Stray Takes: ‘Shazam!’

And now, a series of Shazam! stray takes:


Billy Batson’s a solid name, but what’s up with superhero alliteration? Peter Parker, Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Wonder Woman, Martin Manhunter, etc. etc. etc. ad infinitum. Is it a way to match the cartoonishness of the funny pages they were originally printed on? Or are alliterative monikers simply more memorable? Or, or, does the double-emphasis reemphasize their bearer’s superheriority?


To continue the pedanticism, if the unavoidable sequel expounds upon the ending’s new-Jumanji-esque glow-up, it could delve into the thorny issues surrounding Billy’s decision to share his abilities. Is it a true democratization of (super)power, or an attempt to reshape his family in his own image? Can you grant power AND remain equal to the inheritors you’ve bequeathed it to? Could Prometheus ever be one of us? Just a slob like one of us?


Sorry Billy boy, but Philadelphia already has a cinematic caped crusader (referenced — or, in the parlance of my earlier phrasing — “wink-winked” at herein).


Speaking of self-referential references (just go with it): the Big-ness of the premise also gets a clever piano nod.


One more noteworthy allusion: the last shot’s a pretty clever troll of the genre’s crossover cameo obsession. And then the post-credits Aquaman troll! Ain’t nothing wrong with goodnatured trolling.


Djimon Hounsou’s 2019– from the duration of his screen-time to the level of craftsmanship called for — has done him dirty. SerenityCaptain Marvel, Shazam! = Yeesh.


Speaking of wasted actors: for Mark Strong to be held in the esteem that his View from the Bridgesized talent deserves, he’ll need a silver-screen role of equal magnitude, because theatre-fame seldom transcends the geographic-limitations intrinsic to the form. Look at the chasm of difference in mass name-recognition between Simon Russell Beale and Gandolph Ian McKellen, despite being peers on the English stage. More proof: after a lifetime’s worth of worthy work, Mark Rylance’s global stock happened to skyrocket after Steven Spielberg got his hands cameras on him.


Has Bohemian Rhapsody ushered in an era that will be defined by an overuse of Queen songs? Keep cashing those royalties, boys!

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