Shazam! Fury of the Gods reviews are in – and while they're generally positive, most critics agree that the heart that made the first Shazam! movie so special is missing from its follow-up.
The film sees the return of Zachary Levi as the titular superhero, while Jack Dylan Grazer is back as his foster brother Freddy Freeman, along with the rest of the Shazamily returning to their roles. Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu join the franchise as villains Hespera and Kalypso, with West Wide Story's Rachel Zegler also debuting in the sequel.
Our Total Film reviewer James Mottram argues that "when Shazam! arrived in 2019, its lively tale of a foster kid bestowed with superpowers brought a breath of minty-fresh air to the DCEU. If only that were the case for Shazam! Fury of the Gods, a troubled and tiresome follow-up. Of course, second time round it was always going to be tough to maintain the novelty of Zachary Levi playing Shazam, the caped alter ego of teenager Billy Batson (Asher Angel). But the bigger issue is returning director David F. Sandberg's struggle to move the story on."
See more from our review, as well as a selection of other reviews, below to get a feel for how Shazam 2 stacks up against its predecessor – and don't worry, the following is completely spoiler free.
Total Film – 2/5 – James Mottram
"True, it's great to see Mirren in a comic-book movie and Liu is an actor who always lights up the big screen. Zegler is also a fine addition. There is also the occasional comic delight (like Djimon Hounsou's returning wizard, appearing in a dream, in an unexpected new guise) but the innocence that made the first film so watchable is absent. With the story lacking real jeopardy, the feeling this leaves isn't quite fury, but it's certainly apathy."
The Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab) – Frank Scheck
"2019's Shazam! delivered a charming origin story of the DC Comics character Billy Batson, a teenage boy who meets a wizard who bestows on him the ability to become a grown-up superhero upon uttering the magic word. Now, Billy is back, along with his foster siblings, who have similar superhuman alter-egos, in the sequel Shazam! Fury of the Gods. But like some children who aren't so cute anymore after they've grown up a little, this follow-up lacks much of the appeal of its predecessor. While the film provides the elaborate action set pieces, colorful villains and save-the-world plot mechanics expected of the comic book movie genre, some of the magic is missing."
Variety (opens in new tab) – Owen Gleiberman
"Fury of the Gods is one of those superhero sequels that goes through the paces, presenting us with a story that’s meticulously convoluted and weightless, only to ratchet up the CGI, as if that were the film's way of testifying to its Major Popcorn Movieness. Plenty of comic-book sequels do that, of course, but the first Shazam! was a special case. It had a breezy screw-loose charm that felt not so much superhuman as good old human. It somehow sidestepped the digitally tooled blockbuster cynicism, but Fury of the Gods falls right into it. The film isn't terrible, but it's busy, formulaic and rather joyless. The Shazam! saga has been given an expensive haircut, but it's lost a lot of its flavor in the process."
The Guardian (opens in new tab) – 3/5 – Peter Bradshaw
"The first Shazam movie from 2019 was praised for its lighter, brighter worldview, its Gen-Z brio and for being generally unencumbered by the portentous and spurious gloom of earlier DC films. This is true of this sequel too, only it's hard not to notice that it could simply be fitting into another boilerplate model (there's a cheeky gag about The Avengers). A group of superheroes, all with cartoony character traits and a sprinkling of funny lines, wind up battling an intergalactic invasive menace, culminating in the usual spectacular but unserious CGI urban apocalypse, with people saying things like: 'This ends tonight!'"
The Independent (opens in new tab) – 2/5 – Clarisse Loughrey
"What a difference four years make. Shazam!’s sequel, Fury of the Gods, has now been sent out, defenceless, into DC’s cinematic no man’s land. The film marks one of the last breaths of an old regime at the studio, which is now under the control of Peter Safran and Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn. Their universe will presumably dispense with the dishevelled approach to tone and continuity that characterised the tenure of their predecessor Walter Hamada. His DCU could never decide whether it wanted to emulate Marvel or do the total opposite, so you’d get films embodying the very best (The Suicide Squad) and the very worst (Suicide Squad) of recent comic book fare. Fury of the Gods lands in the frustrating middle: a film that isn’t without promise, but feels far too messy and corporatised to have any real affection for."
IGN (opens in new tab) – 7/10 – Tom Jorgensen
"Shazam! Fury of the Gods is a breezy, often funny second outing for Billy Batson and his family of young heroes. Each of the villainous Atlassian Daughters bring something unique to the screen (to the plot's mixed benefit) and Helen Mirren's performance stands out, but it's disappointing that the distinctive heart of the first film takes a back seat to that expanded scope. The lack of focus on its lead character works against Fury of the Gods throughout, but it's a testament to the strong foundation this movie's built on that the assembled ensemble is able to share some of that burden."
IndieWire (opens in new tab) – B- – Kate Erbland
"All that superhero stuff, all those played-out problems (the universe?? again??), all those tropes recede when Sandberg's film (written by Henry Gayden and Chris Morgan) taps back into the special bubble that is Shazam. Superhero movies don't have to be dark or dismal or just for adults, they can be colorful and silly and funny for the whole family! These are not at all original ideas, but when Shazam! Fury of the Gods is doing them well, the film is a sterling reminder of how truly wide the genre can be, and how increasingly narrow it feels."
Shazam! 2 is in theaters this March 17. See our guide to all the upcoming DC movies and TV shows for everything else coming soon from the DCU.