If you ask any true comic book nerd, Shazam! is the original/real Captain Marvel. When DC licensed Captain Marvel from Fawcett Comics in 1972 they had to change the comic book name to Shazam! because Marvel had already trademarked their own superhero named Captain Marvel in 1967 (assholes). So, it may be a tad bit annoying for some of the geekiest fangirls and boys out there going into this movie, especially considering Marvel/Disney’s very generic and lackluster Captain Marvel premiered only about month prior to this.
But this new, streamlined, extremely self-aware and hilarious treatment of the classic Billy Batson character/story refuses to get all bogged down with the minor details of its own mythos and instead focuses on just the red-meat essentials of Shazam! lore, while offering a unique, fresh and clever spin on the source material that both super-dorks and casual audiences (that know nothing about this superhero) can really sink their teeth into. Excellent script with wonderful witty dialogue (and some fun twists you don’t really see coming!). Seriously, I haven’t been to a screening where everyone was laughing this hard in a long time! Terrific casting and acting, not just by the two leads, Zachary Levi and Mark Strong, but from the entire ensemble of mostly young actors – not a weak link in the bunch.
After a string of duds., Shazam! shows us that a decently produced movie is possible in the DC/Warner Bros. universe. Although not 100% sticking to the source material, this is as close as you’re gonna get to the perfect superhero movie. Stick around through the end credits where you’ll see some fun animation set to The Ramones’ cover of Tom Waits’ “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up.”