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Zachary Levi Has a New Theory About Why 'Shazam 2' Failed

By Dustin Rowles | Film | July 27, 2023 |

By Dustin Rowles | Film | July 27, 2023 |


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2019’s Shazam seemed to come out at just the right moment. The DC Universe had moved past the Snyderverse, and was riding high on the jubilant entries Wonder Woman and Aquaman. Shazam was a decent movie with a fun Big vibe that succeeded almost in spite of its lead, Zachary Levi. The DC Era of good feeling, alas, did not last very long: Wonder Woman 1984 ended the era of good feeling, while Birds of Prey and James Gunn’s Suicide Squad ushered in a new era.

Four years and a pandemic later, superhero fatigue had fully set in. While audiences still craved vibrant, original, inspired superhero films like Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, their mood toward mediocre sequels had decidedly soured. Meanwhile, DC was in the midst of a brand reboot, and the relics of the old era — Black Adam, Shazam 2, The Flash — essentially felt dated before they’d even been released.

It did not help either that Zachary Levi was still the face of the Shazam franchise. While viewers might have been able to look past that with an inspired, exuberant entry, the combination of Levi and mediocrity resulted in the box-office failure of Shazam 2. Levi’s sweaty, cringy desperation did not help.

Instead of walking the picket lines, Levi is still out there ruminating on the failure of Shazam! Fury of the Gods on The FilmUp Podcast (via THR). He’s complaining about the critical reception (which was considerably lower than the audience reception on Rotten Tomatoes), and he’s spun a theory that isn’t necessarily wrong:

I think even just the world, from the first movie to the second movie, the world has shifted so much. Social media has shifted so much. Hate, online hate and haters and trolls, and factions and all that has just gotten more galvanized in its toxicity. I think there are people who genuinely, unfortunately, want to destroy certain projects because they don’t like them, or they don’t like me, or they don’t like other people involved in them or whatever.

He’s not wrong, although I’d argue that most of this toxicity existed four years ago when Shazam was released. That said, social media will mobilize against projects and people it doesn’t like, and the way out of that, simply, is to make projects that people like and be a person that people do not want to destroy. The anti-vax rhetoric and the transphobia might work in the faith-based spaces, but it doesn’t fly in the superhero world, where fans seem to be either progressive or edge lords. Levi doesn’t fit into either category. He’s just a putz and not a guy for whom anyone is rooting. Fury of the Gods needed to be a lot better than it was to overcome that.