Lightening Fails to Strike Twice

Shazam! Fury of the Gods

“Shazam! Fury of the Gods” has not only received a lackluster response from viewers, but it has also financially bombed at the box office. The film, released March 17, serves as the debatably unneeded sequel to the 2019 movie “Shazam!”.

“Shazam!” (2019) debuted between two Marvel blockbusters, “Captain Marvel” and “Avengers: Endgame” and featured a character who was relatively unknown to mainstream audiences. Against the odds, the movie managed to make $367.8 million worldwide in theaters. As a sequel, “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” had name recognition on its side and had an increase in scale, budget, characters, and effects. However, as of April 2, the film has only made $119.9 million.

Along with its monetary failures, the response to “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” has been less than stellar. “Shazam!” (2019) earned a largely positive response, receiving a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, and is heavily regarded as one of the best DC Comics films. In comparison, “Fury of the Gods” received mediocre ratings with a 51% on Rotten Tomatoes

There are several factors that might have caused “Shazam! Fury of the Gods”’s underwhelming reception, including poorly written scripts, bad performances, or simply audiences growing apathy for superhero movies. 

“Shazam!” (2019) focused its plot on main character Billy Batson (Asher Angel) and his relationship with his new foster brother Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer). “Fury of the Gods”, on the other hand, attempts to juggle six superheroes, their parents, three villains, a wizard, and world building for an entirely different magical dimension in just two hours and ten minutes. Any character that is not Billy has at most three scenes for their arc; some do not receive even one. 

It seems like the ideas for this film would have better suited a television series, especially with the number of characters written into the script.

While the film definitely had more characters than it had time for, there was clearly–and unfortunately–more than enough time for Zachary Levi’s performance. 

In the first movie, Asher Angel, who played teenager Billy Batson, and Levi, who acted as the teen’s superhero alter ego, cohesively played a singular character. However, in “Fury of the Gods”, teenage Billy and superhero Shazam feel like completely separate individuals instead of the same person in a different form. This is no fault of Angel; Levi, however, seemingly forgot how to do his job between the two films.

Any character that is not Billy has at most three scenes for their arc; some do not receive even one.

While Levi decided his character needed to act like an idiot, director David F. Sandberg decided Billy needed to be constantly in his superhero form. There are a painful number of scenes with no need for Levi to be the one playing Billy, yet for some reason he is filling the role. The rare scenes we get of Angel are remarkably refreshing and show how criminally underused he is in this film.

The film tries to tie back to some sort of message about family but fails to actually show the characters being a family. Their parents have what feels like 10 lines of dialogue between them. It’s clear the movie forgot about them or at the very least didn’t know what to do with them; in fact, the movie didn’t know what to do with most of the characters.

If a third “Shazam!” wasn’t already unlikely due to James Gunn’s new DC Comic Universe, then the reception of “Fury of the Gods” sealed it. Whether superhero fatigue or poor quality is to blame, this sequel failed to resonate with audiences like its predecessor.