The Magic Word for the DCEU is Shazam

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Shazam on Blu-ray

The character you are about to see in this movie has a lengthy and rich history, nearly as long as Superman's, and peppered with controversy from the beginning.

And, despite a relatively recent change to the comic book mythos that carried over to this movie, his name is not Shazam. His name is Captain Marvel, and he predates a certain Air Force pilot turned alien warrior turned superhero by leaps and bounds. "Shazam" is what he shouts to change from youthful Billy Batson into his adult hero persona, as he does in this movie. Why would he call himself "Shazam" if every time he introduced himself he ended up changing identies?

SHAZAM opens with the Wizard (DJIMON HOUNSOU) seeking a champion to give his powers. He settles on a young Thaddeus Sivana (ETHAN PUGIOTTO), and puts him through a test to see if he is pure of heart. The boy, belittled by his father (JOHN GLOVER, so you know young Thad is going to grow up to be a Lex Luthor type), is almost deserving, but is tempted by power. Giving in to the temptation, the Wizard rejects him, and Thaddeus Sivana spends the rest of his life proving the experience not only really happened, but finding a way to get back to claim that power -- the power of The Seven Deadly Sins whom the Wizard stands against.

Years later, foster kid Billy Batson (ASHER ANGEL) is introduced to a new group home after having run away from others countless times. He's on his way being on his own again when he sees one of his foster siblings being brutally bullied, and comes to his aid. During his escape, Billy lands on the subway, and is magically brought before the Wizard and given magic -- the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury. That's an acronym, by the way, that spells out SHAZAM. The magic changes young Billy into an adult costumed champion, Captain Marvel (ZACHARY LEVI) -- and yes, I'm still calling him that, the trademark gods be damned!

Around this same time, the now-grown Sivana (MARK STRONG) has found the key to returning to the Rock of Eternity and taking the power of the sins as his own. The sins inhabit him and give him super powers -- nearly identical to those of Captain Marvel. And the sins inform Sivana that the Champion has been chosen. Now Sivana is on the hunt for him, to claim his powers as his own to become even stronger.

The rest of the movie is mostly Billy learning his powers, with assistance from his foster brother, Freddy (JACK DYLAN GRAZER), mostly using them for publicity or to make money -- things kids woud naturally do if they were given these powers. But when Sivana comes calling, Billy has to learn how to hero-up fast -- or tuck tail and run away.

SHAZAM gets a lot of praise for being a departure from the "grim and gritty" DCEU and being its first comedic outing. While that's a necessary departure, it may not have been necessary to depart quite so far. AQUAMAN had many comedic moments, and wasn't the grit-fest that was MAN OF STEEL or BATMAN V SUPERMAN. I have a difficult time reconciling this Captain Marvel into the rest of the DCEU, standing along side Batman or Aquaman or... well, maybe I don't have such a hard time seeing him standing beside Superman, but you'll have to watch the movie for that.

SHAZAM is avaiable now on Blu-ray and Digital.

4.0 / 5.0