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On this episode of our DCU podcast, we’re flashing back to 2019 for a rewatch (or watch) of Shazam! How does Billy Batson’s family flick hold up, four years later? How did this movie traumatize one of our host’s children? And what does it all mean for Shazam: Fury of the Gods — not to mention both the previous DCEU, and James Gunn’s upcoming DC Studios Universe. We discuss that, break down scenes, and talk a bit about the comic book origins of the movie on this week’s episode.
Alex: Welcome to Sons Of A Gunn. A podcast all about the DC Universe. I’m Alex Gunn.
Justin: I’m Justin Gunn.
Pete: And I’m Pete Gunn.
Alex: Also, last name Gunn. And again, for legal reasons, we can’t mention who our father is, but I think you know who it is.
Justin: You get what we’re doing. We’re triplets from a father that we can’t say the name of wink Gunn.
Alex: But we are actually going back in time here. We are doing a rewatch podcast for Shazam! Hey, original release date, April 5th, 2019, directed by David F. Sandberg, screenplay by Henry Gayden, story by Henry Gayden and Darren Lemke. The reason we’re talking about this is because-
Pete: Before the pandemic.
Alex: … leading into James Gunn’s new DC Studios universe. We still have a couple of movies that are going to be coming out that may or may not tie it in some way. One that is coming out next week is Shazam! Fury of the Gods.
Pete: Oh, okay.
Pete: So you wanted to watch this first and make sure that a lot of this-
Justin: It makes a lot of sense.
Alex: Exactly. Yes. So we are watching this first or rewatching this first. Here’s what I think we should do, just to start it all off, let’s talk about our experiences and thoughts about Shazam. I definitely had some very specific experiences with it that we’ll get to in a second.
Justin: Oh, interesting.
Alex: Yeah. I don’t know. I’ll just tease that right here. But Justin, this was actually your first time watching it going into this, right?
Justin: Yes. This rewatch was a watch for your guy, JT. [inaudible 00:01:44], JT.
Pete: Well, welcome to the world, buddy.
Justin: Welcome to Shazam. And I have thought that when I said the word Shazam, lightning would strike through my ceiling and into me, but it did not. So heartbreaking.
Pete: You do have lights going behind you there. I was looking for them to flicker at least when you said it.
Justin: That’s me too, believe me. I still believe. So I haven’t watched the movie before watching it for this, and I liked some of it more than I thought I would. So it was definitely a positive viewing experience.
Alex: And Pete, I think you’re a pretty big fan of this, right? Am I wrong?
Pete: Well, here’s the thing, the first two times I watched it, I had a great time. This time, not as much, but I still think the ending of it really… I feel like it nails the ending in a way that makes you walking away with a better feeling. Because while it was happening, I was like, “Huh, man, I don’t remember this dragging as much or feeling as weird.” And then by the end, it still gets me a little bit when the mom’s crying, I’m crying, and then I feel like it nails the landing a little bit.
Alex: Just out of curiosity, and by the way, for anybody listening, we’re going to get into the actual plot of the movie in a second, but Pete, did you see it the first two times in theaters and this time watching it at home or-
Pete: Yes. Yeah.
Alex: Okay. So maybe that was the difference there potentially. For me, I saw it in 2019. It was one of the first big superhero movies that I took my kids to see and I-
Pete: Oh yeah, the whole [inaudible 00:03:17]-
Alex: … asked online beforehand who are the people who’s seen it-
Pete: Well, the online is never going to lie to you. People online are always going to be [inaudible 00:03:23] your trust down.
Alex: No, but here’s the thing, is what I asked-
Justin: Yeah. Trust anything they say.
Alex: … people, they’re like, “Oh, wink, wink.” No. I asked my film reviewer friends who had seen in screenings, and I was like-
Pete: Don’t trust them.
Alex: … it is for kids. And across the board when everybody said is they’re like, “Oh, it’s like a great ’80s family movie.” That’s what it’s like.
Pete: Horror movie.
Alex: It’s like a great ’80s family movie. There’s some little scary parts, but nothing more scary than you’d expect from a family movie. I was like, “Okay. So that sounds good.” Took my kids and-
Pete: Starts pretty dark.
Alex: Starts pretty dark with the first scene being a car crash caused by a small child who was rejected by a wizard who watches his father, John Glover, basically almost bleeding to death on the ground after the car crash. So I was like, “Ooh, this is rough.” And I remember very distinctly sitting in the theater looking over my kids being like, “Are they okay?” And they were definitely not-
Justin: Uh-oh. Daddy made some mistakes.
Alex: Yeah. Asking some questions about this. And I was like, okay, dark first scene introducing-
Pete: Questioning your loyalty to your friends.
Alex: … the villain here, it’s fine. Then for anybody who’s seen the movie, a couple of other things happen as we meet the main character, Billy Batson, and then it flashes back to Billy Batson being lost by his mom in a very realistic way in the middle of a carnival. And again that’s very clear-
Pete: Rewatching that the mom was not looking for that child.
Alex: Yeah. Noked out of there, absolutely. But at the same time, again, lots of questions for my very little son at the time being like, “What? What’s happening? Why is this-“
Justin: “Can that happen to me, dad?”
Alex: And I was like not-
Pete: You [inaudible 00:04:51] clearly carnival.
Alex: I was [inaudible 00:04:53] theater at that point to teach him lessons about it.
Justin: Yeah. You walked out of there.
Pete: Yes, this guy, I hope you gave him a compass before you left.
Alex: So that was rough. But that wasn’t the most rough part of the movie. The most rough part of the movie. The part of the movie that I have not been able to forget in the intervening four years since it happened is the boardroom scene.
Pete: The boardroom scene.
Alex: Yes. Where Sivana comes in, throws his brother out the window.
Pete: Throws his brother out like doesn’t-
Pete: His brother goes first out the window.
Alex: Yes. And brings up the seven-
Justin: And they really linger. They really linger on the rest of the board members being like, “Ah.” And they’re so-
Alex: Not funny scared, realistically scared.
Alex: And you get the Seven Deadly Sins, which they’re CGI, but they’re very like the Ghostbuster devil dog type thing. I feel like it’s the same mode. And I understand in retrospect what people were saying because if you watch a movie like Ghostbusters, it’s not necessarily that there’s violence like there’s implied violence, some scary things happen, but it’s mostly off screen. Here, one of the Seven Deadly Sins’ odd screen, straight up bites a guy’s head off. People are screaming and sobbing as it happens. This is the point in the theater when we saw it that my children literally started screaming and sobbing and going, “Take me home. Take me home. I don’t want to be here anymore. I don’t want to be here anymore. Take me home.”
Justin: Oh my God.
Alex: And for four years with some regularity, I don’t know why it keeps coming up, and they keep being like, “Hey, remember when you took us to Shazam, and it was the most [inaudible 00:06:22] of all time?”
Justin: “You ruined our lives.”
Pete: Yeah. “When you ruined our childhood.”
Alex: Yeah. So it is hard to watch this movie without recognizing that it was legitimately a formative traumatic experience for both of my children.
Pete: When you’re watching that scene, did you find yourself looking down? The kids weren’t there just like I don’t know.
Alex: Yes, I viscerally felt it in my body while I was watching this time even though they weren’t there.
Justin: Well, it’s playing in their minds on a regular basis whenever they just about to fall asleep so that they’re always watching Shazam in a way.
Alex: Yeah. Exactly.
Pete: It’s funny because you picture… The way you described that, my brother, we went to a zoo with the family and my brother was like, “Oh, look at this thing. It’s called the Arctic Blast. You get stuck in a wind tornado.” And then it’s, “Oh, look at this cool air that’s blown over.” You’re basically locked in this sealed thing, and the kids were like, “Yay, this is fun.” And then they’re pounding on the doors being like, “[inaudible 00:07:22].” It can go on so horribly wrong because they realize they’re trapped in a wind tunnel, and they can’t get out. Yeah, that’s horrifying.
Justin: This movie is like a child prison, really. Because I thought… I can’t believe you had that experience, Alex, because watching this, I was like, “This movie goes way harder than it needs to on the dark stuff.” Especially when it’s the rest of the humor and stuff is so goofy.
Alex: Light. Yeah.
Justin: Very light. And it’s just a weird mix. And it confuses who the audience is for it. Is the idea that audience is arrested development adolescent 30-year-olds?
Pete: It’s old Zachary Levi. You got to-
Alex: I mean, it’s a DC movie. So sure, there you go. I do think, to your point, a couple of other things that I’ll call out here, and I know we’ve just jumped into plot points, so apologies study buddy. Spoiler warning, I guess. But other things like going to the nudie bar multiple times, my kids had questions about that-
Pete: Double down.
Alex: … Santa cursing and screaming and the whole jokes about Santa not being real. We didn’t necessarily have that problem because since we’re Jewish, but at the same time watching this, it was just like you’re saying, Justin, is this collaboration of, “Is this for teens? Is this for families? Is this for adults who don’t want the rest of the DCEU?” Not 100% sure here. And it’s unfortunate because it detracts from the stuff that does actually work pretty well. And one of the things that I’d say works pretty well is it’s pretty true to the comics written by Geoff Johns. I don’t remember where they netted out on this. I know he was involved in some way at this point with this movie with the DCEU. But watching this movie, my big takeaway this time is it reminded me a lot of Stargirl, DC Stargirl on TV, just in terms of that sense of whimsy, but also sense of darkness that they had in the first season. Curious if you guys got the same reaction.
Justin: Agree. I very much agree.
Pete: Well, you gave me flashbacks to that haunted little kid that one season, that was the scariest fucking thing. And he was like that ghost monster.
Justin: Season two. [inaudible 00:09:34].
Pete: [inaudible 00:09:34] disappear and reappear and stuff.
Alex: Oh, and sorry, before we get too deep into it, I did keep promising to mention the plot of the movie [inaudible 00:09:42] watch in a while.
Pete: No, let’s do that.
Justin: Right. Good, good, good.
Alex: So in brief, there’s this kid named Billy Batson. He’s an orphan. He’s looking for his mom. He is taken in at a group foster home by two very kindly people with very kind kids.
Pete: Unbelievable family.
Alex: He wants to immediately leave, doesn’t want to be there, but at the same time, there’s clearly some goodness at him. And after he saves one of his foster brothers, he ends up getting taken in by the Wizard Shazam, who’s been attacked by this guy Sivana, who was rejected, as we mentioned earlier, by him for the power and has been searching for this power this whole life. Sivana has released these Seven Deadly Sins onto the earth and is going to wreak havoc.
So Shazam needs his new champion. He becomes Shazam, which basically grows him into what is supposed to be the idealized adult version of him but is actually Zachary Levi at a muscle suit. And then he tries to figure out his powers, which are shooting lightning from his hands, lightning from his hands and doing other Philadelphia stuff. He uses it mostly to make money at first and then ultimately realize he has to help out his family. And by the end of the movie, everybody in the family has Shazam powers. Sivana is beaten, and we get a tease at the very end there that Sivana might team up with Mister Mind, a deadly evil, super intelligent worm.
So that’s the rough plot of it. The comic book stuff really… I dug it more this time being not sitting next to my kids because the Mister Mind stuff, very goofy for the comics, but they nail it. The Sivana stuff, I think we could talk about it in a second, but particularly the stuff with the kids feels like it’s pulled straight out of… It was Gary Frank and Geoff Johns doing the comic, I believe, and it feels like it’s that on screen and that works for me.
Justin: Yeah. I thought this movie has the comic book stuff, I think, they get really right. The look of the movie is really well done. There are certain moments I’m like, “This is an Alex Ross cover to a Shazam book.” When he’s in meeting with Sivana and fighting Savanna in the Rock of Eternity, there’s a point where Shazam’s crouching down, and I was like, “This is straight off the page.” And I love that. And for a superhero movie, it looks great. It’s like well shot, the CGI is pretty good throughout. There’s a lot of dust. Really, it leans into dust being evil here. So maybe kids can clean.
Pete: Well, dust is evil. I mean, come on, man.
Justin: Yeah. It’s where the Seven Deadly Sins really live. If you look at too dusty, you got some wrath and envy.
Alex: Well, that is what they are.
Justin: Just popping out of your corners.
Alex: There is Wrath, Envy, Dusty, Sneezy, and Doc, right? That’s at least fun.
Pete: Yeah. A couple short, but yeah, yeah.
Alex: I can’t count.
Justin: But those are them. Yeah.
Alex: I will say on the seven-
Justin: My biggest sin is Doc.
Alex: My biggest sin is not being able to count properly. Just to throw about the Seven Deadly Sins. They seem very generic to me and that bummed me out a little bit, particularly on this viewing where they get some mileage out of the fact that Envy has been hiding in Sivana the entire time. And ultimately, Shazam brings Envy out by making him envious, which makes a lot of sense. But the rest of them, other than Gluttony having a big mouth in his stomach-
Pete: I mean, that was pretty cool though. That was pretty-
Alex: That was cool.
Pete: You just know who Gluttony was.
Alex: Exactly. You could tell who Gluttony is. You could tell who Envy is. But the rest of them, they’re just monsters and it doesn’t feel like they do enough with them, I think.
Justin: I agree. It felt like this was a CG limitation. They couldn’t differentiate them too much because it would’ve been a ton of extra work. So I see from a production reason why they did it the way that they did it, but it would’ve been cool to have a more differentiation in just the color of them.
Pete: Yeah. But it’s also one of the things where they do test screenings. Nobody’s going to be like, “I would really more lust in this. There wasn’t enough gluttony. I would’ve like…”
Alex: Yeah. Come on, let’s be fair. There’s one pervert to the back who’s asking for that.
Pete: Okay. [inaudible 00:13:46]-
Justin: Yeah. And his name is Alex Gunn.
Alex: I was sneaking to every test screening like, “This needs a little more lust.” And they’re like, “Sir, this is Toy Story 4.”
Pete: Yeah. And stop twirling your mustache like that. We have warned you numerous times.
Pete: Yeah. I want to talk about Darla and how cute and amazing she is. Every time I see this movie, it’s the one thing that is just absolutely fantastic. I mean, the fact that Billy Batson would get a hug from her and not immediately fall in love with his family is a little off-putting to me because I-
Justin: Yeah, he’s hardened.
Pete: Yeah. That melted my heart. I don’t know how it could not gotten to him.
Justin: That’s crazy because I got you a Darla hug for your birthday this year.
Pete: Oh my gosh.
Justin: You’re going to really… It’s going to hopefully soften you up a little bit and you can join our family.
Alex: So she’s played by Faithe Herman, and I agree, she’s pulled straight out of the comic book. She’s great. And in fact, all the kids are great. They don’t really necessarily get all equal time. We don’t find a lot about Pedro, for example, necessarily, but they do feel like the bones of this family unit is there. Mary gets a little bit more time and she’s very good. But again, she’s very side to the narrative. And this gets not to air too negative because again, I think other than traumatizing my children, which I have a little bone to pick there.
Justin: And you’re great at that.
Pete: Mm-hmm. Yeah. You’re killing it.
Alex: I’m pretty even about this movie. I think there’s a lot of elements going on and none of them really get the proper amount of time to fully develop. The family is one of those where it feels like emotionally, it’s skirts the top of Billy being like, “Oh, I don’t have a family.” Well, here’s a family. “I love this family more than anything.” And that’s where we get and we’re missing some in between points there, and that ties into what I was saying just before in terms of all of the kids where they have the idea of arcs. But other than, I think, Freddy is probably the best one because he gets the most scream time. We get a really good sense-
Pete: He gets fingered.
Alex: Ooh. I know what you’re talking about, but [inaudible 00:16:00].
Justin: Nobody else does.
Alex: Yep. Tom Green movie. Just to clarify, that’s what Pete referenced to.
Justin: Freddy Got Fingered.
Alex: Yep. The other thing.
Pete: The Freddy never the other thing, by the way.
Alex: Yes. Thanks, Pete. Thanks for clarifying and taking a hard stance there. Freddy has been most of the-
Justin: Now there’s the pervert in the back.
Alex: Pete’s right next to me every time.
Alex: I say, “[inaudible 00:16:21], please.” And he’s like, “Yeah, me too.” Anyway, Freddy has a good emotional arc, the rest of them though. That was my point.
Justin: Well, and I will say we’re familiar with the Shazamly through the comics. So we saw-
Alex: [inaudible 00:16:35].
Justin: Yep. Saw this coming a little bit. But I think it’s such a nice reveal if you weren’t aware that they all become Shazams, then that that’s such a fun moment in the movie when he gives that… He solves the Wizard’s mystery and gives them all the powers of Shazam. It’s such a great… Even though I knew I was still really charmed by that, but I agree with you about their arcs. We don’t get enough time to really meet all of them and when they become so important, I was like, “Oh yeah, they’re big now. I wish I knew what their personalities were when they were little so that I could like them when they’re big.”
Alex: So I could match this.
Pete: But the Darla part with Santa is hysterical-
Justin: And Darla really comes through.
Pete: … where she stays in a… Yeah. And she’s like, “Oh my God.” She’s starstruck by Santa. That’s a two second amazing moment, but it’s still-
Alex: Yeah. And that’s a tribute to the adult cast that they cast to these people, and I think that’s Meagan Good, who is very funny and-
Pete: Oh my God. She’s great.
Alex: … even like this cat role. And Ross Butler, who shows up as the adult Ethan. Is that the name of the character? Eugene?
Alex: Ross Butler as Eugene. There’s just like this quick shot after he gets the muscles where he is looking at himself, he’s like, “Hahaha.” That was very funny. It made me laugh. And maybe we’ll get more of them in the sequel, but I think they did a good job there. The absolute best one though, the perfect casting the movie is definitely not Zachary Levi, it’s Adam Brody as the adult Freddy, which is perfection.
Pete: Oh yeah.
Alex: Absolute perfection. The matchup of those actors is great. Adam Brody is great and hilarious. And you could really see the connection between the younger actor and the older actor there.
Pete: I got to feel like it’s Darla and then Freddy, but I’m with you on that. It’s pretty good.
Justin: Number one Darla fan. Well, and I think it speaks to the emotional imbalance in the movie, we’re talking about a little bit where so much of it goes hard and the moment where Billy goes and sees his mom and we have to deal with this excruciating story of how she abandoned him on purpose and this, and he immediately clicks over is like, “I love this other family now so much.” And it just feels like that’s such a heartbreaking like icky feeling that you have while you’re watching that. And then to go into this other side where it’s such a bright moment for this family getting superpowers, I was like, “Let’s just see, set that up a little bit more rather than make us suffer alongside.” We already know that Billy had a rough go of it. We don’t need to suffer so much alongside him, I feel like.
Pete: Yeah. And what’s crazy is they don’t even let up on that. The fact that he hands her the compass, and she goes, “What’s that?” is so much worse.
Justin: I know. It’s unrelated.
Pete: She could have been like, “Oh.” You know what I mean? The fact that it meant nothing to her was so much worse, and that’s why he’s walking away down the hall crying. I was just like, “You guys could have let us off the hook a little bit there.” It was so bad.
Alex: I think you could see a little bit of the screenwriting logic there in terms of why doesn’t he want to stay in this great house? And the reason he doesn’t want to stay in this great house is he wants to go after his mother. That is his main goal.
Justin: Yeah. That has been his thing.
Alex: That’s the thing that he wants. And the only reason he would not go with his mother and instead go back to this house is if she was the worst person possible. So that’s what they set up there. But to your point, I think we’re using the phrase emotional to balance a lot, but it does lead to this thing that is just hard to watch and it’s hard to moderate. What’s the name of the guy, Asher Angel, who plays the young Billy Batson?
Alex: Nothing against him, but that is a-
Pete: He’s great.
Alex: He’s very good.
Justin: He is good.
Alex: Particularly with the comedy. I think it’s a hard emotional pivot going from, “I am emotionally destroyed by my mom” to Gee Whiz I Love You guys, and it doesn’t work. One thing I do want to ask about that we haven’t actually got into yet is the other side of Asher Angel, which is Zachary Levi. He is absolutely one of my favorite anti-vaxxers, sorry, actors.
Justin: [inaudible 00:20:37].
Alex: I always mix up those words. What do you guys think about him?
Pete: Oh my God. Well, before you did that bit, I mean-
Justin: Well, just a little background on that, right when the press tour started for the new Shazam movie coming out, he put a anti-vax tweet up and it was like, yo, dude, there’s so many times you could have put this up and put your beliefs out there when people would’ve been like, “That’s weird,” but it would’ve gone by the wayside. He finally has this movie to promote, and he drops that he’d think the people who work at Warner Brothers must have been so pissed about that.
Alex: They ran over to his house, immediately threw his phone into the ocean.
Pete: It sucks because before… I’m a sucker for a romcom. So Chuck, I thought he was fun and Chuck, and it just sucks that there’s this other thing that’s keeping me from enjoying his performance here. But I think that as the wide eye, innocent new guy with powers, I think he does a great job of that. You know what I mean? It’s just too bad of all the other bullshit is ruining it.
Justin: Well, and I think we’re orbiting the idea here that this movie, maybe across the board has an immaturity about it. I think for the script, it feels like it’s written by kids where it’s like, “Yeah, that’s emotion there sad.” Or like, “Why don’t we have it blow up?” And it’s like, “Okay. Well, we don’t need it there.” And we’re not dealing with the actual stakes and ramifications of these moments. And Zachary Levi feels like immature in that way where you’re like, “Oh, I see why you think this is funny, but it makes me you less when you do that.” And that’s a little bit of… There’s something about him that is annoying.
Alex: So yeah, a couple of things about that, I mean, first of all, to be straight up, I have always found Zachary Levi like nails on a chalkboard for whatever reason. There’s something about his delivery and like you’re saying, Justin, he just feels like he’s trying so hard to be like, “I’m the funny guy in the room,” and I find it uncomfortable and annoying. So I was already against him going into this. So having almost nothing to do with his beliefs, I already didn’t necessarily love it.
But I do want to say something that I think ties into what we’re saying and to actually back up something that’s Zachary Levi said on this recent tour. He was talking about how he feels like Shazam is the Deadpool of the DC universe, which everybody lumped on him for. I think based on what we’re talking about, he’s right in a certain sense. It’s not Deadpool because he is not Ryan Reynolds. Zachary Levi, I don’t want to put words into his brain or anything, but Zachary Levi wishes he was Ryan Reynolds and… Well, he does. Ryan Reynolds, as annoying as he can be, has a perfect delivery odd jokes. He knows how to sell a joke just naturally, and Zachary Levi doesn’t have that. So it’s like, I don’t know, 50 to 60% of Deadpool.
Pete: Well, I mean, you’re comparing a different styles a little bit. I mean, I want to talk a little bit about some of the things that felt were funny like the line where he goes like-
Justin: Wait, wait. Before we move on to that, can I talk about the Deadpool thing for a sec?
Justin: If you are you going to talk about that just so we don’t lose it. Because I agree that it’s a similar thing, it’s just coming from the opposite side. Ryan Reynolds is winking knowing like, “I’m inside this superhero thing, and I’m letting you see it too. Haha.” Well, it’s the opposite with Shazam. He’s like, “I don’t know what I’m doing, but isn’t this weird?” So it’s still pointing at stuff and calling out superhero and action movie tropes, but Ryan Reynolds, it’s a little more winky and cool, and you’re keeping up with him. And with Shazam, it’s like you’re a little bit past him. You know what I mean? From a comedic point of view, you’re a little bit ahead of the joke, but he’s still making it from that point of view. That’s all I wanted to say because I agree they’re similar, but just that one little difference makes it taste different, I think, when we watch it.
Pete: Yeah. I do think it is a different style for sure. I also like when they’re just sitting on the rocky steps and he goes, “Sick view, I can see why Rocky works so hard to get up here” is just a throwaway line, but it’s funny. I thought that that was a good line. And also when he’s running in the toy store and he throws the Batman figure at him and it’s like, “I’m Batman.” I mean, that’s pretty funny.
Justin: Funny though, when he runs across the big piano, I was like, ooh, that’s a smart reference that they didn’t overplay. They just did it rather than being like, “Look, it’s the piano for me.”
Pete: Yeah. Then he’s doing chopsticks.
Alex: One that is another character that we should probably talk about is Mark Strong as Sivana. This is the second time that he’s played a villain in a DC movie. He previously was Sinestro in the Green Lantern movie with none other than Ryan Reynolds who we’re just talking about.
This is another example, and I know we’re lumping on this movie a lot, or at least I’m lumping on this movie a lot, but he does a great job. I think this is another half-baked emotional arc that really struck me this second time through watching it, rewatching it, where there is a very strong connection between Sivana who wants power at the expense of his albeit terrible family versus Billy who wants to leave this great family so that he could be with his mom, et cetera. So there’s this vague theme of families running through the whole thing, but the fact that it ends up with the, I don’t know, moral or whatever it is being like Shazam beats it by tearing out his eyeball and just catching it before it falls off of building versus anything to do with the lessons that they learned over the course of the movie about family or appealing to his emotional side or his family side or something like that.
That core is missing there. It feels like there was a connection that they started with at the beginning, and they’re like, yeah, they both have deals with their families, right? And then it just stops there.
Pete: So what you’re saying is family matters is what you’re saying?
Alex: Yes. Did you do that? Did you do that?
Justin: Huge. He’ll squeeze in family matters anytime he get-
Alex: Yeah. I’ll tell you what definitely, definitely matters to our dad who we can’t tell who he is, but yeah.
Justin: We can’t. Exactly. That’s why we have such a good relationship with him that we’re secretly doing this podcast about him. I agree with you, Alex, because especially they did worked hard to put these themes right there on the table, and then they ended up defeating him with the getting into the mechanics of how they beat him by pulling his eye out and all that. What I feel like, they did all the work to be like, “Look, I’m losing to you.” And Shazam’s losing to Sivana until he activates his family. And then his family helps him defeat Sivana because his fake family of demons isn’t real and they defeat them easily. So it’s right there. I’m just so surprised they didn’t give it that little bit of push to say it or whatever.
Alex: Or have a moment at the end where Billy tries to appeal to him versus just ripping his eyeball out and throwing him off of a building. Some sense of, “We’re going to have the physical fisticuffs, but hey, come with us, be…” Instead of taking this power that is fake, because Billy does say that to him at some point. He’s like, “You know this power is fake. This isn’t real. They’re trying to use you, please.” But it does appeal to him earlier on in the movie. But in that final fight, I feel like there’s an opportunity there for him to try again and be like, “There’s a better way.”
Justin: Or even if it’s like his family, the Shazamly doesn’t leave him, family doesn’t leave you. If the demons abandoned Sivana leaving him alone, and he’s like… That hammers the lesson home.
Alex: Yeah. You could have a moment to be able see what you-
Justin: They move on to find another champion or something right in the last moment, right before Shazams about to punch him, the eyeball leaves him. And it’s like, “Look, see, you didn’t learn the lesson.” And then I feel like it would’ve been combining the action with the themes, not to rewrite it here in the moment, but yeah, it was very close.
Pete: I agree with you, but the fact that we got this suitcase wedgie callback because that didn’t happen, I kind of more for that though.
Justin: I love that you did bring that up because some characters we really have to talk about are the bullies because they’re emblematic of, I’m like, “Does the people who made this movie know people in the world?” There are so many characters in this movie, I’m like, “What?” The foster home woman who’s like, “Hey, I have to tell you this, but your mom doesn’t love you.” I was like, “Yo.”
Alex: Yeah, that was a harsh talk.
Justin: Cool it, lady. It’s not your job to say that. And then the bullies-
Alex: Well, and also at least, just real note, quick note about the foster home lady. She apparently is a character from one of David F. Sandberg’s other films, which is weird that he-
Justin: Oh, that is weird.
Alex: … just brought that into the DCU. But anyway, go ahead, Justin.
Justin: And have her say a line where there is not at all connected to reality. But the bullies in this movie are so intense about bullying. They bully above all, and they’re always together. When they’re riding the Ferris wheel together, I’m like, “You bullies ride the Ferris wheel together?” I think you love each other [inaudible 00:30:04] day.
Pete: Bullies ride the Ferris wheel together. I mean, it’s beautiful.
Justin: The fact that the bullies have nunchucks, I was like, “You bullies drive this badass truck that you refuse to park without jumping over the curb.” Okay, rebellious. And then they had nunchucks that comes out of his backpack. I was like, “What is this?”
Alex: Justin, I understand what you’re saying, but I do think for a commentary point, we need to go to peel the page, a person who owns nunchucks. Take it away, Pete.
Pete: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, personally, I felt very seen when the guy just casually had nunchucks on him. I was like, “You goddamn right.” I mean, who’s walking around without chucks is what I want to know.
Justin: Well, that brings up a question through what’s a nunchuck worthy event? What places are you going where you got the nunchucks in the back pocket?
Pete: Well, I mean, if you’re looking for trouble, you’re going to have a mania and then have them visible. You know what I mean? So if you’re a bully, I think the back pocket is a very logical choice.
Justin: I feel like I’ve never seen nunchucks used effectively. They’re mostly hit into your own face as a nunchuck-
Pete: Well, it’s an art form to learn it. So you got to be very careful with it. You got to know what you’re doing. You got to have some training with it to know how to handle it. So you don’t… It’s very easy to hit yourself in the face or worse.
Justin: Have you ever thought about having just a stick without a string connecting the two so you could have control of what’s happening with it?
Pete: Sure. Sure. But then it’s a different weapon altogether.
Justin: There’s a reason Gandalf didn’t have a nunchuck staff when he was trying to stop the Balrog. You know what I’m talking about?
Alex: I mean, maybe he would’ve survived if he had a nunchuck, I’m just saying.
Pete: Yeah. Exactly.
Justin: [inaudible 00:31:36] nunchuck-
Alex: Should have turned these nunchunks into some chucks. You know what I’m talking about?
Pete: Oh, boy.
Alex: Anyway, I did want to talk a little bit about setting up for sequels here. This gets back into the Sivana discussion a little bit because I do have a sense of the way that they edit his arc was to set him up for that post credit scene where he is in an insane jail asylum or jail or whatever to an unclear-
Justin: An insane jail asylum.
Pete: Yeah. It’s like a super villain jail it seems like.
Alex: Yeah. Well, he’s to [inaudible 00:32:04] feeling, Pete.
Justin: Honestly, it looks like-
Alex: We had a bunch of this, right?
Pete: Oh, yeah. Yeah.
Justin: You were in one. I bet you were in one for a while. After that nunchuck incident where you hit yourself in the face with it and they were like, “Take him to the insane jail.”
Alex: Yeah. He’s there with Mister Mind. And this doesn’t show up in the movie. I actually had imagined it showed up in the movie, but it’s a deleted scene. They did a deleted scene where they’re sitting on those thrones and they’re like, “Hey, there’s six of us, who sits in the seventh seat?” And there’s a slow pattern of the seventh seat. And then Darla says, “Well, whoever it is, we’ll love them completely.” And of course, that’s supposed to be a tease for Black Adam showing up in the sequel. That also ties into the fact that Black Adam was originally supposed to be the villain here until Dwayne The Rock Johnson was like, “Nope. I get my own movie. I’m going to do my own movie. I’m not going to be in this first movie just as the villain, and we’re going to introduce Black Adam.”
Pete: Well, we don’t know if they pitched him on it and he was like, “No, this movie sucks.”
Alex: No, we actually know that they did.
Justin: No, we do know that.
Alex: We do know that.
Alex: He was supposed to be in it. He is a producer on the movie. But he made the decision and said, “No. I want to do a separate Black Adam movie. We got to introduce Black Adam first, and then potentially he could work into the sequel in some way.” But he is too big of a character to just be the villain in the first Shazam movie. So this is all a big way of saying, I do think some of the slight hobbling of the Sivana storyline might have to do with the fact that they had to work around the logical villain of the movie being Black Adam and instead we’re setting up a bunch of other things that may or may not happen.
Justin: Yeah. Agreed. And it’s interesting like, is Black Adam going to show up in this sequel? Is it a post credit? You don’t think so?
Alex: Maybe post credits except for the fact that this movie tanked, and they don’t want anything to do with him.
Justin: That’s what I think. But I feel like that movie tanked… They really believed in that movie and that movie tanking may have happened long enough after they were like Black Adams in this movie that they didn’t go back and take him out.
Alex: If it’s a post credit scene, it’s easy enough to pull that out. I’d also throw out there, not to get too much into backstage drama, but because Dwayne Johnson apparently made this power move of being like, “We’re bringing Henry Cavill back. We’re going over everybody’s heads. He is Superman again,” which of note, they couldn’t even get Henry Cavill for the first Shazam movie because we see-
Justin: They got his torso.
Alex: Yeah. His torso.
Pete: Yeah. Torso was great.
Alex: Well, it’s actually that Zachary Levi’s stunt double in the Superman costume who shows up there. And it was a friend.
Pete: It’s a fun moment, especially the fact that you can… Like milk is very prevalent, was funny, I thought that was pretty well done.
Alex: Yeah. I was totally focusing on the milk as well. Same thing.
Justin: But that was a funny choice.
Pete: Superman with milk, come on.
Justin: Milk was very prevalent. I heard at the focus screening, you shouted, “The milk is very prevalent” right at the-
Justin: They moved it up. They highlighted the milk. They put an extra light on the milk.
Alex: Yeah. And then I [inaudible 00:34:57] up. “[inaudible 00:34:57], please. Yeah.”
Justin: You guys are the Statler and Waldorf of these screenings in [inaudible 00:35:03]. You got to make a change.
Pete: Oh my God.
Alex: Just to finish this up though, there was all this drama about bringing back Henry Cavill. Dwayne Johnson basically forced him into the Black Adam, not forced him, but over Warner Brothers head or forced the issue.
Pete: Forced the issue. Yeah.
Alex: And it was seemingly this power play to be the future of DC movies is Black Adam. That’s where it all kicks off. And meanwhile, in the background, David Zaslav, who runs Warner Brothers Discovery was like, “No, I’m working with James Gunn over here. We’re doing this own thing.” And now Henry Cavill is out, Black Adam is not getting a sequel, all of this stuff. So could he show up? Maybe, but I feel like they’re done with him at this point.
Justin: Well, it makes sense, once you go over the heads of the heads and try to do something and then they’re like, “Well, we didn’t like that.” So that’s not happening anymore. Makes a lot of sense.
Alex: Yes. But what do you think though, I mean, to get into future speculation here, we have Shazam! Fury of the Gods as of this taping coming out in a week, I guess? Something like that.
Pete: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Alex: Yeah. So what do you think? What are you looking for? Oh yeah. You have more stuff about this movie though, Pete. Take it.
Pete: Yeah. I just want to say a couple more positive things-
Alex: Observations, things that you see milk in the movie. Take it away.
Pete: Yeah, yeah.
Justin: Where else is milk prevalent? Where was the prevalence of milk?
Pete: Yeah. I wanted to say the ending with the credit animation and the music. I thought that was fun. I thought that was a good exclamation point on the end of the movie that I thought-
Alex: Yeah. Just a note about that. I saw that and I was like, “Wow, these people saw Spider-Man Homecoming.”
Justin: Oh, wow.
Pete: Oh man, look at this roast.
Alex: They did. I’m just googling to make sure I didn’t get the dates wrong. But yeah, Spider-Man Homecoming was 2017, 100% ripped off the end credits there.
Pete: Wow. I mean, you don’t know that for a fact but-
Alex: I mean, I could intuit it.
Justin: And on that note, you didn’t see a lot of use of the Shazam family’s last name, their actual last name, Marvel.
Alex: Oh, yeah.
Justin: Mary Marvel is her name.
Alex: Well, just to mention about that in case anybody doesn’t know what Justin’s joking about here. So originally it was Captain Marvel in the comic books due to rights structuring. Obviously, there is a Captain Marvel in Marvel, which I believe they did to… I never really understand this, but essentially be like it was originally a Charlton character that was taken over by DC and they’d never register it. So Marvel was like, “Well, we could register it.” And then they took it away. So eventually, when they knew the movie was a development, it’s been a development. It was a development for almost two decades at that point. They rebooted the character in the comics and very specifically called him Shazam. Occasionally, they’ll refer to him as Captain Marvel, but for the most part, it’s Shazam and that’s what they call the character going forward.
Justin: And that’s why the term Shazamly has cut on when it used to be the Marvel family.
Pete: Yeah. And also they were right. I mean, Thundercrack did sound a little too much [inaudible 00:37:59] to you. So it was fun to use the Captain Sparklefingers and the way they were playing with that was a fun running bit, I thought.
Alex: Yeah. Cool. Well, let’s talk about Shazam! Fury of the Gods then, which again, coming out very shortly. What do you guys think? What are you looking forward to in this movie? Are you looking forward to this movie after this watch/rewatch of the original Shazam?
Pete: Well, the title makes me think it’s going to be light. You know what I mean? Fury of the Gods seems like a light kind of fun, rummy, calmly kind of adventure. So yeah, I’m hoping that they learn from this movie, but by the title, it sounds like they’re not. So I’m a little worried about it.
Justin: Like I said, I like this movie more than I thought I would. I hope that they continue to make it better. Maybe get a little more character development there from your main characters as well as just your random characters so that they feel more like real people and keep up-
Pete: So mostly Darla is what you’re saying? Mostly Darla.
Justin: Potentially. I’d like to see more of the Shazamly there. I think they could be very fun. I think superhero movies, the look of them has fallen off a lot in the intervening years, so I hope they keep up the great look of the movie that they had for this first.
Alex: Yeah. I mean, one little worry is it looks like from the trailers, they’ve amped up the danger and the CGI and everything, there’s big dragons and things exploding and buildings turning and everything. The good news is they’ve got villains in Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu who are great. I would happily watch them murder those children if that’s the way the movie turns out, I guess, what happens.
Justin: Oh, wow. Wow. You’re going to take your kids to that.
Alex: They should wait. Come on.
Justin: Take your kids [inaudible 00:39:47]-
Alex: Probably not. Probably not. But there’s that part of it. The other part of it, and this is a very niche thing. I don’t know if either of you guys or anybody listening out there see a show called Starstruck, which is currently on HBO Max.
Alex: So the plot of Starstruck is it’s like a sex reverse Notting Hill where this woman meets a guy on New Year’s, they hook up. She doesn’t realize he’s one of the biggest movie stars in the world, and they end up dating and figuring things out. And over the course of the first season, he is in this big movie, I think it’s called Keys to Olympus or something like that. And he goes-
Pete: And she have a travel bookshop?
Pete: Well, then what the-
Alex: She works at a movie theater though. It’s great. Pete, this is apropo of Notting. You should watch Starstruck. You will absolutely love it.
Pete: [inaudible 00:40:34] it’s not a fucking Notting Hill.
Justin: A movie theater’s like a bookshop for movies.
Alex: Yeah. For your mind.
Justin: For your mind.
Alex: Anyway, what I was saying was, he goes on this rad, when he reaches a breaking point with this movie where he’s talking about all the stuff in superhero movies and these big budget movies that make no sense. And he just shouts out the lines something like, “Why do you need keys to Olympus? It’s a mountain. You could walk up it.” And that stuck with me so hard at this [inaudible 00:41:02]. It really did because-
Pete: It stuck with me so hard. What a sense.
Alex: Well, because I feel like there’s these logical leaps we make when we watch these movies, and particularly when I’ve been seeing the trailer for Shazam! Fury of the Gods, we’re like we have to break into the underworld when this combination of things using the power of Shazam. I’m like, “Oh no, they need the keys to Olympus.” Oh, what a bummer.
Justin: Well, there’s so much of that in superhero movies. For instance, in this movie where in the Rock of Eternity, the eye of demons is kept in a cage that whenever anyone’s hand touches it, it opens. I was like, “What? First off, put this in a box with a key.”
Alex: Yeah. You have a crocodile door somewhere. Throw it to the crocodile door, come on.
Justin: Oh, man. Put it somewhere else. Why do you have your demons talking to your guests? I wouldn’t have those demons chatting with the kids I’ve invited over to my-
Pete: Yeah. So why when you [inaudible 00:41:53]-
Alex: Put them in the [inaudible 00:41:53]-
Pete: … [inaudible 00:41:53] demons?
Alex: Exactly. Throw them through the crocodile door.
Justin: Throw in the bathroom.
Alex: I want to push the crocodile door, but it’s right there, so come on.
Pete: Seems like you’re pushing crocodile door.
Alex: [inaudible 00:42:01]-
Justin: I know. Didn’t you add a crocodile door to your house, Alex?
Alex: I did. They’re very hungry. I could hear them right now. So we’re probably going to have to wrap this up quick. Any final thoughts on Shazam before we wrap up here? Pete?
Alex: No. Milk is prevalent. Justin, what about you?
Justin: So milk is prevalent. A couple moments. Obviously, there’s a whole segment in the movie showing off the best power that Shazam gets first off, success on YouTube. I think that’s such a funny thing that we do a lot in movies, especially superhero movies, where it’s like, “Look, the hero is becoming famous on YouTube.” And I’m like, “We cannot not do that.” There’s just so many things where every superhero movie from a certain amount of time was made like no one had ever seen a superhero movie before. And I hope we’re ready to move past that because we have seen all of them. And I mean we-
Alex: Dude, YouTube is here to stay, bro.
Justin: I’m not saying YouTube goes away.
Alex: My final thought that I’ll throw out there, apropo of this podcast that we’re taping right now is this movie is much more heavily in the DCEU version of the DC movies that I remembered. Even though they don’t show Henry Cavill’s head, it’s pretty clearly Henry Cavill’s Superman. They’re pretty clearly like they have Batfleck’s batarang in there and everything I’m talking about.
Pete: Oh, man.
Alex: They show off in the end credits, which Pete loved. They showed off Jason Momoa Aquaman and Ezra Miller, The Flash. So it’s very tied there. Given that James Gunn has talked about, “Oh, Shazam was on the side.” This is definitely not on the side. I’m curious how on the side Fury of the Gods is if we are going to get that Dwayne The Rock Johnson cameo, if there are going to be other references if they pulled them out or not. So that’ll be an interesting thing to see.
Justin: Well, I think that points to whether or not the new regime, the Gunn-Safran regime had any chance to get their fingers in this movie and be like, “You know what? Let’s make-“
Pete: But it seems like they didn’t because they said, “Perfect movie, we didn’t do anything.”
Justin: Oh, no. They may have-
Alex: Well, also they delayed it a year and a half or something. So they’ve had plenty of time to make changes, I think.
Justin: And I do think when the original Shazam came out, it was just like, “Well, anything goes, let’s make all these movies part of all one thing even if it’s like different bat people are hanging around in them.” And I think that’s a big change that’s coming under the new Gunn-Safran regime where it’s like, “No, no, let’s be very specific about where this movie fits into the larger picture.”
So I bet this Fury of the Gods is going to be on the side firmly, and I think that’s a good choice because Shazam was never going to be… If you’re making Superman Shazam movies, they shouldn’t be trying to fill the same hole. It’s weird. They’re too similar from a power set point of view and confusing to the casual person who isn’t a huge comic book head that’s like, “Yeah, look at that Superman with a lightning bolt, cool, new, look, shirt he’s wearing.” And it’s like, “No, you need a little difference makers here.” So putting this to the side… But I will say also on this-
Pete: Yeah. Sometimes you don’t get to pick your costume. All right.
Justin: Actually, most of the time you do. I mean, you pick your costume every day, right? Or just someone else.
Pete: I’m quoting Shazam to you.
Justin: Oh, got you.
Alex: Not familiar.
Pete: The movie we just wants to-
Alex: Is the movie any good? Is the movie any good? I haven’t seen it.
Pete: Jesus Christ.
Justin: But Peter Safran is a producer of these movies. He’s had his hand in these a lot. So his hand was already in this movie, but when he took over, so maybe it was much easier to make some-
Pete: So you feel like more Safran. Do you want more Safran? Is that what you’re saying?
Justin: Yeah. That’s my favorite flavor.
Alex: You ever have some Safran milk, Pete? I think he’d really enjoy it.
Pete: Yum. Expensive.
Alex: It’s prevalent. We will be back next time with our thoughts on Shazam! Fury of the Gods, so do be sure to check that out.
Pete: Do be.
Alex: Do be. If you’d like to support this podcast and other podcasts, we do patreon.com/comicbookclub. Also we do a live show every Tuesday night at 7:00 PM to Facebook and YouTube. Come hang out, we’d love to chat with you about the DCEU. Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, or the app of your choice to subscribe, listen, and follow the show at comicbooklive on Twitter, comicbookclublive on TikTok and Instagram, comicbookclublive.com for this podcast and many more. Until next time. Dad, you’re doing a great job.
Justin: Dad, keep it up. I’m sorry I didn’t make our trip triple bunk beds this morning. I will as soon as I get home.