the trademark wasn’t.
Schlock Meister Myron Fass snapped it up and slapped it on an android who had the power to dismember itself. It didn’t run for long, it stopped publication very shortly before Marvel started publishing the Mar-Vell version of Captain Marvel. Indicating they bought the trademark from Fass. Numerous legal battles between Marvel and DC ensued with DC eventually renaming their version Captain Marvel, Shazam.