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Superhero films have been the biggest movie genre of the 21st century, with eight movies in the genre confirmed to be released this year. Marvel Studios leads the way with 21 superhero films in total, and fans are excited every time a new movie is added to the continuously growing Marvel Cinematic Universe. Owning the rights to the Spider-Man characters, Sony Pictures has released memorable films like Spider-Man: Homecomingand Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Versein conjunction with Marvel. Then there is DC Films, which has arguably fallen behind its competition over the past couple of years. However, its most recent release may be its saving grace.

Shazam! was released by DC Films on April 5, 2019, a month after the release of Marvel’s Captain Marvel. The film follows Billy Batson (played by Asher Angel), an orphaned boy who is placed into a group home with five other orphan children. After saving one of his siblings from bullies, Batson is summoned by the wizard Shazam, who has been looking for a new champion for centuries. Receiving the wizard’s power, Billy now has the ability to transform into an adult superhero (played by Zachary Levi) by saying the name “Shazam.”

Shazam!finished its opening weekend by earning $53.5 million dollars, putting it last compared to the rest of the DC Extended Universe. Despite not doing as well as its fellow films, Shazam!is possibly the strongest movie DC has released so far. 

The newest addition to the DC Universe strays from the typical unsaturated visuals viewers and critics have complained about. While Wonder Womanand Aquamanboth take small steps away from the dull tones of past DC films, Shazam! makes leaps and bounds in this regard. The brighter visuals used in this film also reflect the tone of the movie, another contrast to its predecessors. While past movies were criticized for being too dark and gloomy, Shazam!is more light-hearted and full of hope, something superhero movies should represent. The bright red and yellow of Shazam’s costume stands out on the screen, giving moviegoers a welcoming hero to rally behind. The movie even manages to mix humor with its more serious scenes, something that Aquamanfailed to do well. Zachary Levi manages to convince audiences that he is, in fact, a kid trapped in a superhero’s body and brought a glimpse of joy to the DC extended universe (DCEU). Other actors in the film also do well in order to develop convincing characters as the movie goes on, something with which other DC films have struggled.

However, Shazam! continues to falter in some aspects where other DC films have struggled as well, such as writing. While the plot itself was not bad, the ending of the movie seemed to run on for too long. The film shared this issue with Wonder Woman,in which the main conflict of the plot was resolved rather anticlimactically. The CGI in certain scenes also did not mesh, especially with Thaddeus Sivana (played by Mark Strong), the villain of the movie. Despite the movie’s rather lackluster finale, Shazam! shows a definitive improvement over past DC films. 

Shazam!represents what superhero movies should be and is a step in the right direction for DC. It does remain to be seen if DC Films will continue to produce films similar to Shazam!. With upcoming projects like Joker, Birds of Prey,andWonder Woman 1984,producers of the movies would be foolish not to follow in the flashy red and yellow superhero’s footsteps. Moving past the dark times of Batman vs. SupermanShazam!might be the spark the DCEU was waiting for.

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