Happy Shazam! weekend, everybody. Zachary Levi's superhero movie can stand on its own, but technically it is the seventh movie in the DC Extended Universe. When you're in a "universe," you get compared to your predecessors and successors. That's true for box office -- and we'll get those opening weekend numbers tomorrow (Sunday 4/7) -- but also for critical and fan reactions. One metric I'm always curious to see is the CinemaScore, since it polls moviegoers on opening night.
If you see a movie opening night, you're usually pretty eager for it, which can lend itself to a more positive-than-usual reaction -- unless you're disappointed, and then the fall from high expectations can be rough. The new April 5th movies now have fresh CinemaScores out -- and while Pet Sematary is sitting with a disappointing C+, Shazam! is enjoying an A.
Sticking with CinemaScores, let's see how Shazam! compares to the other DCEU movies, listed in order of release:
Man of Steel (2013) - CinemaScore: A-
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) - Cinemascore: B
Suicide Squad (2016) - CinemaScore: B+
Wonder Woman (2017) - CinemaScore: A
Justice League (2017) - CinemaScore: B+
Aquaman (2018) - CinemaScore: A-
Shazam! (2019) - CinemaScore: A
Are you surprised that Shazam! and Wonder Woman both got the top A grades? Not surprised at all? Aquaman and Man of Steel tied, any surprises there? That one does kind of surprise me. The box office certainly preferred Aquaman, but opening night moviegoers were just as fond of Henry Cavill's debut as Superman.
Batman v Superman got the lowest score with a B, which isn't that low, except it is pretty low for opening night superheroes. That was probably an expectation fall -- people walking in with high hopes and then not quite getting what they wanted. Again, though, this is just a selection of polled fans who saw the movies opening night. They may not be DC superfans, they could've just been excited for that weekend's new blockbuster. Justice League got a B+, despite the continued debate over Zack Snyder's vision as director before Joss Whedon showed up for reshoots.
Feel free to look up any other movies you want to use for comparison -- if you want to stay in the DC Comics world, Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy movies all got As. In the Marvel Comics world, Captain Marvel has an A, Avengers: Infinity War also got an A. Marvel's The Avengers actually got an A+ back in 2012. That might've been another expectation reaction -- not expecting that much and being completely wowed. (I bet the shawarma scene nailed it.)
Shazam! is in a unique position in that it does feel like its own thing, with just a few connections to the larger DC world. However, it seems like just the latest win following the billion dollar success of Aquaman. It may not make that kind of money, but it's already beating expectations at the box office.
Shazam! is now in theaters. What would you grade it? Vote below...