Most modern superhero movies have a way of being either entirely too kitschy or entirely too dark, and no movie universe featuring them has struggled with this more than the DC Universe, where Ben Affleck’s Batman skulks around, getting into bizarre pissing matches with Kryptonians. With the exception of Wonder Woman, the characters in the DCU spend far more time brooding than they do fighting (or making money at the box office). Now, DC seems ready to fight its reputation for ponderous fare by releasing a genuinely fun superhero movie. The first trailer for Shazam, a remake of the 1970s TV show (not the Shaq movie Kazaam), makes it clear that the film will be both fun and kid-friendly.
The movie follows a 14-year-old orphan named Billy Batson, who, after meeting an ancient wizard, gets a fun new power: When he yells “Shazam,” he turns into a super-strong superhero with a grown man’s body and lighting powers. While Batson’s body changes, he remains a 14-year-old with impulse control issues and a sense that with great power comes great potential for hijinks. It is, to put it bluntly, a solid premise.
The trailer, which shows Billy and one of his friends geeking out over his powers, is hilarious and makes it clear that the film will serve as a lighthearted allegory about puberty. But it definitely won’t get mired in double meanings. There’s a lot of physical comedy, pretty much zero introspection, and swole Zachary Levi is a suit that makes him look like powerful enough to be a bench player for the Warriors.
Perhaps the most notable element of the trailer — the item worth dwelling on — is Shazam’s suit. It’s bright red with a big lightning bolt. It is, in short, dumb but fun. The guy looks more like a vintage action figure than a modern superhero. And that’s great. Kids need something to play with and it’s pretty clear that Batman can’t come out today.