When Zack Snyder’s Justice League was released in 2021, it proved to be an unofficial pivot point for the DC Extended Universe. Since then, the DCEU has become the DCU. Marvel alum James Gunn replaced Snyder at the helm, and humor, levity, and color are now allowed in their films.

The direction the DCU is heading, however, feels wonky at best. Even in lieu of recent announcements, there are still many questions concerning what the ultimate vision may be.

In between the DCEU’s past darkness and uncertain future lies the two Shazam! movies. The first of these was released in 2019, providing the DCU with much-needed lightheartedness. There were no brooding superheroes suffering from deep existential crises here. Four years later, Shazam! Fury of the Gods releases with little to no fanfare, through no fault of its own.

For this go-around, Billy Batson (Asher Angel) and his adoptive siblings must indeed weather the fury of the gods. In this instance, the gods are Hespera (Helen Mirren), Kalypso (Lucy Liu), and Anthea (Rachel Zegler). They have returned to Earth seeking the magical powers taken from them centuries ago. The wizard Shazam (Djimon Hounsou) had been keeping these malevolent forces from Earth with his staff, which was destroyed at the end of part 1. Even though this plot point creates the latest conflict for the Shazamily, it is a rather large plot hole that extends to the rest of the connected DCU.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods

From there, Mirren and Lui showcase powers summoned via magical words. CGI beasts (including a cool dragon) wreak havoc on a city. The heroes save the day, but not before more superhero cameos are shoehorned in assumedly at the behest of a film studio struggling to find any continuity and connection between their franchises.

The cast of Shazam! largely returns to reprise their roles. Newcomers Liu and Mirren seem to be having a blast playing dress-up going tete-a-tete against the Shazam siblings. Zegler is good in her turn although somewhat self-serious. Zackary Levi returns as Batson’s superhero form, bringing all the charisma and goofiness back to the role, even though that goofiness is sometimes at odds with Angel’s more straight-faced portrayal of the character.

The Shazam story through the two movies is easy to digest. But Shazam! Fury of the Gods, like its predecessor, is one of the few DCU movies with something to say. Billy Batson must fight dragons, yes. But his main concern is aging out of the foster care program. His adoptive parents already foster four other children (Mary – played by Grace Caroline Currey – has already aged out and is working while studying to help ends meet). The financial burden may be too much to bear, and Billy may have no choice but to leave his family.

It is an earnest commentary on the state of the foster care program in this country. The cost of these programs, followed by the cost of adoption, too often neglects children on their way to young adulthood.

Both Shazam movies also challenge the notion of the “traditional” family. Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer), Eugene (Ian Chen), Pedro (Jovan Armand), Darla (Faithe Herman), Mary, and Billy create a multiethnic family. Their parents, Rosa (Marta Milans) and Victor (Cooper Andrews), also come from diverse cultures and backgrounds. Shazam! Fury of the Gods firmly stands on the side of found family that love, care, and nurture us. Not necessarily who we are born to.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Shazam! Fury of the Gods may not lay fresh asphalt on the road the DCU is trying to pave. A mid-credits scene may offer a glimpse into what the plan is, or it may also confuse audiences further. In any case, the film is a decent offering filled with humor, charm, action, and social commentary for all audiences and their families to enjoy, whoever their families may be.

Borja’s rating 6.5/10Check out Brian’s Review here.

What did you think of Shazam! Fury of the Gods? Let us know in the comments below! Watch Shazam! Fury of the Gods on Max.

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