Shazam! Fury of the Gods is the inaugural DC Universe movie in 2023, and the newly released trailer is a lot of fun. Back in 2019, the first Shazam! movie revitalised the stodgy DC template with a refreshing dose of levity and humour, fusing the adventurous tone of Superman with the body-swap comedy of Tom Hanks' Big.
That principle is very much at work in the sequel. Teenager Billy Batson (Asher Angel) still possesses the ability to transform into his superhero alter-ego Shazam (Zachary Levi) by uttering the latter's name. However, returning director David F. Sandberg is broadening the canvas by introducing a contingent of ancient villains who will lend threat to the otherwise agreeable formula.
Here's what we learned from the trailer.
1. Helen Mirren is our new villain
The Shazam sequel will potentially take great relish in the clash between the flippant boy-in-a-man's-body Shazam, and the ancient, arcane Hespera. The latter is one of the daughters of the Greek god Atlas and is played in suitably imperious form by Britain's finest, Helen Mirren.
She continues the trend of British actors making the best Hollywood baddies. And Hespera's all-powerful abilities are set to make her Shazam's most dangerous villain to date. That she's teamed with Lucy Liu's equally threatening Kalypso only raises the stakes further.
2. Shazam's family is now established
At the end of the 2019 Shazam! movie, the title character founded his own superhero 'family' (no, not to be said in Vin Diesel's voice). This includes the adult superhero alter-ego of Billy's close friend Freddy, played as a teen by IT's Jack Dylan Grazer and as an adult by The OC's Adam Brody.
Elsewhere, we have Ross Butler and Ian Chen as the older and younger iterations of Eugene Choi, Billy's foster brother. There's also Meagan Good and Faithe Herman as Darla Dudley, Billy's foster sister, and Grace Fulton as both the superhero and non-superhero versions of Billy's older foster sister Mary.
Rounding things off are D. J. Cotrona and Jovan Armand who play both halves of Billy's other other foster brother, Pedro Peña.
3. Hespera uses Freddy in her schemes
The trailer is rapidly edited together but we do get a sense that the evil Hespera knows Billy's weakness: his adopted foster family. To that extent she undertakes some kind of malicious thing with Freddy on a rooftop, presumably to get Billy/Shazam to cave into her schemes. Does Hespera have the ability to prevent Freddy from 'shazaming' into his more powerful superhero self?
4. There are some pleasing retro references
Billy's Goonies t-shirt tells you everything you need to know. Director David F. Sandberg is clearly channeling the spirit of the optimistic Amblin classics from the 1980s, putting outsized emotion and humour before gloom and doom.
It was this quality that helped distinguish the first Shazam! movie from its more portentous DC Universe brethren. Fingers crossed we're about to get more of the same.
5. Djimon Hounsou gets more to do
And that's never a bad thing. The Blood Diamond actor appeared briefly in the first Shazam! movie as the ancient wizard (also named Shazam) who granted Billy his 'shazam' powers. This time, however, Honsou's character leaves the fantastical realm and enters our world to presumably dispense guidance on defeating Hespera and Kalypso.
6. We have questions about Rachel Zegler's character
The West Side Story star is credited as Anthea, another daughter of Atlas. That makes her Hespera and Kalypso's sister. If that's the case, why is Zegler wearing civilian clothes in the following shot? (You can spot her on the left of frame.)
Has she been humiliated and stripped of her powers by her sisters? The next screenshot shows her wearing armour as she stands by a screaming Freddy, which may indicate that Anthea has reclaimed her worth and once again unlocked her abilities.
Questions, questions. There's no denying that Zegler's character is the most mysterious, and therefore intriguing, in the movie.