Arts, Movies

Family Dynamic in ‘Shazam! Fury of the Gods’ Proves Superhero Films Are Here to Stay


Superhero fatigue has been the buzz around Hollywood as Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania failed to impress both critics and audiences last month. Luckily, Shazam! Fury of the Gods assures viewers that superhero flicks should be here to stay.

Shazam! 2, much like its predecessor, asks its audience the enduring question: What defines love and the bond that comes with  family? Through two parallel stories, the movie shows that family bonds are rooted deeper than blood—they are a measure of love and loyalty. 

The DC Comics sequel follows Billy Batson (Asher Angel) on his quest to better serve the greater Philadelphia area as superhero Shazam (Zachary Levi). Billy’s foster family is still learning how to use its new powers, and Billy feels like it’s his responsibility to lead his family. 

The family, dubbed the Philadelphia Fiascos by the media, faces its first big threat against the Daughters of Atlas. The Daughters confront the Fiascos to steal the seed of life, which has the ability to restore the kingdom of their father, Atlas. One of the Daughters then goes rogue and tries to plant the seed on Earth, which would destroy the planet. 

This is a pretty serious threat for a group of foster kids with new superpowers, but the kids are able to hold their own. 

The film unfolds as a story of the two families: the Fiascos and the Daughters. Both are seeking justice and want the best for their people. The families’ motivations parallel each other to emphasize the film’s family core. 

Early on in the movie, Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer) of the Fiascos and Anthea (Rachel Zegler) of the Daughters form a connection through a shared family experience. They both feel a compassion to help people, but they sometimes find it difficult with their overbearing older siblings. 

Their families aren’t as similar as they make it seem, though.

What makes Billy’s foster family unique as a superhero team is that it isn’t a well-oiled, coordinated machine that audiences have come to expect from the likes of the Justice League. After all, they’re a group of foster kids, the youngest of whom is in middle school. 

Instead, the love the family members maintain for one another separates themselves from other superhero storylines. Consistently, the Fiascos prioritize each other’s safety rather than the mission. This love for one another helps the audience invest in the superfamily and expands upon the previously established message of family in the first film. Now that Billy has his foster family, viewers can see what that family actually means to him. 

On the other hand, the Daughters are a literal family, seemingly helping them achieve their goals at first. The master plan of the group is clear, and they know how to work together to best the Philadelphia Fiascos. 

Their success doesn’t last once it’s clear the Daughters don’t love each other the way a family should. 

The Daughters are solely focused on restoring the kingdom of Atlas. They are willing to destroy whoever is in their way of planting the seed of life—even if they are one of the Daughters themselves. 

Billy’s family runs deeper than just its bond in foster care because it proves to truly care about one another. 

When Freddy is in danger, the Fiascos drop everything to save him. When they’re at their weakest, the Fiascos still put themselves before their foster parents. Even Billy’s reluctant support of his sister’s college endeavors is a show of his love for her, and that’s why he has to let her go. It’s the type of family that Anthea is searching for, and one that she’s more than welcome to join by the end of the film. 

Throughout the standard action sequences, sometimes funny jokes, and daunting high stakes, the film’s Fiasco Family shines through. Fury of the Gods is a breath of fresh air in the superhero genre, and maintains the Shazam! franchise’s warm, wholesome niche in the DC Extended Universe. 

March 19, 2023