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Shazam! Battles Biblical Sins

Source: IMDb

While this umpteenth superhero movie follows most of the genre’s rules, it also breaks away from some. It’s light-hearted, charming and filled with humorous moments, with many critics referring to it as Big meets Superman. And understandably so, as it’s about a troubled, and somewhat lost teenager who receives the gift of being able to transform into an adult superhero. In many relatable good vs evil scenarios, the Marvel character tackles all manner of sins and saves the day in his own unique, heroic way. This, again, has prompted movie analysts to raise the question, do these superhero films highlight religious topics, and can they also bring about a revival of the Biblical film genre?

Superheroes and Religious Symbolism

Whether religious or not, we can all identify with the Seven Deadly Sins, enumerated in Christianity, on some level or another. In the movie, Shazam!, these Seven Sins or Enemies of Man (Pride, Envy, Lust, Sloth, Gluttony, Greed, and Wrath) are portrayed as monsters that take on both a physical and spiritual form. This not only makes for brilliant visual effects but also echoes the tangible and inner battles we as humans face regarding our experiences with these sins – irrespective of whether we succumb to them, or triumph over them. Many superhero movies, along with other genres like the iconic thriller, Seven, focus only on the actions of these sins. But Shazam! identifies them also as personal dispositions or attitudes, which possess your soul, as is clearly visible in the villain, Sivana’s character. The only way to drive out these vices? Following a trifecta of ancient Christian avenues – seeking wise advice, possessing a heart that’s pure and having support from caring individuals.

Is it a Human Condition Longing for a Saviour?

If there is one thing that all superhero movies and most religions highlight, it’s the need for someone (or something) to protect us from dangerous forces – from small personal threats to massive apocalyptic events. Another common thread is that many of these superheroes start off as mere mortals, as is evident in Shazam! In Biblical reference, the Christian saviour, Jesus, also joined humanity in human form on earth. Again, one can draw a parallel between the superhero genre and religion. The idea that those who can save humanity were once ordinary people, makes them incredibly relatable – one could argue that this is in fact the secret behind Marvel’s massive fan following. But has the rise of the superhero film phenomenon played a part in the revival of the Biblical film genre? By the looks of recent silver screen releases, one would have to say, likely so.

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