Shazam! (2019): ‘DC’s Family Film’ – A Film Review



DC have been having a hard time with their DC Cinematic Universe. Justice League, Suicide Squad and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice were big films that, if anything, managed to take big names right into the dirt. That fall from grace must have been hard. DC have largely been struggling with these problems, with only Wonder Woman and Aquaman, debatably, being of any quality. All films used big names to try to develop and expand their Cinematic Universe – and most were rushed! Shazam! on the other hand, is much less known.


Wait, I’m a superhero?

Shazam! isn’t a ‘R-rated’ or 18 certificate film like Deadpool but it does owe a lot to this major piece of comic book cinema. Though films like Zebraman and Kick-Ass have covered similar comedic takes on the genre before it, Deadpool really has had a huge influence on the genre, at a time where it was starting to wear thin and become stale. Shazam! isn’t quite as extreme or as fourth wall breaking, but it does utilise this humour in an almost meta way. This breathes a lot of life into the genre and helps DC’s Shazam! to be a lot more than a lazy attempt at a film, sticking to a gritty formula, with a Marvel-esque touch and a desperation to introduce as many characters as possible. Shazam! does make references to DC characters but they are already established; and the reference are made in the same way as the meta humour. SPOILERS: A character having to find out their super powers gives this almost Deadpool humour in a way that’s similar to how Scream was with horror films. END OF SPOILERS.


A Family

Of course, with comic book superheroes come a lot of CGI and Shazam! is no exception. It works and looks good, whilst it helps the humour and overall tone of the film. Whilst the narrative centres largely on the troubles of a child in almost a Free Willy meets Instant Family kind of manner. Despite some of the jokes and action, the film is a family film, largely stressing the importance of a good family. This tone works for the film and gives the kind of depth that you might get from other family films. The obstacles and fight scenes work to this backdrop and are never too intense. The motivations of the antagonist Dr Zivana, though wonderfully played by Mark Strong, are quite simple but work to this understanding of target audience.



Overall, Shazam! is a surprising turnaround for DC. Leaving the straight and gritty Superhero behind for something a little more light hearted and less dependent on a franchise, has given it a much more refreshing touch. Some of the simplicity and basic elements are easy to gloss over in favour of the characters and humour. There are still references to a wider universe but they are much more contained to easter eggs and bit points rather than a reliance from the plot. Entertaining and refreshing, this might be one of few good DC superhero films rather surprisingly.



Billy Batson (Asher Angel) goes from family to family as he searches for his lost mother, when he stumbles across a wizard who makes him Shazam (Zachary Levi).




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A Note on My Reviews

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis below the review for any who wish to see one.


Films Mentioned

Aquaman (d. James Wan Australia/USA 2018)

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (d. Zack Snyder USA 2016)

Deadpool (d. Tim Miller USA 2016)

Free Willy (d. Simon Wincer USA/France 1993)

Instant Family (d. Sean Anders USA 2018)

Justice League (d. Zack Snyder USA 2017)

Kick-Ass (d. Matthew Vaughn UK/USA 2010)

Scream (d. Wes Craven USA 1996)

Shazam! (d. David F. Sandberg USA 2019)

Suicide Squad (d. David Ayer USA 2016)

Wonder Woman (d. Patty Jenkins USA/China/Hong Kong 2017)

Zebraman (d. Takashi Miike Japan 2004)


Further Reading

Official Site

Interview with the Cast

Interview with Zachary Levi

Interview with Director and Producer

Behind the Scenes

Easter Eggs



If you liked this

Deadpool 2 (2018): ‘Marvels Loving Self Parody Sequel’ – A Film Review

Justice League (2017): ‘DC’s attempt at a Film’ – A Film Review

Aquaman (2018): ‘DC’s Black PanThor’ – A Film Review

Instant Family (2018): ‘Sean Anders’ Comedic Love Letter’ – A Film Review


This was an analytical review of….


Shazam! (d. David F. Sandberg USA 2019)

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