Writing Movie “WRONGS”
By Jim West
Directed by David F. Sandberg
Written by Henry Gayden and Darren Lemke
Since the 2018 huge success of the colorful and fun filled Aquaman, DC has finally learned that melodrama and dark tones are not what audiences want with their superhero films. Shazam may not bring in the big box office numbers as Aquaman, but it should do well in spite of following familiar story beats of a superhero discovers his powers type story. With two writers on this film, they both pulled off a film perfect for middle graders and as a PG-13 film hits all the proper notes in tone, levity, and heart. This is a very solid balancing act at work here story wise, and Asher Angel and Zachary Levi who play Billy Batson / Shazam respectively turn in some good scenes throughout the film.
Here comes the spoilers.
The last wizard Shazam is protecting the seven realms from the seven deadly sins. He is old and needs to find his “Champion” aka successor to take over protecting of the rock of eternity which all magic flows from. Many people, mostly kids are transported to the rock of eternity to test their worthiness to possess the powers of Shazam and everyone fails the test as they get tempted by the deadly sins to seize power that would break them free from their imprisonment. A young boy gets shunned by his brother and father when he tries to tell them about the experience he had with Shazam and the rock of eternity.
Jump to present day Philadelphia and we are introduced to Billy Batson who is in foster care and keeps running away in search of his mother he got separated from as a young child. This element of Billy being a foster kid and going to a group home I feel does wonders for connecting to kids in foster care. There are over 400,000 kids in foster care in the states, and I just think this film handles the emotional backstory for Billy perfectly. Billy gives this group home family a chance. The next day after defending his new foster brother during a fight with bullies at the school, Billy escapes to the subway and then gets transported to the rock of eternity where Shazam give shim his powers to be the new Champion. The film handles him discovering his powers with lots of humor and playfulness. I mean what would a 12 year old kid do with an adult body with superpowers. The young boy from the opening of the film who was told he wasn’t worthy grew up to become the villain and battles Billy for the ultimate control over the magical powers.
Now it is a quick line in the film, but if you paid attention or a fan of the comic books you would know that SHAZAM is actually an acronym of Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury. The only minor thing I would change in this film is to explore the Wisdom of Solomon. The other powers get well covered in the film and story, but never did Billy use the wisdom of the Gods. This would perhaps have been revealed as the ultimate power the deadly sins were most afraid of. This could have enhanced the final climatic scene with Billy getting instantly visited by way of time freeze by spirits representing the Gods who take him through a crash course of the history of the rock of eternity and their former wizards etc. Then they send Billy back in the same instant during battle where he realizes what he must do to win the battle against the deadly sins.
I would say this is a minor thing and perhaps being saved for a sequel which I hope this film gets. Kudos to the writers on the way they handled the foster family elements, as well as, Billy’s journey to find his long lost mother with heart and levity. For that alone I give this film a ‘Writing a Movie RIGHT’ nod.
Thanks for reading ‘Writing Movie ‘WRONGS’.