Shazam! Fury of the Gods - A Spoiler Review

The end of days for the DCEU has started, and while we still have a few films due out this year (Blue Beetle, The Flash and Aquaman 2) it does feel like it is finally over. The first Shazam! film was a massive surprise for me as I enjoyed it way more than I expected to. Shazam! Fury of the Gods was a movie that also surprised with how much I enjoyed the film. The trailers for Fury of the Gods did not have me overly excited, but based on how much I liked the first film I knew Fury of the Gods deserved a chance. With all of the negativity surrounding the DCEU ending Fury of the Gods brough some much needed heart and levity to the table. The film is just over 2 hours long (stay until the very end of the credits), and the pacing of the film is very good as the film flies by. The villains of the film are played by Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu, but there was a surprise (at least for me) that Rachel Zegler was playing the sister of Mirren and Liu. I had no clue that there was going to be a third sister as the trailers did a good job of keeping her out of them. The story was simple, but effective in that it did not need a lot of backstory or information to set up. The story could have used a little more information on Greek mythology as I think it would have helped the story out. The exploration of the Greek gods and myths allowed the film to feature an appearance by another member of the DCEU; though the Wonder Woman cameo was spoiled for me. If the Greek Gods are part of the story then Diana's appearance makes total sense. 

The film featured a lot of more of Zachary Levi as Shazam, but at the expense of Asher Angel who plays Billy Batson. The plot of the film involves the sister possessing the magic staff of the wizard, which they use to rob the Shazam family of their powers. I liked the choice as it made the villains seem more deadly, and it allowed the child actors more screen time. Billy's story this time around revolves around him aging out of the foster care system and becoming worried that he will lose the only real family he has ever had. Billy's brother Freddy is more focused on his attraction to Zegler's Anthea, but his sister Mary (played by Grace Caroline Currey) understands what Billy is going through. The family dynamic is what made the first film work, and it also is what makes Fury of the Gods so good too. The heart of the Shazam films is something that has been inconsistent within the DCEU. I think Man of Steel, Wonder Woman, The Suicide Squad, Birds of Prey and probably The Flash all have heart. The MCU has been so successful because it tries to make it's characters likeable, and it tells a story. The one weakness the film had was that I think having an understanding of Greek mythology helps the audience understand the plot a little better. The plot was not overly complicated, but the flow of the film and the lightness of the characters keeps you happy. There are some films where the tone of the film keeps it entertaining enough that the flaws do no stand out


The film opens in current day Greece where we see helmeted soldiers attack a museum to steal the Wizard's (Djimon Hounsou) staff. The helmeted soldiers remove their helmets revealing themselves to be the two of the daughters of Atlas (Greek Titan who is punished to hold up the sky for eternity). The daughters are Hespera (played by Helen Mirren) and Kalypso (played by Lucy Liu) who take the broken staff and using the imprisoned Wizard to put the staff back together. Back in Philadelphia the Shazam family save people trapped on the bridge, but they fail to prevent the bridge from collapsing. The Shazam family is slowly drifting apart as Mary is in college (and working), Freddy is going off on his own to be a hero and Billy is holding on too tight to everyone. Freddy meets a new girl at school named Anthea (played by Rachel Zegler), and he impresses her saying he knows the Shazam family. While dreaming about being on a date with Wonder Woman, Billy gets a warning about Kalypso and Hespera by the Wizard. 

Freddy is hanging out with Anthea, and he transforms into his Shazam alter-ego, but Hespera and Kalypso arrive with the staff and they use it to rob Freddy of his powers. The Shazam family arrives to save Freddy, but they are too late as Hespera puts a bubble around the city trapping the Shazam family in the city. Freddy is taken to the home of the daughters of Atlas The God's Realm and imprisoned with the Wizard. Billy and the Shazam family retreat to The Rock of Eternity (their lair) where they pen a letter to Hespera offering up their powers to get Freddy back. The plan is to capture Hespera, and then use her to trade for Freddy, but Hespera was prepared for this and Kalypso attacks robbing Pedro of his powers. The family captures Hespera, but that was part of her plan. Hespera is locked up, but she easily escapes and she finds what she was after, which is the Golden Apple (the seed of The Tree of Life). Hespera escapes back to The God's Realm, but while she was gone Anthea helps Freddy and the Wizard escape. Freddy manages to steal back the Golden Apple while the sisters argue over how to use it. Freddy and the Wizard make it back to The Rock Eternity when the Shazam family arrives to fight the sisters. 

The family returns to Philadelphia revealing their identities to their foster parents in the process. Kalypso follows them to Philadelphia riding Ladon (the guardian dragon of The Tree of Life). Kalypso and Laden manage to get the Golden Apple back while also removing the powers from the all of the siblings except Billy. Kalypso brings the apple back to Hespera and Anthea, but when Hespera disagrees with her plan Kalypso stabs her and then takes away the powers of Anthea. Kalypso plants the Golden Apple in Philadelphia causing The Tree of Life to grow in Philadelphia sprouting all kinds of monsters which attack the city. Billy visits Hespera asking for her help to stop Kalypso, and the Shazam family help the citizens of the city any way they can. Billy attracts the attention of Kalypso, and when she attacks Hespera shrinks the bubble around the city to just around Billy, Ladon, Kalypso and The Tree of Life. Billy realized that the staff absorbs power so he attempts to overload it by blasting lightning bolts inside the dome causing a thunderstorm. The staff overloads, and Billy calls out Shazam to strike the final bolt causing the staff to explode killing him, Kalypso, Ladon and The Tree of Life. The family buries Billy by the original Tree of Life in The God's Realm when Wonder Woman arrives and uses her godly powers to repair the staff, restore The God's Realm and resurrect Billy as the credits roll. The mid-credits scene involves Emilia Harcourt (played by Jennifer Holland) and John Economos (played by Steve Agee) approaching Shazam and offering him a position in the Justice Society. In the end-credits scene we see Dr. Sivana (played by Mark Strong) still in prison, and again he is visited by Mister Mind who tells Sivana that his plan is almost ready as the film ends.


The box office returns were disappointing, and the critic/audience scores were not great either which I don't understand. I am not saying that this is a perfect awards-worthy film, but I am saying it is a competent and entertaining film which is all we should be expecting from the genre. I had more fun with Fury of the Gods than I have had with any MCU film since Spider-Man: No Way Home, and I do not mean that as a slight at Marvel, it is rather a compliment for Shazam. The MCU has struggled since Endgame, but everything they have released since has been good, just nothing has been as entertaining as I have found Fury of the Gods. The Shazam films (along with the first Aquaman film) are different tones that have a lighter vibe to them. James Gunn's The Suicide Squad is also different, but that film felt intentionally different. I really liked Shazam, and I think Fury of the Gods is a fitting sequel based on the first film. I am not sure if Shazam will continue on in the new era of DC films under James Gunn, but I think Shazam deserves a chance. The box office results might dictate that this is the last solo Shazam film for the foreseeable future, but he can still appear in other DC projects. 

In recent days there has been some controversy surrounding Fury of the Gods as The Rock flexed his Black Adam producing credit to block some planned cameos. There are reports that The Rock vetoed Shazam appearing in Black Adam, and that he also vetoed members of the Justice Society (from Black Adam) in Fury of the Gods. Black Adam was a film that I really enjoyed and it is a shame that these two DC franchises did not connect. Black Adam and Shazam are two characters that have always been linked together in the comics, but The Rock's reluctance to lean into was an error on his part. The picture for the article was taken from the Geoff Johns (writer) and Gary Frank (artist) comic series. That series made good use of both Black Adam and Shazam, and I never understood how DC never tied them together. The answer it appears is The Rock wanted Black Adam to face off against Superman rather than Shazam. Black Adam was hinted at in the first Shazam film, but in Black Adam I do not recall Shazam's name being mentioned once. I think both Black Adam and Shazam! Fury of the Gods were entertaining films, but both were financial disappointments which will likely mean we don't see them again. 

I am going to give Shazam! Fury of the Gods an 8/10 as it was a very entertaining film that had a lot of heart. The director of Shazam! and Fury of the Gods (David F. Sandberg) is known more for his work in the horror genre, but he has shown he can handle anything. All of the actors in the film were great with Zachary Levi, Asher Angel Jack Dylan Grazer and Grace Caroline Currey being the standout performers. I encourage everyone to watch Fury of the Gods as it is a film that at the very least will keep you entertained for its entire runtime. The battle inside of the dome looked really cool because of the lightning, and I enjoyed the use of Wonder Woman in the film. I do think more information could have been shared about the history of the daughters of Atlas, The God's Realm, and the Golden Apple. The introduction of Kalypso and Hespera was kind of weird as we knew nothing about them before we saw them, and it took awhile to learn why they were doing what they were doing. That was my only real criticism of the film, other than that I think Fury of the Gods was a well-made and entertaining film that should have had better critic scores and a better box office. The next DCEU film out is The Flash and I expect it will end up as one of my top films of the year. 

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