The future of the Shazam! franchise is pretty murky following the release of Shazam! Fury of the Gods. However, it would be a mistake to exclude the fun-loving DC hero from James Gunn‘s rebooted slate because Shazam brings a much needed value to the DC universe that makes him unique. Shazam! made his debut in Whiz Comics No. 2 back in 1939, and the DC hero was an extremely popular character that outsold Superman and Batman.
However, Shazam didn’t make his live-action debut until 2019. On the surface, there wasn’t anything particularly new about Shazam’s story, however, the origins on how the character was created was certainly unique. Shazam! also brought a light-hearted tone to the DC Universe, which is still reeling from the Zack Synder-verse where the world was mostly grim and dour. The first film itself may be a generic, but the character is far from anything ordinary. Shazam deserves to be in James Gunn’s DCU because he’ll fit right in with the themes of Gods and Monsters.
Shazam’s Light-Hearted Humor Can Stand Out From The Darker Films In The DCU
The biggest attributes that separates DC from Marvel is that their films are typically gritty and darker. This isn’t a bad thing because classics such as The Dark Knight and Joker exist, but diverse storytelling is part of the reason the MCU is such a huge success in the beginning. Most films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe follow the light-hearted and comic formula; however, Captain America: Winter Solider showcased that the studio is capable of telling compelling darker stories. The first Shazam! was a good movie; but as previously stated, the origin story wasn’t anything special. However, the feature stands out because of the mythology surrounding the character itself. The nice balance of humor certainly helped.
If the writers can really dig into the roots of Shazam and play with the alter ego that Billy transforms into then they could have something truly special on their hands. Shazam is right up James Gunn‘s alley because the filmmaker has a knack for telling stories with quirky and unorthodox characters. The DCU does have several stories with comedic elements going on, namely Peacemaker and The Suicide Squad, but Shazam would be a great counterpart against the brutal violence within those films. Plus, the character’s personality can be a great storytelling device for interacting with the more darker heroes or villains like Batman. There’s nothing wrong with DC’s brand of a gritty and dark universe, but there’s unlimited possibilities by including different tones and themes within in.
The Mythology of Shazam’s Origins Plays Into The DCU’s Themes Gods and Monsters
Shazam’s lineage goes back to when his character was first called Captain Marvel. The superhero is one of the pioneers of DC and the themes surrounding his character play greatly into the phase one title of Gods and Monsters. Examining the mythology of Shazam and the six Gods that gave him the powers can help expand the DCU in a way that adds depth and nuance to multiple characters. It can be like The Eternals, a study on the past that has consequences and effects on the future.
Shazam’s mythology can give better meaning to characters like Superman or The Authority. The original Shazam comics touched upon themes of religion that isn’t set to be explored much within the DCU. Bringing that sense of morality helps audiences understand the ideas of Gods and Monsters, and allows the DC world to organically grow with a sense of purpose throughout each film. Shazam may not be portrayed as the most important hero in modern times, but the ideology surrounding the character can course correct the DCU and bring some nice complexity that benefits all characters within its universe.