Lightning doesn’t strike twice for Shazam!

Sat. March 18, 2023 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

Shazam! Fury of the Gods bolted into North American theaters on March 17, 2023, as a sequel to the 2019 film Shazam! It is the 12th installment to the DC Extended Universe and will raise some concerns about what The Flash, as the unlucky 13th endeavor, will bring in June. This DC project faced some stormy weather much like the fishy first Aquaman and Wonder Woman 1984 did.

Fury begins at a frenetic pace with a museum robbery by the daughters of the Titan Atlas. Helen Mirren plays Hespera and Lucy Liu is Kalypso, who has the power to create chaos within individuals by chanting at them. Hespera's superpowers are supposed to be elemental in nature but are displayed as telekinesis, not the four elements.

The duo imprison the last surviving member of the Council of Wizard played by the miscast Djimon Hounsou and the story shifts to Philadelphia. Billy Batson is back, along with his foster family, to save the world and battle mythological creatures.

Zachary Levi and Asher Angel both return as Billy Batson/Shazam for part two. Levi has some genuinely funny moments and Angel is given nothing to do. Angel is overshadowed by the talented Jack Dylan Grazer as a young Freddy Freeman and Adam Brody who plays the adult version. Grace Caroline Currey plays both the older and younger version of Mary Bromfield, who was originally Batson's twin sister in the comics.

The cracks have been showing in the Shazam! film franchise since the jump. The popular hero Captain Marvel was created in 1939 for Fawcett Comics and was incorporated into DC in 1972, where he was marketed as Shazam! to avoid conflicts with Marvel Comics and their character Captain Marvel. This ancient history explains many of the inside jokes and references that modern audiences will miss and not understand.

The writers of Fury of the Gods struggle as much as the actors do with the material. There are too many cooks in this kitchen both onscreen and off. As adults, we have eye candy to see, but it is appropriate for viewers to look at characters who are actually children? This issue is addressed, but not resolved and adds to the pile of problems in Fury of the Gods. The LBGTQ+ community can vote for Pedro though as an openly gay Latin brother because diversity is way overdue in the team helmed by “Captain Whitebread!”   

Looking for a piece of The Rock? The creatives asked Dwayne Johnson for a cameo, but he refused and his issues with James Gunn don't bode well for his future in the DCEU.

We do have a brief appearance by Michael Gray, who portrayed Billy Batson in the '70s television series wearing his iconic red and yellow shirt in an outdoor crash scene.

On the big screen, DC began with a huge misstep by copying the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The company tried to follow in Stan Lee's footsteps by being realistic and more serious while Detective Comics were always lighter in tone and mood. They could have carved out a niche that would have been unique and fun. Shazam! Fury of the Gods shines bright when it attempts this. It could have brought in a younger demographic too but lines like “taste the rainbow, mother-” clearly show that is not a goal. Peter Safran and Gunn may erase much of the

This time out many will be furious with the results and Shazam! will need a recharge before part three.