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Since it was announced, Shazam! has always seemed like something of an outlier in the DCEU and among comic book movies in general. The story of a kid who gets magical powers from a wizard that transform him into an adult superhero is unlike anything else out there. And judging by the recent teaser for the film, Shazam! is a fun and truly unique superhero film. Part of that uniqueness is that this movie seems to operate on a smaller scale than we're accustomed to. For Cooper Andrews, who plays Billy Batson's foster father, Victor Vasquez, that scale is what makes the film work better than some recent superhero films, as he explained:
The thing about it is that there's no massive war. There's something very grounded and real about this script, despite the fact that it's about a 15 year-old who says a magic word and turns into a superhero. There's still something very real, something that speaks to everyone, I think, on this one.
It might be strange to think of a movie with magic and superheroes as grounded, but The Walking Dead's Cooper Andrews made a great point here to Comicbook.com. Shazam! isn't some epic contest against alien invaders as we've seen recently in both the MCU and DCEU. Instead, Shazam! is a superhero movie that tells a story that everyone can relate to. Sure, it's about a kid who gets superpowers, but that glee trying out the powers we saw in the trailer is something we would all feel. There will be stakes, but they will be more personal than cosmic. That distinction can set Shazam! apart from its contemporaries and for the better.
What we don't know about Shazam! still far outweighs what we do know, but this more grounded story lines up with what we've heard about the film. Director David F. Sandberg has called it a Christmas movie that is about family and revealed that Billy Batson's mission in the film is to find his mom. While sadly none of us know what its like to shoot lightning out of our hands, the issue of family and belonging are universal and more familiar to people than the pure need to survive that we witness in the grand event films in this genre.
As superhero movies and universes mature and expand, there is a natural tendency, as Jim Gordon suspected in Batman Begins, toward escalation. Every movie has to be bigger, the villain has to be more dangerous and the stakes have to be higher. Not that there is anything wrong with that as long as it is executed properly, but when the world is at stake every time out, the threat is harder to take seriously. What Cooper Andrews said about Shazam! is refreshing because it means that we may be getting something that feels new in this movie. We've already postulated that Shazam! is the DCEU's best hope, and I think that a more grounded story lends credence to that thought.