Shazam! (2019)

Well, that was about a thousand times better than I expected. I took our son to see this because I’ve always had a soft spot for the Big Red Cheese, and even he wasn’t all that thrilled about the idea. But this turned out to be an incredibly charming movie with more surprises than superhero movies typically have and he loved it. About which, if you’re on the fence, you should probably get into a theater before you take your next trip down the toy department at Target, or to the next cosplay-friendly comic con.

Some of it’s a little by-the-numbers, sure. It’s practically a Marvel movie with another company’s characters, to the extent that I spotted something that was there in the 1974 scene and wasn’t there when we returned to the location in the present day, and figured “Well, that’s the mid-ending credits scene,” and was not wrong. But it also throws out several very fun surprises, including a delightful wink and a hat tip to that place where Mike and Sully worked in Monsters, Inc.

Our son said that he liked this every bit as much as Captain Marvel. So there’s your “who wins” argument settled: it’s a tie.

Interestingly, they seem to go back and forth between calling the hero of this film either “Shazam” or “Champion” within the narrative, since DC/Warners ceded ownership of his previous name. I like how Billy and Freddie’s inability to come up with a name for him is actually a plot point. Anyway, the movie stars Asher Angel as Billy Batson and Zachary Levi as Shazam, or Captain Sparklefingers, or the Red Cyclone, or something, and John Glover gets to continue his strange career as the father of evil supervillains. I hope you can see it before too much gets spoiled.

Image credit: Heroic Hollywood