Lightness is not usually a word used to describe most movies coming out of the DC Extended Universe over the last ten years, but finally here’s one that so light it soars through the air. Taking a page out classic body-swapping comedy films like Big, and 13 Going on 30, Shazam! is a charming spin on superhero wish fulfillment for a 2019 audience.

When we meet our teenage protagonist Billy Batson (Asher Angel) he’s on the quest to find his mother who he’s been separated from for over eight years. A street-smart kid who has run away from numerous foster families, he is given what seems like the last chance with a new foster family in Philadelphia. We’re introduced to the welcoming Vasquez family (Marta Milans and Cooper Andrews) and their quirky brood of foster kids.  Among them is Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer, IT), an expert on everything superheroes (the film is firmly established in the DCU where Supes and Bats are real-life crime fighters).

Billy makes an effort not to fit in at his new school quickly making enemies with the resident bullies after reluctantly sticking up for Freddy outside of school. When running away from the teenage thugs Billy accidentally ends up calling on a mysterious wizard named “Shazam” (Djimon Hounsou) who gives him the power to transform into a superhero, but only after Billy promises him to only use his powers for good. And POW! By shouting the name SHAZAM, Billy is transformed into his best possible self – a handsome superhero (Zachary Levi).  After Billy realizes he can transform, he and Freddy soon start to explore the endless possibilities of having these superpowers. But, soon the supervillain Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong) enters the scene and tries to get his hands on Shazam’s magical abilities. With the help of Freddy, and the rest of his new foster siblings will Billy/Shazam save the day?

At its heart Shazam! is an incredibly endearing take on the genre — many thanks to the slickness of Zachary Levi’s fish out of water performance.  In a post-Avengers world, superhero movies can be anything they want to be – political thrillers (Captain America: Winter Solder, Watchmen), heists (Ant-Man), period pieces (Wonder Woman).  As long as you blow up a few city blocks at the end, you’ve got money in the bank.  But this property almost has the cards stacked against it.  You’ve got a body swap comedy, a title that sounds like a 70’s pimp and a hero suit that looks like a day player on Flash Gordon.  The ace in the hole is that the filmmakers clearly understand the movie they are making.  From poking fun at Shazam’s supersuit before the audience gets in their jabs to a sly nod to Big, these little touches help endear you to a movie that at first glance could come off as childish – especially in the previously dark and moody DCU.

The story pulls off a balancing act of action and comedy for its audience with a surprisingly involving script. It’s easy to get wrapped up in what’s going on here. You’re almost equally invested in Billy’s journey from finding his mother to him becoming a superhero. Directed with humor and heart by David F. Sandberg (Lights Out), Shazam! rises above every expectation one has when walking into the theater. Following the surprisingly good Aquaman, the upcoming redo of Suicide Squad, and the female-driven Bird’s of Prey, the DC films look to be going through a new rebooted renaissance.