Lightning Doesn't Strike Twice for Warner's SHAZAM Franchise

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Shazam Fury of the Gods

The release of SHAZAM: FURY OF THE GODS is a sign of good tidings for oncoming showrunner James Gunn -- because there's literally nowhere to go but up after this fiasco.

While the original comic book adventures of Captain Marvel (and Mary Marvel, Captain Marvel Junior, The Lieutenant Marvels, Uncle Marvel, and Hoppy the Marvel Bunny) had more than their fair share of comedy, this movie just makes them into a bad joke. The kids are not viewed as heroes but as incompetents. Zachary Levi's Captain Marvel acts more juvenile than does his young alter ego, Billy Batson (Asher Angel), exacerbating the already tiresome concept of a superhero movie trying to remake Tom Hanks' BIG.

Leaving aside the fact that DCEU fans already know this movie doesn't matter because of the way things will reset under Gunn, the film ignores the promise that was established in the first film's closing credits, in which two classic Captain Marvel villains -- Doctor Sivana and Mister Mind -- were brought together. That is what should have been this movie. Instead, we get a set of villains nobody knows, nobody cares about, all to set up a battle of special effects with monsters lifted from the workbench of Ray Harryhausen.

The heroes are in disarray. Billy is worried about aging out of the foster home since he is approaching 18, and it is impacting his superhero work. (We open with Captain Marvel talking to a pediatrician about this -- foregoing the fact that Billy could just as easily have made this appointment, had it make better sense, and--he's 17 and wouldn't have seen a pediatrician anyway; this was done solely to underscore the "just a kid inside" theme.) The rest of the foster siblings are all focused on their own things, with Mary (Grace Caroline Currey) having mysterious nights out (you'll never find out why), Pedro coming to grips with telling everyone he's gay, and Freddy trying to take the lead and be a hero outside the team ranks.

Other highlights to look forward to are the ever-bubbly, ever-naive Darla riding a unicorn with a rallying cry of "Taste the rainbow, motherf----rs" (it's cut off, but the message is clear enough). Yes, unicorns -- a scene that could have been saved a little bit if Mary had been unable to ride one of them because only virgins can do that -- it would have explained her tiresome nights out.

The film still has an after credits scene, but it too is overwrought with Levi's 5-year-old Captain Marvel antics while also being superfluous given that there won't be any Justice Society for him to be recruited into (as was the intent of the scene).

I fully enjoyed the first SHAZAM film, but this sequel doesn't come close to catching the same lightning as its predecessor.

Watch Shazam: Fury of the Gods on any of the streaming services listed here.

2.5 / 5.0