Fresh off the billion-dollar success of Aquaman, DC Comics seems to have abandoned the solemn and somber fare that usually plagues their films in favor of a more uplifting, fan-friendly product. With Shazam!, DC continues this trend by singularly focusing on the fun of the character’s origin story rather than bogging down the viewer with unnecessary doom and gloom.

Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is a street smart, 14-year old orphan who has been shuffled around from foster home to foster home. One day, while searching for his biological mother, Billy is transported to a mystical realm where an ancient wizard bestows him with magical powers—Much like the Zoltar “Make A Wish” machine in Tom Hanks’s Big. By simply uttering the word “Shazam!”, Billy instantly transforms into a muscle-bound adult superhero. Now, with his newfound abilities, Billy has to fight the bad guy, not just puberty.

Director David F. Sandberg

Shazam! soars whenever the adult hero is on screen. Displaying a childlike innocence with Superman-like powers is no easy task, but Zachary Levi delivers a brilliant, star-making turn as Shazam. What bridges the gap between Shazam! and your average superhero film is that, we, the audience are just as invested in seeing Billy search for his long lost mom as we are in seeing Billy learn to navigate his new super powers.

From start to finish, Shazam! is the best DC film not named Wonder Woman. Let’s just hope that this is the benchmark by which we can definitively say “DC has finally found its heart” and not just an anomaly in a long list of cinematic mediocrity.

COMING SOON To Theaters:

By Scott Peterson | @CineSportsTalk