DC's luck simply hasn't been on its side as of late. The studios' latest string of films have not been received well, with the likes of both Wonder Woman 1984 and Black Adam missing the mark for many viewers.
Teth-Adam's debut was even a financial disappointment, despite all the hyping that Dwayne Johnson tried to build for it.
However, when the first reactions to Shazam 2 landed, they were positive across the board. It all painted the picture that the film isn't anything groundbreaking, but there was still plenty to enjoy.
Well, it looks like all that praise might have been a tad misleading.
Shazam 2's Rotten Fury with Critics
UPDATE (March 17, 2023): Shazam! Fury of the Gods now sits at a 53% critic approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes after 143 certified reviews
For comparison, the first film sits at 90%, while Dwayne Johnson's recent Black Adam is at 39%.
AV Club claimed that the new movie feels like "a frustrating case of sequel overreach:"
"That leaves 'Fury Of The Gods' feeling like a frustrating case of sequel overreach after its more focused, emotionally satisfying, crowd-pleasing predecessor. It’s not outright terrible, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that we all could have had so much more fun."
According to The Playlist, the sequel isn't bad, but when it comes to this new film, "the magic has fizzled:"
"The first film was a real win for the DCEU and brought something unique to the table, even appealing to many from outside the fan base. All the ingredients are here, but it just doesn’t come together in quite the same way. 'Shazam! Fury of the Gods' is not bad, but it can’t hold a powerful staff to its predecessor. Every franchise has its blips, but the magic has fizzled here. Lightning hasn’t struck twice, and it’s a real shame."
Digital Spy not so subtly stated that most of the movie isn't worth watching but that there's at least one plotline that's notably good:
"Within 'Shazam! Fury of the Gods' is an enjoyable, earnest buddy-comedy starring Jack Dylan Grazer and Djimon Hounsou. Unfortunately, you have to watch the rest of 'Shazam! Fury of the Gods' to see it."
The Wrap didn't hold back, labeling the sequel as "perfunctory and soulless:"
"When 'Shazam! Fury of the Gods' tries to look like a big blockbuster action movie it comes across as perfunctory and soulless. The fury signifies nothing. The heart is where this movie’s home is."
The Hollywood Reporter admitted that there are "elaborate action pieces" and "colorful villains," but the "follow-up lacks much of the appeal of its predecessor:"
"This follow-up lacks much of the appeal of its predecessor. While the film provides the elaborate action set pieces, colorful villains and save-the-world plot mechanics expected of the comic book movie genre, some of the magic is missing."
DCU Hits Hard Times with Shazam 2
It's just not going well for superhero movies as of late.
With the reception to Shazam 2 being as poor as it is, it's hard to imagine that either James Gunn or Peter Safran will be looking to give Shazam and his world all too much priority for their upcoming reboot. There's also a very good chance that this sequel is the final time fans will see Zachary Levi's titular character—assuming Billy Batson himself isn't put on ice.
The situation doesn't sound like it will go away, either, as strong rumors have hit the web that claim Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is a notably bad film. Terrible enough, in fact, that it could be a factor in Jason Momoa supposedly leaving his aquatic role going forward.
As for the other Warner Bros. other two DCU projects this year, those remain a mystery. Not much is known about Blue Beetle and its quality, but when it comes to The Flash, whispers indicate that the studio is very confident in the film.
Hopefully, that confidence is warranted. Fans are surely hoping to have at least one win this year.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods is now playing in theaters worldwide.