The Shazam Principle

The world today seems to be more unforgiving than it ever has been before. Everything happens so fast that by the time you’ve been able to digest what has taken place, you’re left feeling like you must have missed something. If you feel like this right now, chances are you are not alone. I certainly have felt like this many times. However, with the recent release of DC’s new family feature Shazam!, I think there’s an answer to this situation. (There are minor spoilers for DC’s Shazam! in this article, so if you don’t want to be spoiled, tread with caution).

Shazam! features two characters that encompass this feeling of being lost in the world; those being the Wizard Shazam, and Billy Batson.

As we see in the film, the Wizard Shazam is searching endlessly for someone to inherit his powers. This person is supposed to be the ideal individual—free from lust, greed, envy, pride, sloth, gluttony, and wrath. The only problem with this idea is that Shazam cannot seem to find what he’s looking for. For years, he brings people into his presence—testing their goodness in the hopes that he may finally find someone who is seemingly perfect in every way. By the time he is old, and his magic is too weak to protect the world, he is left with one option: find someone who at least has a spark of good.

Enter Billy Batson, a fourteen-year-old foster boy living on his own in the world. Like the wizard, Billy is searching for someone as well. Someone he lost when he was younger, in the hopes that they would welcome him back with open arms. To Billy, this person is the only thing that can make him feel like he’s not alone in the world. They’re the perfect answer to his lack of belonging. Billy’s plan doesn’t end up going the way he envisioned. He’s put into yet another foster home, and stranger yet, comes face to face with the Wizard Shazam. The wizard’s meeting with Billy is so quick that by the time Billy gets the wizard’s powers, he hasn’t had a second to see what he missed.

Similar to the wizard and Billy, we as humans more often than not are searching for something. A perfect person, a perfect place, an item, that perfect job. But more commonly, I think we sometimes are searching for that perfect person inside of us, and like the wizard we might struggle to find that. So what do we do? We wait, hoping that our perfect self will come with time or that we’ll eventually find it within ourselves, just like Shazam did. Sometimes we might have that sudden spark of goodness that just decides to come out. In Billy’s case, his spur-of-the-moment good deed resulted in him being gifted with the powers of a superhero.

The part of the puzzle that we all sometimes forget is that we aren’t perfect. At some point in our lives, we all give into our desires and temptations. All of the stars won’t line up for us all of the time. Some of our quests don’t end up going the way we hoped. Take Billy for example: after he gets his powers and learns how to use them, his good deeds that the wizard chose him for turn into selfish profitability. He gave into one of the dangers that the wizard imagined the “perfect” figure would shun: greed. And like Billy, by the time the evil force Shazam warned him about hits him right in the face, he’s unprepared. Ever feel like life is that evil force? Did you feel unprepared when it met you head on? I certainly have before.

The truth is that we probably won’t achieve perfection in this life. That pure, spotless person we’re waiting for won’t show up. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be happy. Just because your perfect job or your perfect life or your perfect self didn’t show does not have to mean that you and this life are not good enough. Because the ironic reality of it all is that you are good enough. Everyone is good enough. In Shazam!, Billy does end up defeating the evil that seems to be more powerful than him. However, there’s an important choice he makes that wins him the battle. Billy shares his gifts with the people that he loves. He may have been good enough for himself, but he needed others to bear him up in a desperate time of need.

Doesn’t life feel like this sometimes? Maybe you think your possibly good enough for yourself or maybe you don’t, but world still seems too big, too scary, too evil to try, so why bother? This life wasn’t meant to be easy, but it sure wasn’t meant to be lonely.

If you feel this way, I invite you to think about the message that the Wizard Shazam and Billy Batson give. By the end of the movie, Shazam and Billy don’t find that perfect thing they were searching for. But things still worked out for them in the end. Shazam found a champion that was pure enough to see the right from wrong, and Billy found a family that made him feel like he belonged somewhere. The important thing for Billy is that he discovered the good deeds he could do with his powers, and shared them with his family. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we get to share super strength or flight with the people around us, but we can share what makes us good.

If you feel like life is happening so fast that by the time you’re able to stop for a second and comprehend what happened you’re asking yourself, “What did I miss?”, maybe ask, “What have I missed inside me all along?”. Search your heart. What makes you happy? What’s something you are good at? What makes you smile? Once you find that spark of goodness that’s been there all along, share it. Share it with your friends, your family, and anyone else that is in need. While you may be a hero now, others are searching for the hero inside of them.

Everyone has flaws, everyone has weaknesses, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be our own heroes. That also doesn’t mean we can’t make each other better. Not perfect, but a little better every day. Find your spark and share it. It may take something as simple as a single word. Everyone has a hero inside them, it just takes a little magic to bring it out. The world needs more heroes, not perfect champions, to make it a happier place.