On Nov. 9, Warner Premiere once again mesmerized us with yet another brilliant animated release with the highly-anticipated “DC Showcase Original Shorts Collection.” This outstanding compilation also includes expanded versions of the first three DC Showcase animated shorts: “DC Showcase: The Spectre,” “DC Showcase: Jonah Hex” and “DC Showcase: Green Arrow.”
For this article, I will review the lone original short, “Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam,” from the collection. In this short film (22 minutes), they definitely followed in the tradition of their previous animated features, by giving the fans everything they want and love: spectacular art, more action and great voice talents.
*some spoilers ahead *
The film does not waste time getting to the action. Within minutes, the character of Black Adam — voiced by Arnold Vosloo — unexpectedly appears to wreak havoc in young Billy Batson’s (Zach Callison) world. Luckily, the kind but helpless youth has a friend in Clark Kent, so when Billy is suddenly attacked by Black Adam, Superman comes to his rescue. But, other arrangements had already been set in motion for Billy and on this day he would be chosen by the great wizard Shazam to become Captain Marvel.
All these characters and plots blended into an amazing array of action and laughs. The spectacular fights for me were the city-wide battles between Superman and Captain Marvel against Black Adam. These fights comprise a great deal of the movie and are worth the price of admission.
The art for these DC animated movies keeps getting better and better and is just plain impressive. I have found that many of my friends felt this was the best Superman look yet, and I must admit he did look different than the other previous films. I don’t think I feel it is his best artistic interpretation, but his style, movement and flow were my favorite. He looked super and he acted super. Unfortunately, he was up against his other weakness: magic. So, he was kind of outmatched, until he learns his strengths are Black Adam’s weaknesses. But in this story, it is not Superman’s place to defeat Black Adam — it is Captain Marvel who will need to overcome the powerful being.
What an outstanding story, or shall we say origin story, this short film makes. They quickly introduce to us the boy that becomes the marvel, and they get straight to what he can do. Many large, big-budget films can learn from this small masterpiece. This is the way to get the fans excited and create new fans. The boy selected to become Captain Marvel has a big heart. He stands up for what is fair and good. And although he might have been feeling he was always down on his luck, he never strayed from doing good. This is such a great message to younger audiences. But once he becomes the Shazam-powered superhero, it’s all about fun and discovery. It’s about us discovering his powers with him. We are taken through his journey and we learn the answers to his questions together. This is what makes this short film so special and valuable to me.
In conclusion, all I can say is that I wished the movie had been longer. I guess I have already been spoiled by the previous line of DC full-length feature films and this 22 minute presentation only left me wanting more.
“DC Showcase: Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam” is already out, so run off an watch it and then come back to review it here. I would love to know all of your opinions.
. . .
Follow Josue Sanchez on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Josue_can.