The superhero Shazam, formerly known by his beloved golden age name, Captain Marvel, became a fan favorite among readers right from the 40s, partially due to the charm the character brought and partially due to his unique origin. Although creators C.C. Beck and Bill Parker conceptualized the World’s Mightiest Mortal in 1940 with the recently debuted Man of Steel in mind, the departure from conventional superhero origins by making a teenager magically transformed into the all-powerful hero added distinctiveness. Later, as Captain Marvel, aka young Billy Batson, merrily shared his powers among hapless souls, the innovativeness kept adding on. Freddy Freeman and Mary Bromfield were the two major characters with whom the Captain shared his powers. The trio was known as Marvel Family and had their own titles, which became immensely popular.
Later, during the DC Universe reboot event, New 52, as Captain Marvel was revamped by Geoff Johns and became known as Shazam, he had an extended adopted sibling family to share his power of the gods with. Needless to say, the Shazam family commands significant importance in the lore of the character, and the first movie, “Shazam” (2019), which adapts the New 52 version of the character, represented that very well with the chemistry between its young characters. In the sequel, “Shazam! Fury of the Gods,” as the daughters of Atlas seek to take back the powers, the bond between the found family is tested and once again acts as the USP of the Shazam movie franchise.
As seen in the first installment, our teenage protagonist Billy Batson, portrayed by Asher Angel and Zachary Levi, was endowed with godly powers by the Wizard Shazam, which he later shared with his adopted siblings to save them from Dr.Sivana and the Seven Deadly Sins. By the end of the first movie, an orphan named Billy is able to accept his adoptive Vasquez family as his own and is ecstatic to be the unofficial leader of his superfamily, endearingly named Shazamily by Billy. In “Shazam! Fury of the Gods,” the first time we meet Billy, he is in the office of a pediatrician, with whom he wants to consult about his imposter syndrome, which stems from living among a multitude of superheroes. But as the doctor professes later, Billy’s real issue is his inescapable feeling of abandonment. During the events of the first movie, we came to know how an orphan named Billy skipped through foster homes in search of his birth mother, and when he finally met her, he was heartbroken after knowing the truth behind her deliberate abandonment. Billy tries to keep the bond among his siblings as intact as it was in the beginning, but as the siblings age, they naturally drift apart from each other and get busy with their own lives. Even his best friend and brother, Freddy, gets so occupied with personal interests that Billy feels neglected. Billy’s past trauma makes it difficult for him to call his adoptive parent, Rosa, his mother. It’s safe to say that although Billy had what he wanted for a long time—a place to belong—his worries are far from over.
In fact, it’s due to Billy’s immaturity that the daughters of Atlas got their hands on the broken pieces of the staff so easily. Throughout a major part of the movie, Billy’s unintentional callousness keeps causing problems, which ultimately results in all of his siblings getting depowered and a full-scale invasion of mythical monstrosities and Kalypso in the city. A remorseful, nervous, and insecure Billy asks the Wizard to take away his powers as he doesn’t feel worthy enough to wield them. On the contrary, the Wizard reassures Billy of his trust in his purity of heart, as by sharing his powers, he has proven that, given a chance, everyone is worthy—this actually goes so well with the character’s classic routes. Before flying off to the final fight, Billy reconciles with Rosa and calls him his mother, gaining the necessary emotional boost to make a truly heroic stand. During the final battle, Billy sacrifices his life to save his family and the world and later gets resurrected with Wonder Woman’s help. The movie’s focus on the coming-of-age journey of Billy culminates in Billy’s eventual emergence as a true hero.
Jake Dylan Grazer’s Freddy Freeman (Adam Brody had much less screentime and effect comparatively) and Billy Batson’s brotherly relationship was one of the major highlights of the first movie, which continues to carry on its essence in the sequel also. In comics, a disabled teenager named Freddy gained powers from Captain Marvel and was known as Captain Marvel Jr. Even though he started as a sidekick, Captain Marvel Jr. soon had a comic book title of his own and became extremely popular, so much so that the King of Rock, Elvis Presley, was an ardent fan of the character in his childhood. In the movie, Freddy’s witty, charming persona didn’t change due to his newfound superpowers; it’s just that he grew up and got super busy sneakily flying off at night to engage in vigilante activities. His camaraderie with Billy is still the same, even though life has taken them down different paths, and the childish excitement of being a superhero has somewhat diminished. Freddy’s lapse in judgment gets him into a troublesome situation as he gets abducted by the daughters of Atlas. However, his feelings for Anne or Anthea are not misplaced, as it is through Freddy’s inherent goodness that Anthea realizes the human potential for righteousness and eventually joins their side. Freddy’s amazing mental strength is evident when he resists the psychological attacks of Kalypso and later of Ladon. During the course of the movie, Freddy embarks on his own journey of realizing his true worth outside his superhero persona, which is as gallant as his cape-wearing adult form. As Billy sacrifices himself to nullify the threat of Kalypso, it is once again Freddy who holds him close—Billy’s brother and best friend, who, as the Wizard later remarks, is as pure of heart as Billy.
Actor Grace Caroline Currey reprises her role as Mary Bromfield, this time in both human and empowered form. Mary is the eldest sister of Shazamily and is more intelligent and wise than her age. Even without being empowered by the wisdom of Solomon, she is aware of the ways of the world. In the last movie, it was Mary who was able to deduce Billy’s identity as the superhero Shazam. She also had to leave behind the promising prospect of joining Caltech due to her love for her new family. The time we first meet her, we get to see that Mary knows that they can no longer live under the same roof due to foster care stipulations, and also due to living under a mortgage already; Victor and Rosa will soon be left without funds for the ones reaching adulthood. She empathizes with Billy’s fear of abandonment but knows pretty well that she cannot afford to sugarcoat her words while making him understand the reality of the situation. Mary directly conveys the bitter truth of the aforementioned situation to Billy. As the eldest sister, she is always protective of her siblings in the absence of their parents, which is shown multiple times throughout the two movies. Even though Billy is the unofficial leader of Shazamily, he totally depends on Mary’s wisdom and maturity. As she sits hungover during the Shazamily meeting at the Rock of Eternity, we get a hint of her life outside the family boundary, and the realization hits sharper than ever that the number of attendees in the sibling group will not be the same in the near future. We really wish Mary Bromfield gets her own spin-off titles, which can allow the character to explore life and the superhero journey on her own, and the iconic stories of Mary Marvel in comics can do a brilliant job as source material already.
Darla Dudley, Eugene Choi, And Pedro Pena
Despite having a limited role, the younger three siblings, Darla, Eugene, and Pedro, are given significant character moments to stand out. The youngest of the bunch, Darla, has her pristine innocence intact and holds her elder brothers and sisters close with her usual affectionate demeanor. Thanks to Darla, the team finds a way to tackle the threat of mythical monsters by taming the mighty unicorns, and it is she who provides the most-awaited, fan-favorite easter egg of Tawky Tawny’s appearance through the rescued kitten.
In the movie, we find that the reserved bookaholic Pedro has come out with his sexuality. Pedro helps the team find Steve, the sentient, all-knowing pen who aids in their battle with the gods. The clumsy, nerdy Eugene is still stuck inside screens playing AAA games, but his explorations through the chamber of doors in the Rock of Eternity help the team navigate through perilous realms.
Despite some of the changes that naturally come with aging, the Shazam family is ever united, and the assurance of their being together is known when their adoptive parents, Victor and Rosa, let them know that they managed to buy the house. The sibling dynamic is a very distinctive characteristic of the franchise that separates it from a plethora of other superhero entries, and we sincerely hope that never changes.