WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Shazam!, in theaters now.
After the doom and gloom of previous DC Extended Universe movies, Warner Bros. opted for a different approach with Aquaman and Shazam!. Gone is the darker tone of films such as Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, replaced by a much more vibrant, colorful and energetic formula delivering cheers, excitement and laughter.
What started in Aquaman is taken further in Shazam!, a movie which is easily the funniest installment in the DCEU yet. As Billy Batson embarks on a journey to become Earth's Mightiest Mortal, he goes through many beats that are familiar in superhero storytelling. But the movie shatters expectations by delivering perhaps the funniest joke of the film when it comes time for Dr. Sivana's big, supervillain speech.
Supervillains love their speeches. It's become a staple of the genre: When hero and villain face each other for the fate of the entire world, the supervillain will break into a monologue either explaining their elaborate plan or vaguely promising how the hero's efforts are futile. Whether on the comic book page or the silver screen, the supervillain speech trope is expected by the audience.
Dr. Sivana's big speech comes near the end of the film, when Shazam and the supervillain are fighting in the Philadelphia skyline. There, flying above the city, the two characters take a break from sparring for Sivana to deliver his villainous monologue. However, he doesn't realize Shazam is so far away that he can't even hear him.
The camera cuts back and forth between the two characters. While Sivana talks about his Machiavellian plans, the action cuts to Billy, who is saying that he can't hear anything. Funnier still, from his vantage point, Sivana is so far away that we can barely hear him mumble.
This is a hilarious moment that deconstructs the supervillain speech trope, playing on our expectations and delivering a crowd-pleasing moment. Not only is it a perfectly character-defining moment for the superhero, it's a brilliant microcosm of everything Shazam represents: he's a hero, and he'll fight against adversity... but he'll also have fun while he does.
Directed by David F. Sandberg, Shazam! stars Asher Angel as Billy Batson, Zachary Levi as Shazam, Mark Strong as Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, Djimon Hounsou as the ancient wizard Shazam, Grace Fulton as Mary Bromfield, Jack Dylan Grazer as Frederick “Freddy” Freeman, Ian Chen as Eugene Choi, Jovan Armand as Pedro Peña, Faithe Herman as Darla Dudley, Cooper Andrews as Victor Vásquez and Marta Milans as Rosa Vásquez. The film is in theaters now.