The DC Extended Universe has not gotten off to the best start. With the exception of Wonder Woman, the reviews of the films span from mixed to “hot garbage fire.” The next DC movies are in need for some distinct and new energy, and based on the newly released official synopsis, Shazam might have exactly that.
Set in Philadelphia, the film follows Billy Baston (Asher Angel), a 14-year foster kid who can turn into adult hero Shazam (Zachary Levi) by shouting the word “SHAZAM!” Billy loves using Shazam’s powers to do all the things a kid would do with powers in all of its joyful abandon. When the hero comes up against the evil Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong) he faces his first real test as a hero. Whether he’s ready to grow up a bit or not.
Here’s the full Synopsis:
We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s (Angel) case, by shouting out one word—SHAZAM!—this streetwise 14-year-old foster kid can turn into the adult Super Hero Shazam (Levi), courtesy of an ancient wizard. Still a kid at heart—inside a ripped, godlike body—Shazam revels in this adult version of himself by doing what any teen would do with superpowers: have fun with them! Can he fly? Does he have X-ray vision? Can he shoot lightning out of his hands? Can he skip his social studies test? Shazam sets out to test the limits of his abilities with the joyful recklessness of a child. But he’ll need to master these powers quickly in order to fight the deadly forces of evil controlled by Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Strong).
A change in tone diversifies the offerings of the DC extended universe in a necessary way. The world of DC characters is full of individuals who are vastly different, which should be taken into consideration when adapting them for film. The films to date have mainly been darker, moody films. If Shazam, a property that inherently somewhat goofy and very kid-friendly, got a similar treatment, it would do the universe a disservice. What it needs is a film with energy that is new when put next to the previous films in its shared universe, which makes the “family-centric” and “fun” descriptors attached to this project a good sign.
After previous attempts to introduce several characters at once, it is nice to see Shazam getting his solo adventure first. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, and Justice League all had the additional challenge of introducing several all-new characters, which felt overwhelming and made the films clunky. Marvel’s choice to hold off the costumed debut of hero The Wasp until the Ant-Man sequel is an example of a choice that shows the type of restraint that would have been helpful in these situations.
Aquaman, Justice League 2, Cyborg, and a new Green Lantern film are the other upcoming films in the DC extended universe.
Shazam is set for a 2019 release.