I watched Shazam! last weekend Sunday, and I love it! Please ignore those who want to compare DC vs. Marvel movies or whatever know-it-all ‘fans’ who say you should watch this or that or this is not good or this is better… just ignore them. Shazam! is a very energetic and emotional movie. Actually, the development of Shazam! film began in the early 2000s but was delayed for many years. The film went into pre-production in 2008 with Dwayne Johnson (“The Rock”) considered to star as the villain Black Adam, but the project fell through. Sad, but let’s see if Black Adam ever appear in Shazam! next movie or have its own solo movie, Black Adam. Excited! Whatever happened to Black Adam, this is for sure: In February 2017, David F. Sandberg signed on to direct Shazam! and make it happened. Zachary Levi was cast as kid-man-superhero, SHAZAM, who have the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power from Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury.
I like the way Levi plays the character Shazam (formerly known as Captain Marvel, long story…). Because Shazam is actually a boy named William Joseph “Billy” Batson, he thinks and acts like a boy but physically he is a man. The essence of childishness in the character makes it so fun to watch. Love it! On my way back from the cinema, I contemplate what I’ve learned from this movie. One word came to mind – manhood. Let me explain:
#1 Every Man Wants to Know Where He Is Coming From. Billy Batson is a troublesome kid. In the early part of the movie, Billy is arrested by the police after he lures and traps the officers to assist in his search for his mother. Ms. Glover, the childcare officer told Billy, “You’ve run from foster homes in six counties.” “I can take care of myself,” replied Billy. “Yes… when you’re eighteen,” Ms. Glover rolled her eyes. She looked at the couple outside and said, “Give these people a chance, because that’s what they’re giving you.” Why Billy falls into such a mess? Because he wanted to know where his mother is. He is looking for his real mother, imagining that his mother also looking for him. He wanted to know what happened during the day he separated from his mother. He wanted to know where he is coming from. Terry Pratchett, author of I Shall Wear Midnight, observes: “It is important that we know where we come from, because if you do not know where you come from, then you don't know where you are, and if you don't know where you are, you don't know where you're going. And if you don't know where you're going, you're probably going wrong.” If a man knows where he is coming from, he can: 1) Accept his past and move on; 2) Change what needs to be changed, and 3) Take Responsibility for who he is becoming.
#2 Every Man Needs to Know That He Is Loved. When Billy's step-siblings realize that he is Shazam and told him that they found his mother, Billy runs from home and meets his mother. This scene is very emotional (I almost cry). When he finally met his mother, she told him that she purposely abandoned him because she could not take care of him (a single parent) as well as the police could. Sad. But thanks to a lovely couple, Victor and Rosa Vasquez, who can answer that question – Am I loved? – to Billy when he needed it the most. The Vasquez couple accepts Billy as their own, as he is and love him. What’s amazing is that Billy not only have new parents who care for him but he also found a new family. Joel Osteen, speaks to men (as well as women) when he says, “No matter what storm you face, you need to know that God loves you.” You may not have a lovely parent(s) or great siblings, you need to know that – no matter what – God loves you.
#3 Every Man Must Stand Up Against Bullies. Billy has a good brother and friend, do you remember how they meet? Rosa Vasquez introduces Billy to Freddy Freeman, “This is Billy Batson. Make sure you make him feel at home.” Then as both of them entered the room, Freddy told Billy, “They seem nice [Pause]. But don’t buy it. It gets a real Game of Thrones around here.” Billy looks worried. Freddy chuckled, funny scene, “Dude, just messing around. You look at me and you’re like, ‘Why so dark? You’re a disabled foster kid. You’ve got it all.’” Funny! One day, Freddy gets beaten by a bully at school. As they pushed him, they said, “What, you need your fake family to stand up for you???” That question or statement triggered Billy. “Hey,” Billy called them and used Freddy’s walking crutch to hit the boys. “Man, sorry about that.” And then he runs away. Billy doesn’t need a superpower to stand against bullies. He knows that bully is bullshit! When Shazam fight against Dr. Sivana, that villiant-bullies, his siblings stand beside him. Nick Vujicic, the author of Stand Strong, writes, “I encourage you to develop empathy for others like the Good Samaritan showed. Please do everything you can to protect others from emotional and physical harm caused by bullies… Stand together so no one will stand alone!” As a man, you need to stand against bullies. Don’t run away, fight! Don’t close your eyes, take action! And don’t do it alone, call others too, protect!
#4 Every Man Hunger for Encouragement and Love Ones to Believe In Him. Since young Thaddeus Sivana hungers for his father’s affection and brother’s recognition. When he was magically transported to the Rock of Eternity, he fell into one of the Seven Deadly Sins temptations when he touches the Eye of Envy (his weakness). For years, Dr. Sivana tries to prove that he is worthy but like most villains-to-be, it became his obsession and causes the death of many lives including his own father and brother. I wonder, what if his father shows his love for young Sivana? What if the brother, instead of being annoying, be supportive to his little brother? Now, men, ask these two questions to yourself. Readers (parents, spouse, friends, co-workers, bosses), do you see the importance of encouragements and believe in someone? Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Men often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it even If I didn't have it in the beginning.” Equally important for men is when others – especially their loved ones – believe in them. After running away from the bullies and getting on a train, Billy hears a voice, “I choose you as champion.” That’s the statement that every man hunger to hear… “I… Choose… You… As… Champion.”
#5 Every Man Requires Mentor(s) to Teach Him How To Be a Man. Obviously, Billy lacks a father figure. Everyone - regardless of culture, race, and ethnicity - understand that the role of the father or father figure is critically important to the task of taking young boys from boyhood into manhood. Billy, a foster kid, is fatherless. How about The Wizard? Well... The Wizard is like an instant-noodle father figure. Instead of taking the time to mentor him to be a man, The Wizard just transformed Billy instantly to be a grown up with god-like abilities. “Say my name so that my powers may flow through you,” instructs The Wizard to Billy. “But I don’t know your name, sir,” he replied. “Shazam.” Billy turned from fear to amuse, “Are you for real?” He chuckled. The Wizard commanded, “Say it!” “Okay! Sh... Shazam?!” Done! You see, The Wizard doesn’t teach him how to fight, how to fly or how to use his potentials. That’s up to himself (the wisdom of Solomon helps). Only with the help of his brother, Freddy, that he slowly discovers his strengths. “What are your superpowers?” asked Freddy curiously. The grown-up Billy explained, “Superpowers? Dude, I don’t even know how to pee in this thing!” And then, they do some tests and experiments. I’m glad that at the end of the movie, Superman (teasing) appeared. Perhaps Superman can guide, mentor and help Shazam to explore his potentials and to use his power to do good. After all, in the inside, Shazam is a kid. Although The Wizard said that Billy has “a pure heart,” he still needs an experienced and good mentor(s) like Superman, the Man of Steel. Conrado I. Generoso puts it this way: “No man is capable of self-improvement if he sees no other model but himself.”
#6 Every Man Should Empower Others to Be Superhero Too. In the fight against Dr. Sivana at a carnival, Shazam uses The Wizard’s staff to give power to his siblings, causing them to also become adult superheroes with powers. Each member of The Shazam Family fight against each of the seven spirits of the Deadly Sins. At the end [cliché], they manage to defeat the enemies and all of them are considered superheroes in the city. That’s a good ending... not only Billy, but all of his siblings are heroes too! One powerful man can only do so much. If he empowered others, he can do much more. In my opinion, the greatest legacy a man can have under his influence is to empower others to be better than himself.
#7 Every Man Dreams Is to Be Part of Something Bigger than Himself. One of the biggest lessons I learned from this movie is this: All of us [men, especially] are capable and have potential to do great things in the world, all we need is a little ‘magic.’ What ‘magic’ do we men really need? For Billy, the word is, “Shazam!” For us? It’s not as easy as that. What man need is to do this one thing, a ‘magic’ word, namely, “SERVE” and do it often. To serve others is to do something bigger than ourselves. A man does not become whole until he becomes a part of something bigger than himself. “It was men who stopped slavery. It was men who ran up the stairs in the Twin Towers to rescue people. It was men who gave up their seats on the lifeboats of the Titanic,” writes John Eldredge, author of Wild At Heart, “Men are made to take risks and live passionately on behalf of others.” If you’re Christ follower, you don’t need the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power from Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury to serve others. You have something greater... the Spirit of God is within you! (refer to Romans 8:9).
Men, imagine, a Voice says this to you: “[Your name], I choose you as champion.”
What you’re going to do?
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.