The original Shazam! from 2019 is probably my favorite movie in the current iteration of DC superheroes, the DCEU. (Admittedly, I’ve only seen, like, half of them.) So I had high hopes for the sequel, Shazam! Fury of the Gods. (Weird punctuation, but whatever.) The early reviews tempered that view, but the audience reaction was still pretty good. My own take is a bit more in between. Fury of the Gods cannot measure up to the heights of the original Shazam! but it is still a pretty solid movie.
My rating: 4 out of 5.
In this movie, it’s been two years since the end of the first Shazam! (The timeline is a bit complicated. Also, I was surprised to realize it’s been four years of real time.) Billy Batson / Shazam / “Captain Every Power Junior” is now a senior in high school and is struggling to keep his superpowered foster family together, feeling like they’re drifting apart and (justifiably) that he’s not competent enough to handle superheroing on his own.
The superheroing gig isn’t going so well, either. The family’s clumsy efforts have undoubtedly saved lives, but have also caused so much collateral damage (or at least failed to prevent it) that the press has dubbed them the “Philadelphia Fiascos.” Plus, several of the kids are losing interest in it.
Things get complicated, however, when the Daughters of Atlas show up. It turns out that the Council of Wizards that gave Billy his powers (and Black Adam, by the way) stole that power from the Greek gods, destroying their realm. And Atlas’s three daughters seek to steal the Shazam Family’s powers and the golden apple from the Eleventh Labor of Heracles to restore it. Except one of them, Kalypso (better known for imprisoning Odysseus on her island for seven years) is more interested in getting revenge on the human world, and things soon get much worse.
As an aside, both the names and the powers of the Daughters of Atlas bear very little similarity with the original Greek myths. For example, Antheia is supposed to be a daughter of Zeus, and she’s supposed to be the goddess of flowers, not the goddess of “rearranging the city Inception-style.” The other two aren’t much better.
That said, I did appreciate how the movie plays with mythology and folklore in more self-aware ways. Like how Freddie says he knows all about magic, but then starts seemingly quoting Dungeons & Dragons, and the Wizard tells him he has no idea what he’s talking about. Or how unicorns are more like classical nightmare-style creatures, which (a) are actually the king of beasts and (b) absolutely hate humans, but can still be tamed with the power of
gratuitous product placement Skittles. (“Taste the rainbow, mother-*@#$%&!”)
So, insane battles and wacky hijinks ensue, as you would expect for DC’s more comedic offerings. However, the ending of the movie was…interesting. They went a lot further down the self-sacrifice road than I expected, but they pulled off a twist that felt too much like a literal deus ex machina. Except, they then hilariously tied it back to what seemed like a throwaway line in the middle of the movie. I guess I’d say I like the idea of what they did, but the execution didn’t quite land right.
I also wasn’t sold on making Dr. Sivana the comic relief.
So, bottom line, this movie still had a lot of great moments and is well worth watching, but it didn’t tie them together as well as the first movie did. (And I was disappointed we didn’t see any Black Adam.)