Shazam Might Be The Best Post-Christopher Nolan DC Movie, And Here's Why

Zachary Levi with the lightning as Shazam!
(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Shazam! I mean, come on now, that’s just fun to say. And honestly, fun is the key word that I would use to describe the movie Shazam!, which came out during a dark – LITERALLY – period for DC movies. You know what I’m talking about, but if I need to spell it out, I mean the Snyderverse, which could, who knows, one day be restored. But, if I’m being completely honest, I hope it’s not, since I found the Snyderverse WAY too dour (and dark) for my personal taste. I’m not saying that DC movies need to be bright and jokey like the Marvel movies, but I would like it if they had a bit more personality, like Shazam!, which I think is the best post-Christopher Nolan DC movie there is.    

Now, that’s not to say that all of these movies have been a total wash. I’m not really into Man of Steel, but I know it has its fans (and you’re in luck if you’re one, since Henry Cavill wants to make audiences “feel like they can fly” in his next appearance.   

I’m also well aware that the first Wonder Woman was a touchstone moment, and received positive reviews. That movie was…fine. But, I think many will agree that the third act was a little clunky. Still, this article isn’t about Wonder Woman or Man of Steel. It’s about Shazam!, and why I think it’s the best post-Christopher Nolan movie out of the DCEU to date. 

Oh, and some spoilers up ahead.  

Zachary Levi with the glowing lighting symbol

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

It Has Personality In Spades 

I recently saw Black Adam, and, well, I didn’t like it. Our very own Eric Eisenberg said it has “interesting ideas with underwhelming execution,”  and I think that sums it up pretty nicely, even though I think “interesting ideas” is a bit charitable. Though, I did find it “underwhelming.”   

That said, I feel that way about most of the DC movies following The Dark Knight Rises. Man of Steel made Superman boring…and violent. Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice had a compelling Batman, but a boring everything else, and don’t even get me started on The Justice League. Either version. In truth, I think the DCEU sucks the life out of every character it touches. Aquaman included, despite Jason Momoa’s performance. 

Except for Shazam! Even back in 2019, I knew it was something special. Here was a movie that didn’t even bother to fit in with the overall tone of the DCEU. It was a movie that had heart, jokes, and by gum, personality, in spades! All of the cast is great, especially Mark Strong as the nefarious Dr. Thaddeus Sivana. He had a thankless role as a mundane villain, but he infused it with an interesting spark that actually fit into this bizarre world where a boy can turn into a superhero. In fact, every single aspect of this film just oozes with uniqueness, and it even made me interested in the character, who I never cared about when I tried reading his comic series, so that’s saying something.  

Zachary Levi on a roof in Shazam!

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

It’s Colorful, But Not Annoyingly So Like Suicide Squad 

Plus, Shazam! is really colorful. Aquaman was also colorful, and so was Suicide Squad, but the latter two films seemed to be colorful as a statement. Like, "Look at us, we’re not like the other DCEU films from the Snyderverse! Please give us money!" 

I didn’t find Aquaman annoying with its underwater version of Wakanda, but I did find Suicide Squad (not to be confused with THE Suicide Squad) to be obnoxious with all of its colors. Even at night time, the colors (and yeah, the characters) annoyed me, and it just reminded me of how much I hate colors when I feel they are being used for ersatz purposes. Like, the characters and the story are lame, so let’s make all the colors a character itself! See: Thor: Love and Thunder. Or don’t. 

However, Shazam! is colorful, but it feels completely organic. It’s like, in this world, there’s just a lot of color, from the costumes, to the powers, to the setting itself, and in this circumstance, while the colors are a character, they’re not a distraction. They add to the universe that this story creates, and I love it. It really makes the movie stand out. In a good way!  

Zachary Levi is Shazam

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Zachary Levi Is Literally Perfect In The Role 

I know this is a bold statement, but Robert Downey Jr. IS Iron Man, and Zachary Levi IS Shazam! Now, I may not be the best authority on this since I’m not a huge fan of Shazam! as a character, but from just this movie alone (I seriously can’t wait for Shazam 2: Fury of the Gods), I can tell you that I couldn’t see anybody else playing this character. That’s how well Levi embodies the performance.   

He’s just got it all. The humor, the goofy, kid-like enthusiasm for actually having superpowers, even his mannerisms just work so much in the character’s favor. A better example than Robert Downey Jr. might be Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. Is Jackman ANYTHING like the Wolverine from the comics? Well, physically, not at all, but personality-wise, I think he did a great job. Especially in Logan, which is definitely worth re-watching.   

This comparison between Jackman and Levi is apt, because even though he might not be comic-accurate, per se, he definitely fits the bill in the cinematic version of the character. Zachary Levi OWNS this role, and I wouldn’t even bother with the sequel if he wasn’t donning the cape again.   

Zachary Levi with the crew in Shazam

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

It Has One Of The Best Third Acts In A Comic Book Movie Ever 

I mentioned Wonder Woman earlier, and how much people love that movie, and it IS good…In the first two acts. But, man, that third act and her fight with Ares is rough. I don’t just mean the CGI, which…could have been better. I mean with the whole reveal in general. It took a great movie and turned it into a good movie with a middling ending. You always gotta stick the landing! 

Well, guess what, Shazam! does. In its conclusion, all of Billy Baston’s foster brothers and sisters also get powers, and it ties in all the intertwining themes of family in a beautifully (and badass) satisfying way that even makes the tried-and-true, good guys vs. bad guy monster fight still feel energetic, engaging, and fun. 

I really loved the third act of the first Doctor Strange movie with Dormammu, since I found it really original, but I thought the rest of the movie was lacking. Not so with Shazam!, where I thought every act, from beginning to end, worked, with the climax possibly being the best part. I love this movie’s third act, and I think it’s something that all other comic book films should take notice of. It doesn’t have to just be some boring brawl. Shazam! proves that.  

Zachary Levi ready for action in Shazam!

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

It Legitimately Made Me Excited For More Of The DCEU…At The Time 

Lastly, Shazam! is, unfortunately, the only DCEU-era film that actually made me excited for the DCEU. Justice League was supposed to do that, but when it tripped over its own cape and fell on its face, I really had no more interest at all. But then, Shazam! came out, and I was legitimately excited by its end credits scene. It made me ecstatic for what came next, as I thought Shazam! was a sea change for where the DCEU was heading.   

Then we got stuff like Wonder Woman 1984 (terrible), Birds of Prey (decent), Zack Snyder’s Justice League (Too long!), The Suicide Squad (decent), The Batman (that one’s actually pretty good) and Black Adam (boring) and now, I feel like I’m just done with the DCEU again. The only film I’m actually looking forward to is Shazam 2, and that makes me sad, since Shazam! is really that good, and I want to see other great live-action DC films, but they’re just not consistently great for some reason. And that sucks. 

Shazam 2 gives me hope. What do you think? Do you love the first Shazam! as much as I do? For more news on all things DC make sure to swing by here often.  

Rich Knight
Content Producer

Rich is a Jersey boy, through and through. He graduated from Rutgers University (Go, R.U.!), and thinks the Garden State is the best state in the country. That said, he’ll take Chicago Deep Dish pizza over a New York slice any day of the week. Don’t hate. When he’s not watching his two kids, he’s usually working on a novel, watching vintage movies, or reading some obscure book.