Apr
24
2019

So, hey, we can talk about Shazam! now. [SPOILERS]

It’s been two weeks since Shazam! came out, after all. If you haven’t seen this movie (go see this movie) yet, you either don’t care about spoilers or you can stop reading at this point, because there’s gonna be a spoiler or two. Fair warning, and all that.

SPOILERS BELOW.

OK. My favorite part of Shazam! — and it was a genuinely good, Good-aligned movie — was, hands down, the introduction of the Marvel Family. This movie hews to the Shazam!: Origins storyline from 2011, hints of which a lot of eagle-eyed sorts picked up on. Nobody wanted to hope too much or anything, because it would have been a bit crushing to hope that they’d actually give the other kids powers like they did in that comic book series, only to have our hopes destroyed.

But! They did! All five kids got their own powers, just like they were supposed to, and the adult actors did a great job in portraying kids-in-grownup-bodies. Can’t wait for the next one, because you can get an entire movie out of them all figuring it out, and then you can have the Black Adam movie, and after that the franchise can look out for itself. …But who was my favorite Marvel Family portrayal? Easy: Pedro, hands down. That was a great character sketch. And, in a lot of ways, this kid? This kid was the one who needed his transformation the most (yes, even more than Freddy did).

Let me explain. Pedro, when we meet him, is a kid with a hell of a lot of problems. He’s quiet. He struggles in school. And, shoot, he’s a foster kid*. But: he’s also large. Not really muscular-large, though; fat-large. Still big for his size. It’d be the easiest thing in the world for this kid to be a bully, in other words, but Pedro’s not. He’s a good kid (they all are, to the point where you’re wondering why they’re still in foster care) who watches everything, and then quietly helps for the sake of helping.

So, yeah, give that kid a lightning bolt chest light. Smart move there, Billy. Really smart move. Wisdom of Solomon-type move, in fact.

Anyway, Pedro gets buffed up when he gets his power set: and it’s clear that he’s got the super-strength package. We see that when a Ferris wheel takes some damage from the super-fight, and it starts to buckle, and he zooms over to stop it from crashing and killing people. I got this, I got this! he says, as he tries to hold it up with main strength. And you know what happens in a comedy when somebody says that a couple of times, right?

Yeah. Sorry, wait, no. Pedro keeps the Ferris wheel from falling over. As he realizes that, holy moly, none of what just happened to him is really only just a cruel prank being played on him by a vicious universe, Pedro says something like Wait a second. I do have this. He’s strong enough. Finally, he has what he needs to help hold up the world.

People in this culture can sometimes say a lot of unkind things about power fantasies. I decline to fully get into that debate, but; just like escapism is a wonderful thing to people who cannot actually escape**, power fantasies are a wonderful thing to those without actual power. And there is a deep, if vicarious pleasure in being told a story about a bunch of good kids who have been given the power to back up their intentions with righteous action.

Moe Lane

PS: Make the sequels soon, before these kids grow up. And don’t squirm when their agents make the universal Pay me hand sign. They all earned it.

*Might also be gay, but if Pedro is then he was acting the way that kids this age who think they might be gay really act; to wit, with a hell of a lot of hesitation and a profound reluctance to actually say anything potentially socially isolating out loud.

**JRR Tolkien? CS Lewis? Somebody who was exasperated on the topic, to be sure.

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4 Comments

  • Luke says:

    I don’t think fantasies of power in and of themselves are hated by anybody but a few would-be jailers.
    It’s the protagonist-centered morality that so often accompanies them which annoys people.

  • Jon says:

    I liked that they definitely built up the mythology for the Family to come together, that was well done. I was a bit less than thrilled with the action scene itself. The Pitch Meeting guy and I are on the same page with that.

  • 1_rick says:

    I was cracking up throughout the movie, particularly with lines like “Kamehameha” and the one about not being a hacker but having played a lot of WATCH_DOGS.

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