It would really be a shame if Shazam fell victim to the DC Universe purge , now that James Gunn and Peter Safran are heading up the project.


Of all the superhero sagas, the late Captain Marvel has found the formula for a good children’s cinema that speaks the same language as its audience, and Shazam! Fury of the Gods is definitive proof of this: while increasing the spectacular load, director David F. Sandberg and screenwriter Henry Gaiden – here joined by Chris Morgan– remain on the course already traced by the first film, increasing their ambitions hand in hand with the growth of the protagonists.

The recent cases of Scream 6 and John Wick 4 have demonstrated with opposite results that franchises focus on gigantism to survive the test of time, but Shazam manages to do it discreetly, without distorting his nature. Nonetheless, the greater extent of the threat is evident right from the opening scene: in fact, Hespera ( Helen Mirren ), Kalypso ( Lucy Liu ) and Anthea ( Rachel Zegler ), the powerful daughters of Atlas , are attacking the Earth , determined to regain possession of the powers the wizard Shazam ( Djimon Hounsou) subtracted from the gods to deliver them to mortals. Said powers are now in the hands of Billy Batson ( Asher Angel / Zachary Levi ) and his family, who work together to protect Philadelphia. However, the situation is not always idyllic: the members of the Shazam Family – especially Freddy Freeman ( Jack Dylan Grazer / Adam Brody ) – want to be more and more on their own, and Billy fears that the group is falling apart.

The hero’s worries are the result of his many traumas. Billy was rejected for most of his life (first by his biological family, then by institutions that didn’t know how to handle him), and his adoptive parents were the first to give him a real home. Here returns a leitmotif that we often hear in contemporary cinema, especially the post-pandemic one: from Tori and Lokita to Marcel the Shell , through The Quiet Girl and others, we have started looking for a relationship with each other again, giving voice to both a physical and an emotional need. And the other is often traceable in the extended family, or in any case unconventional, not necessarily biological; in short, what we meet along the way, whichwe choose . Shazam! Furia degli dei offers us an adventurous reinterpretation of this need, but its importance is in no way diluted. Not surprisingly, the keystone will be a sacrifice of love: putting yourself (or your fears) aside for the good of those you love.

Sandberg once again proves to be a joker with a heart of gold, capable of finding the right balance between humor, action and feeling, but also between nostalgia for old fantasies and the postmodern breath of current blockbusters. Self-awareness is not lacking, of course, but it’s not noisy and exaggerated as elsewhere: playing with superhero mice and pop references means sharing the same imagination of young spectators, who thus feel more easily represented by the protagonists. Gaiden and Morgan , however, have the merit of making the members of the Shazam Family talklike real children or adolescents, not like the miniature adults Hollywood has accustomed us to. In this regard, the new centrality of Freddy Freeman falls in the bean. On the one hand it allows the sequel to exploit the skill and fame of Jack Dylan Grazer (clearly the star of the group), on the other it allows the audience to connect with the most enthusiastic and fragile soul of the family, yet capable of overcoming its apparent limits.

Also because this time the enemy seems almost invincible, and Helen Mirren ‘s class lends itself very well to playing an opponent who is as calm as she is scary, but impeccable even in the comic moments (the letter scene is hilarious). In fact, Shazam! Fury of the Gods is the feel good moviesupreme in the field of superheroes: a blockbuster where we are moved and have a lot of fun, to the point of glossing over some forced or simplistic passage of the screenplay. What matters most are the different expressions of love (parental, filial, fraternal, friendly, romantic) that alternate between the films, and that pump blood in the veins of a spectacular adventure, full of fights, monsters and magic, but above all of humanity. If the new heads of DC Studios allow it, Shazam will be able to continue to be the beating heart of this narrative universe, whatever the future holds for him.