It’s hard not to feel bad for the next few DC movies. While The Flash has been described as a universe reboot, setting up the first chapter of James Gunn and Peter Safran’s DC Studios plans, dubbed “Gods and Monsters,” the others feel like unwanted leftovers. That’s particularly true of Shazam! Fury of the Gods, a movie whose predecessor contained only the slightest Snyderverse connections, but doesn’t seem to be setting up anything in DC Studios’ future.
Of course, we could also talk about the movie as, you know… a movie! Not as a part of a larger story or a franchise extender, but as a two-hour or so piece of entertainment that we watch and enjoy on its own merits. That approach served the first Shazam! well, which updated the Golden Age hero Captain Marvel to not only give him a copyright safe (if infinitely less catchy) moniker and tell a surprisingly moving story about an abandoned kid finding a home in a foster family. The couple of winks to Ben Affleck‘s Batman and Henry Cavill‘s Superman have little to do with the pleasures of the movie.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods continues that approach, bringing back director David F. Sandberg and the main cast, including Asher Angel as Billy Batson, Zachary Levi as his superpowered and adult alter-ego, Jack Dylan Grazer as his foster brother Freddy Freeman, and Djimon Hounsou as the all-powerful wizard Shazam. With Mark Strong‘s Doctor Sivana dispatched, Billy and family must now square off against the Daughters of Atlas, led by Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu. Rounding out the new additions is West Side Story standout Rachel Zegler as Anthea, a Daughter of Atlas with unclear allegiances.
Fans of the comics might be confused by that lineup. After all, the post-credit sequence for Shazam! teased the coming of Mister Mind, a telepathic supergenius alien worm. In addition to being one of Shazam’s oldest antagonists, Mister Mind remains a fan favorite, the centerpiece of beloved storylines such as the 52 crossover from 2006-2007. Instead, Fury of the Gods‘s baddies are characters without clear comic book antecedents, characters who gesture toward the DC Universe pantheon without fully adapting War of the Gods or any similar storyline.
Whatever one’s expectations for the sequel’s villains, early reactions to the movie have been fairly positive. Most praise the film for continuing its predecessor’s tone, combining wholesome family adventure with surprisingly dark sequences (not surprising, considering director Sandberg’s horror history). While a few critics do take issue with the movie’s pacing and dense story, nearly everyone praises the cast, especially Zegler, Grazer, and Hounsou. Overall, it’s clear that Shazam! Fury of the Gods might please most audiences, regardless of its place in DC Studios’ future.
Here’s what people have been saying after their Shazam 2 previews…
Shazam! Fury of the Gods is directed by David F. Sandberg from a script by Henry Gayden and Chris Morgan. It stars Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Rachel Zegler, Adam Brody, Ross Butler, Meagan Good, Lucy Liu, Djimon Hounsou, and Helen Mirren, and will be released on March 17.