All the DC movies from this year exist in a strange place. Since they’re not part of the new universe, they aren’t necessarily considered ongoing canon. That’s because of Warner Bros/Discovery wanting to revamp everything. After Black Adam (my movie review and commentary can be read here) did not invest enough into the legends and lore, I had trepidation regarding Shazam! Fury of the Gods.
I love the idea of incorporating mythology from ancient cultures into any superhero movie treatment. When done right, some heroes are just modern day updates to classical figures. For example, Horus is the spiritual predecessor of Hawkman. For the titular hero in this franchise, he embodies the best traits from six Greek divinities–Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury.
But when a sisterhood from Greek myth decides it’s time to torment Billy Batson (Asher Angel and Zachary Levi), he’s in trouble. They are targeting his surrogate family to reacquire the power bequeathed to them by Shazam (and The Wizard). The death of the gods and to resurrect them is a big theme.
In the meantime, the teen is doing his best to keep everyone together. But a lot of time has passed and everyone is wanting to move on. For example, Freddie (Jack Dylan Grazer) wants to go solo, and I can’t help but be reminded of Donatello in TMNT where he just wants to prove his worth rather than always be recognised as part of a team. Grazer is excellent at showing how he can be leading man material, and I’m glad he gets more screen time.
Meanwhile, Hespera (Helen Mirren) and Kalypso (Lucy Liu) are also out to punish humanity for their past misdeeds. If everyone can be traced to Greek heritage, then their invasion of Pennsylvania makes sense. Otherwise, they’re just there because they know who to target after retrieving the staff (that’s somehow found its way to a museum in Athens) Shazam broke from the first film.
This sequel has quite a few plot holes. While not all of them need answers to, others can address the issues of why even huge pantheons need to stay together too. What’s presented had me wondering why the demigods want to be reunited with their parents, even though in the poems, they are often mistreated too. Not everyone really wants to call Zeus daddy. Even Hercules had issues with him, and that sense hasn’t been translated over to the film.
If this film series manages to continue, I forsee Shazam will have to to deal with mediating which Gods and Monsters can live on Earth. This story arc from the comics didn’t really see love in the animated cinematic universe, and I’m hopeful that’s the future for where the newer DC films will head (Flash and Aquaman notwithstanding).
As a standalone film, my only disappointment is the lack of information concerning the origins of the villains. What gets explained was brief and taken out of context. On paper, they are known as the Hesperides rather than the Daughters of Atlas. They are three nymphs of evening and the light of sunsets. They guard a tree which bears golden apples, as for how one appeared in the den in the Rock of Eternity, I like to know.
Also, I wondered about the reptile that Shazam fights. Who I saw emerge from the vile darkness was named Drakon (Dragon). After seeing how wicked that is, I suspect Typhoeus is the creature that Shazam gets to fight. Not every creature needs to be identified on screen, but when we’re dealing with the classical antiquity as a core concept for what Shazam! Fury of the Gods must present, the tale did not feel all that Greek to me.
3 Stars out of 5