By Juan Ibarra/campus editor
What do you think about when you think of a superhero movie? Loud, action-packed and bombastic? Maybe a cool, hot guy with a shield who delivers a cool line in the middle of a fist fight? DC Comics’ most recent entry hopes to curve this cliche along with other “cool” tropes with its new film, “Shazam!”
Fourteen-year-old Billy Batson is a foster child who has spent the majority of his life running away, however when he unknowingly gains the powers of a wizard known as Shazam, Batson not only gains super powers, but also the body of a fully grown adult.
Asher Angel plays Batson with a strong sense of sincerity. Along with Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer does a phenomenal job playing Freddy Freeman, Batson’s closest friend and one of the children in his latest foster family.
Zachary Levi echoes Tom Hanks character in “Big” as he portrays the titular superhero with a whimsical, childlike sense of wonder one would expect from a teenager turned adult. From learning what his powers are to overselling the fact that he is an adult, Levi plays a teen stuck in an adult body so convincingly you would believe he is literally an older looking teenager.
The largest and most distinct part of the film is how light the tone is while having the most genuine heart within a superhero film ever. It’s a sense of innocence that grounds the story and allows for this “superhero film” to become something more akin to a fun, family-friendly story everyone can relate to.
The story, taking place within the universe of “Batman v Superman” and “Justice League,” is a far cry from what audiences will be used to. The dark, washed out colors of the previous films are gone, while the level of wholehearted comedy is turned up to 11 without feeling forced.
Mark Strong plays Dr. Sivana, a villain with a clear, although plain, motive and a well-established reason for being the evil man he is. Even if the level of villainy doesn’t reach the heights of a Joker or Thanos, that level of intensity would have toppled the film. The clear-cut antagonist of Dr. Sivana makes for a well-balanced contrast with the bright, fun protagonist of Shazam.
The uncomplicated ground “Shazam!” places itself on is a fresh thing to see in an industry full of giant universes and overarching story-heavy films. In a time period where the “finale” of a 22-film superhero series nears release, there is something refreshing about a movie that is able to deliver a solid story with a great sense of direction that focuses on remaining so inclusive.
The fun, lighthearted tale of Billy Batson/Shazam and his heartwarming tale will send the audience back to a time when movies were simple and self-contained stories with a coherent beginning and end. It’s a beautifully crafted, albeit simplistic, story that will leave both parents and their children happy.
“Shazam!” makes its way to theaters April 5.