The internet has gone crazy over Shazam!'s debut at San Diego Comic Con claiming it to be the standout of the entire weekend. From the materials available personally I think Aquaman has the edge over it due to its gorgeous underwater visuals - nevertheless, as an avid comic book fan I'm not a Shazam! enthusiast - yet - and know very little about the character. Plonked in the mist of an exceptionally over saturated genre it faces the exact same problem as Aquaman - it's got to have that spark or in this case that Shazam!
Disney Channel's Asher Angel stars as Billy Batson, a young orphan boy who is apprehensive about his new foster family. He meets Freddy Freeman, played by the excitable Jack Dylan Grazer (who made his name as the hypochondriac standout of Steven King's IT last September.) The dynamic between Freddy and Billy doesn't seem as well developed as it could be, Billy's ego contrasts too greatly to his "normal" personality - making the transition between extremes feel a tad jarring.
Freddy's admiration for superheroes oozes off the screen as we're taken through his bedroom with a Batarang on display and newspaper accounts for Superman lining his draws. A scuffle outside the school highlights with a gang of upper grade bullies highlights Freddy's school status as the lowest of the lows, but provides the opportunity for Billy to demonstrate his heroic qualities. Billy finds himself chased aboard a subway train - lights flash, the carriage rattles, the glass freezes over and mystical symbols appear on the display board - director John. F Sandberg crafts a strikingly ominous atmosphere.
After being met by a magical wizard, Billy miraculously is transformed into superhero Shazam! As Kendrick Lamar's HUMBLE tunefully plays out - Billy discovers his abilities with a fair amount of punching, flying and flossing throughout the journey. As an original slant on the super heroic, Shazam! seems heavily inspired by 1988's Big which is both its best and worse quality - Shazam! seems fairly unique and certainly fun but it runs the risk of being more than a little goofy - and not that super. DC may go from one extreme to the next, dark and brooding to Marvel's current silly, funny, gag-tastic style.
Hopefully the excellent music choice is reflective of how the film will be executed as a whole: refreshing, stylish and edgy. Zachary Levi offers a lightening bolt zap full of charisma and hints at a family friendly, DC Deadpool equivalent (imagine!). I think the Christmas setting will add a lot of character to Shazam! as very few superhero flicks take place in the holiday season - it's just a shame the movie releases in April. DC might hit a home run with a smaller scale story but it's got to limit the goofiness to a certain degree.