Yesterday, I took advantage of a Fandango promotion that gave movie-goers an opportunity to see the new Shazam! movie a week before its official premiere date. So I spent a few dollars and next thing I know, I’m at Colonie Center, and the new Shazam! movie is on the big screen in front of me.
And after the film ended … I was furious.
Not because the movie ended.
Not because the movie followed all the superhero movie tropes.
Not because the story played very fast and loose with the mythos of Captain Marvel (yes, he’s still Captain Marvel to me, live with it). In the comics, Billy Batson transformed into Captain Marvel by saying the magic word SHAZAM – and as Captain Marvel, he was an adult superhero. In this movie, the superhero still acts like a kid – almost as if the role could have been played by Tom Hanks if he never made another film after Big.
But the big issue is because of what was considered Billy Batson’s backstory.
In the comics, Billy Batson was an orphan. In this movie, he’s an abandoned kid who got separated from his mother at a county fair, and spent his teen years searching for her and hoping for a reunion.
Partway through the film, inbetween fighting the bad guys and making a big goof of himself – well, when you’re the Big Red Cheese, this can happen, amirite – Batson finds out that his mother is still alive. He goes to her apartment and hopes for a reunion. But the mother rejects Billy, saying that although she was upset when he got lost at the county fair, once she saw that he was safely under the care of a nearby policeman, she slipped away.
And through that scene, she made some pronouncements about how she was only 17 when Billy was conceived, she wasn’t prepared for motherhood, she divorced Billy’s father, she didn’t think she was a fit parent, she’s got a new life with an abusive new husband, blah blah blah…
Wait … you abandoned your kid at an amusement park and when your son finds his way back to you, you chase him away again???
Am I seeing this right?
And this is in a superhero movie that’s essentially themed as a family-based motion picture?
No. I’m sorry. But that moment in the movie was complete and utter horseshit.
Your kid gets separated from you in a crowd and you make a cursory search to find him – and when he’s in the safe hands of a police officer you immediately disappear as if you could just say, “he’s safe, I wouldn’t have been a good parent, let someone else do the job, I’m off to my own life.”
Again … total horseshit. And this kind of horseshit does not belong in this movie. For me, it actually made Billy Batson’s mother the true villain of the story – a woman who held out false hope for a son who truly loved his parents and couldn’t figure out where they were or would they ever come to find him again.
Look, I get it These are superhero fantasy movies. And many of these superheroes are driven by the deaths of parents or elders or loved ones. Thomas and Martha Wayne. Ben Parker. Gwen Stacy. Their deaths have guided heroes to fight for good and for humanity.
But a mother that tells her son that he was better off without her … that is just straight up cold.
And that just ruined the movie for me. Ruined it completely.
Forget this. I’ll go back to watching the Marvel Cinematic Universe for my superhero fixes. Heck, I’ll even spend a few dollars for the upcoming Valiant Cinematic Universe – because if I can get a movie series with Archer & Armstrong, Harbinger, and Magnus Robot Fighter, that would be sweet.
But what they did with Billy Batson’s mother in the Shazam! film – was just unbelievably rancid.
Oh yeah … spoiler alert. This film isn’t worth your movie dollar. Not with scenes like that in the film.