From the family being a loving foster family, a dynamic not often focused on in media about the foster system, to Freddie needing a crutch but that not being his only — or even most prominent — character trait, Shazam! highlighted various underrepresented groups in healthy and non-toxic ways.
With Shazam 2 on the horizon and just a few weeks away, fans can get excited to see more of these representative stories in theaters soon. Not only will the film continue the family dynamics introduced in its predecessor, but also it will introduce another piece of representation, which was hinted at in the 2019 movie.
More Representation in Shazam 2
In an interview with Dorkaholics, Shazam! Fury of the Gods screenwriters Henry Gayden and Chris Morgan opened up about how the sequel will directly discuss Pedro Peña, Billy Batson (Shazam)'s foster brother, being gay.
Gayden explained that while this aspect of Pedro's character was hinted at briefly in the first Shazam! film, he "really, really fought for us including that and bringing that to the fore in this movie:"
"The only new addition for this movie is being a lot more forthright about Pedro being gay. And that was hinted at in the first movie very subtly. And I thought it was really important and really, really fought for us including that and bringing that to the fore in this movie."
The moment from the first film referenced is when the Shazam kids are transported into a strip club, and Pedro remarks that it's "not [his] thing." Based on what Gayden said, however, it seems that the March sequel will address this directly.
The pair also discussed how a focus on the Shazam family itself, as well as Billy's learning to "operate in a world where he actually has a family" will be crucial to the film's plot, as well as its villains.
"We figured out from the very beginning that it was about 'how does Billy operate in a world where he actually has a family’'and use that as the internal conflict emotionally and then how do you externally best dramatize that story as he comes up against something that challenges that. And in particular these villains, I think are kind of a dark reflection of three people who also lost family in their life and don’t feel that he deserves what he has now, which threatens everything."
This story has the benefit of "the teenage mindset and humor" that Morgan deems one of Gayden's strengths. Morgan continued, saying that "character work is definitely the cornerstone of this franchise:"
"Henry has a facility with the teenage mindset and voices and humor that I’ve never found in anybody else. I wish I could write that. I genuinely cannot so I’m kind of in awe of it. His character work is definitely the cornerstone of this franchise and it’s uniquely him."
Embracing the Shazamily's Diversity
The confirmation of Pedro's hinted-at sexuality, as well as the knowledge that this part of him will not be ignored in the March sequel, bode well for fans who appreciated the representation of the first Shazam! film.
This indicates that the already-introduced forms of representation, like the disabled representation with Freddy or the non-traditional family dynamic of the Shazamily, will continue to highlight often-ignored groups in the sequel.
Perhaps other underrepresented groups will see themselves on the big screen in Shazam 2, as it is clear the writers understand how important representation is and how much they can do to help ensure everyone is represented.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods releases in theaters on Friday, March 17.