The recent SDCC trailer releases suggest that the DCEU has found a way to make a Thor Endgame mistake work for Shazam 2 and Billy Batson.
The Shazam! Fury of the Gods trailer shows that the DCEU is making a Thor Avengers: Endgame mistake work for the character of Billy Batson. Shazam 2 appears to continue focusing on the personal arc of Billy working out how his unique powers fit into the DCEU superhero world. Indeed, the Shazam! Fury of the Gods trailer released at San Diego Comic Con suggests Shazam’s main internal struggle in the movie is something of an existential crisis brought about by his own lack of self-esteem, especially compared to how he regards the illustrious DCEU Justice League heroes. While it’s not uncommon for superheroes to have internal quandaries, this specific setup is one deeply akin to Thor’s Endgame arc – only without some of the mistakes the MCU can be seen to have made with this specific storyline.
The Endgame jokes about Thor having an existential crisis received a decidedly complicated response. This was because the idea of Thor looking and acting different being the subject of comedy was seen as mean-spirited by many, given these changes were because of how much he’d lost. The quips at Thor’s expense saw a decent level of criticism as a result, because it appeared as though his suffering and self-doubt was mainly focused on in a comedic sense rather than fully exploring what this meant for the character.
Shazam 2 also builds jokes off a similar premise – as the trailer shows Shazam explaining his problems to a therapist, only for said professional to appear confused and reveal they are a pediatrician, and don’t understand why the seemingly adult Shazam is talking to them. However, this works in the Shazam! Fury of the Gods trailer, as Billy’s existential crisis isn’t seemingly born from trauma – he’s just a teenager trying to work out where he belongs and how to build some self-esteem, who happens to also be a superhero. In this sense, Shazam struggling with who he is feels reflective of the promising future ahead of him, which makes jokes about it far less controversial than those that relied on Thor’s traumatic past and subsequent struggles.
Why Shazam 2 Couldn’t Repeat The Thor Endgame Mistake
Realistically, the DCEU couldn’t have repeated the same controversial Thor Endgame decisions with Shazam 2 even if the company had inexplicably actually tried to, as the different setups going into the two different movies change how the two respective existential crises can be received. By the point in Thor’s MCU timeline that Endgame takes place, the hero has lost pretty much everything he valued in his life – with his father and brother dead, his home destroyed, and his sense of honor demolished alongside the lives of countless people after the Snap. Though the MCU does encourage its audience not to take its plots too seriously with its generally bright comedy-rife tone, making fun of a character for losing the will to do things after experiencing a series of deeply traumatizing events is understandably something that didn’t quite sit right with many viewers – especially those who empathized with Thor’s overall MCU arc.
Comparatively, unless the Shazam 2 story is set to take a surprisingly dark turn, Billy Batson has his family, his hometown, and will likely be spurred on by his self-esteem issues and general lack of self-belief to gain a better understanding of himself, instead of it fueling some long-term suffering he is then ridiculed for. As such, no matter how many jokes are made about the existential crisis Shazam appears to be experiencing in Shazam! Fury of the Gods, none will likely ever approach the same ground the Thor Endgame jokes were seen to, preventing the movie from following in these particular footsteps. With Thor: Love and Thunder also avoiding this misstep, it seems the criticisms levied at the God of Thunder’s Endgame treatment are unlikely to be repeated for at least the immediate future, especially with the more careful efforts Phase 4 MCU installments have made when exploring mental health and mental health conditions – something the DCEU hopefully mirrors in their own approach.
- DC League of Super-Pets (2022)Release date: Jul 29, 2022
- Black Adam (2022)Release date: Oct 21, 2022
- Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2022)Release date: Dec 21, 2022
- Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023)Release date: Mar 17, 2023
- The Flash (2023)Release date: Jun 23, 2023
- Blue Beetle (2023)Release date: Aug 18, 2023
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