Initial Positive Reactions To ‘Shazam!’ Should Be Taken With A Grain Of Salt

Kevin WinterGetty Images

While Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel is raking in at the box office, the other Captain Marvel from Warner Bros., now known as Shazam!, is starting to get a lot of positive feedback from early reviews. Fans, press, and insiders who have been to an early screening of the new DC Extended Universe movie are praising it on Twitter, calling it an absolute delight and wholesome entertainment for the entire family.

Shazam! has had an uphill battle, given that it’s a property not a lot of casual audiences are aware of. The character possesses the same scale of powers as the iconic Superman, but is not as well known. While DC and Warner Bros. focused much of their time on creating a shared universe with their first iteration of the DCEU, it seems that they have pivoted entirely to creating good content using their solo superhero properties, with less of a concern of a connected universe. The final nail in the coffin to the former approach may have been the dismal box office and critical reception to Justice League.

The first signs of abandoning the idea of a shared universe appeared in the hugely successful Aquaman, which only featured one throwaway line of dialogue referencing the character’s previous appearance in Justice League. Other than that, Aquaman was a largely contained story that was allowed to live in its own world without any attempt to connect to a larger story involving other properties.

This approach seems to be working with their next release in Shazam!, which also doesn’t seem to rely too heavily on its inhabiting the same universe as the previous DCEU films. Glimpses from trailers definitely show that the Shazam! story is very much set in that world, with newspaper clippings of events from the previous films, merchandise featuring Superman and Batman, but not a lot of explicit tie-ins beyond that.

Asher Angel (L) and Jack Dylan Grazer speak onstage at the Warner Bros. 'Shazam!' theatrical panel during Comic-Con International 2018.
Asher Angel (L) and Jack Dylan Grazer speak onstage at the Warner Bros. 'Shazam!' theatrical panel during Comic-Con International 2018.Featured image credit: Kevin WinterGetty Images

Shazam! has constantly been likened to the hit Tom Hanks movie, Big, but a superhero version of it, and audience consensus seems to agree wholeheartedly on social media.

While first screenings are always for members of the press who have a built-in appreciation and affinity for the movie going into it, the second and subsequent round of press screenings should provide a clearer picture about the quality of the movie. A similar approach was employed with Aquaman, where only the press members who were already excited, and had shown a trend of favoring that genre and type of films, were invited first. The invitations become less targeted as the film’s release date neared. Seemingly the same strategy may be employed for Shazam!, seeing how the release of the film is less than one month away.

Shazam! stars Zachary Levi as the superhero iteration of young Billy Batson, played by Asher Angel. The story tells of a young boy (Angel) chosen to wield the magical powers of a Wizard (Djimon Hounsou) by uttering a magic word that will transform him into a fully grown superhero (Levi).

Shazam! releases on April 5.