For a film division that has had mixed success with its big-screen adaptations of its stable of heroes – for every Wonder Woman, there has been a Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – this more lighthearted approach works well, especially with a figure so potentially ridiculous as Shazam, whose name a wise-cracking Batson sniggers at initially.
Naturally, Billy/Shazam has a super-villain (Mark Strong) on the loose to contend with, not to mention the demonic Seven Deadly Sins, but that showdown actually feels more like a sideline distraction, with Billy’s personal story taking centre stage. Separated from his mother as a child before bouncing from one foster home to another while he searched for his mum, Billy’s quest to belong and to find his family is what gives Shazam! the emotional depth often lacking from superhero films. (Out now) 3.5 stars