Review: DC Spotlight: Shazam! (2019)

Review: DC Spotlight: Shazam!

 

[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]

Executive producers: Brett Levisohn, Steven C. Smith & Jamie Iracleanos

Writer: Steven C. Smith

Narrated by: Cooper Andrews

 

Reviewed by: Sean Blumenshine

 

 

Summary

Discover the unbelievable history behind the iconic, magical and influential superhero who is really just a kid at heart…SHAZAM! This DC Spotlight features interviews with the people who helped The World’s Mightest Mortal evolve from comic book hero to pop culture icon.

Positives

The thing that is immediately cool about this documentary is the fact that it exists. I’ve always enjoyed the documentaries that were included on the DVDs of DC projects such as the Green Arrow documentary that is on one of the Smallville box sets. But they were always too short with an average run time of 20 to 30 minutes. This one is an hour long and that’s great. There’s a lot more detail in this than I expected.

It’s a nicely informative piece. I knew the broad strokes of the character’s origins at Fawcett Comics, the lawsuit from DC and the eventual acquisition of the Marvel Family. But there’s a little more to it than I thought and I loved the opportunity to learn more about this character.

Shazam, or Captain Marvel if you want to be pedantic, is a bit of a blind spot for me in terms of fandom. I really enjoyed the recent film and I think the old serial is the best of the superhero ones. But I’ve never read a Shazam comic. I’ve read stories that feature him in team up scenarios or event comics. This documentary is a terrific starter pack for the character. They go through a lot of different incarnations and story lines that give viewers a good sense of books they can read. One of the reasons people don’t get into comics is the intimidation of the continuity and history. This helps tremendously with that.

I watch a comic reviewer on YouTube and my favorite videos of his are the history retrospectives he did of Teen Titans, Blue Beetle and Cassandra Cain. I’ve been hoping DC could do something similar in a more official way. The documentary did that for me; it gave me recommendations. I definitely want to read Jerry Ordway’s Power of Shazam book now. And in a brilliant move of corporate synergy, that book was added to DC Universe this month so I can add it to my reading list.

Cooper Andrews, who plays Billy Baston’s foster father in the movie, is a terrific narrator. He’s so energetic and invested in the story he’s telling. It almost reminds of the way Stan Lee would narrate old Marvel cartoons. His tone really gives the documentary a great pace.

 

Negatives

My only real negative is my general complaint with DC Universe which is how it’s sold. I don’t think DC does enough to promote this app. It’s a great service with horrible marketing. I had no idea this documentary was a thing until today. The only trailer is one websites such as newsarama posted but the trailer is an unlisted video on a Warner Bros. YouTube channel and it’s not a very good one. The documentary is featured in DC’s August picks of the month video but it’s only featured for 10 seconds of the video and that really only serves people that are already subscribers. This, combined with the Shazam comics they added, could be a selling point for the app but you have to do your own research.

The only aspect of the app that gets any real promotion are the original series. I see constant ads for Titans, Doom Patrol and Swamp Thing. I want that kind of effort for some of the other content such as this or the comics. Those shows are too niche due to the R rated material; promoting the other content could bring people in that are put off by the edgier tones of the those shows.

 

Verdict

I loved this documentary. There’s a passion to it from the narration, the interviewees and the general presentation. It loves this character and it makes the viewer love the character due to its enthusiasm. I think it could be a great jumping on point for people looking for Shazam comics to read. It’s informative and a lot of fun. I hope DC Universe does a lot more of these because this a great addition to their content.

 

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Sean Blumenshine

I am currently a senior at Wichita State University studying communications. I started reading comics in 2013 because of how much I loved Man of Steel and season one of Arrow. My favorite hero is the Green Arrow and my favorite villain is the Joker.