DC’s Gay Superhero Film Bombs at the Box Office, Is Hollywood Running Out of Excuses?

The “Shazam!” sequel’s ongoing woes have virtually nothing to do with the Walt Disney Company, at least directly, but let’s start there anyhow. One of the very worst things that Disney has wrought on this country in recent years (and to be clear, that’s a long list of annoying to terrible things) is the indelible effect it has had on modern cinema. Whether it’s “humor” that feels like it needs a laugh track, ceaseless leftist indoctrination, or the creatively bankrupt way in which everything needs to be a part of a “franchise” or larger “universe,” that thing you strongly dislike about current movies can largely be traced back to the House of Mouse. And wouldn’t you know it? Disney and Marvel’s chief rival in the superhero film industry, the Warner Bros.-backed DC Comics studios, has a veritable dud on its hands and it too features mirthless humor and “woke” nonsense in a superhero sequel that nobody asked for. According to Deadline, “Shazam: Fury of the Gods” is facing a $30.5 million opening weekend, a sharp 43 percent drop from 2019’s “Shazam!” and its opening weekend tallies. The sequel also fell short of the original when it came to Friday’s box office receipts, with Shazam 2 garnering $11.7 million, while the original drew $20.3 million. Compounding those woes, the international audience largely tuned out of the Shazam sequel, as well, with the film only projecting $65.5 million globally. That figure is painfully short of the expected $85 million global opening projections. Deadline attempted to explain away Shazam 2’s lackluster box office performance, claiming that the titular superhero’s “B-tier” status (indeed, Shazam’s entire conceit is that he’s a teenage boy given Superman-tier powers) and lacks connection to the greater DC Universe is what contributed to poor numbers. Deadline would be wrong in that assessment. In regards to the “B-tier” explanation, Marvel’s Ant-Man is very much a B-tier superhero and that movie franchise’s underperforming threequel still netted $105.5 million in its opening weekend. So that explanation doesn’t really have any legs. Deadline is also wrong that Shazam’s not connected to the greater DC storytelling. Below is an ad for Shazam 2, and note the clear and obvious cameo of Wonder Woman in the promotional material:
They were clearly promoting that Shazam does, in fact, have some larger connections to DC’s grander plans. Another thing that Shazam 2 spent time promoting? The inclusion of a gay superhero. In an interview with entertainment site Dorkaholics, one of the screenwriters, Henry Gayden, made it a point to note that one of the superheroes was gay. “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,” Gayden told the outlet. “And I thought it was really important and really, really fought for us including that and bringing that to the fore in this movie.” That quote was, unsurprisingly, picked up by virtually every major LGBT outlet in existence (seriously, turn your safe search filters on and google “Shazam gay.”) Shazam lead star Zachary Levi even spoke about that quote in an interview with ET Canada. “There’s such incredible representation of ethnicity across the board,” Levi told the outlet. So no, Deadline, DC actually followed Marvel’s playbook to the tee here, and the film still flopped mightily. Perhaps there’s a simpler explanation here than trying to contextualize Shazam’s place in the superhero pantheon: People want to be entertained when they go to movies. Short of that, the bare minimum is to not be lectured at about homophobia while watching a movie about a teenager who can become a flying, magical superhero simply shouting the words “Shazam!” Superhero movies (again, thanks Disney) have been forgetting that moviegoers want to go see Batman punch the Joker in the face, not lecture him about how the Joker’s mass murders disproportionately affect people of color. Oh, and that Ant-Man threequel mentioned earlier? The one that more than tripled Shazam 2’s opening weekend box office? That movie included dreck about how misunderstood socialism is and promptly suffered one of the largest week-to-week drop-offs in box office history. That is awful news for Shazam. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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