For a superhero movie, Shazam! flew under the radar this year. It deserved more attention, it’s one of the best superhero movies in recent memory, and definitely a high water mark for DC Films. But it came out smack dab in the middle of Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame, and it seemed to get lost in the shuffle (it only made $364 million, which is the lowest of a DC movie this decade). That’s too bad, it’s genuinely good and is almost a superhero movie made for kids. Maybe that’s part of the problem—it seemed too kiddie to appeal to adult superhero fans but was a little too adult for actual children. The relatively muted response, though, has not stopped Warner Brothers from ordering a sequel.
Following the slew of release dates that include The Matrix 4, Warners announced a few more movies, including Shazam! 2 on April 1, 2022 (taking a spot formerly held for Untitled DC Event Film). The date is a little unfortunate, as it will prompt lots of terrible April Fools and prank-inspired copy, but this does mean that Shazam! 2 will open just four months after Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam film, due in December 2021. Black Adam is a traditional nemesis for Shazam, so how much do you want to bet these two movies are related? And maybe, if Black Adam lives up to the hype, that can boost Shazam’s profile and get a deserving hero a little more attention.
Something to watch out for, though, is the inevitable competition from Marvel. We don’t yet know what their full 2022 slate is, but Black Panther 2 is due on May 6, 2022. The average movie-goer does not distinguish between DC and Marvel—it’s all just “superheroes”—but we have already seen that when there is an abundance at the buffet, audiences get choosy (Shazam! is actually a perfect example). They figured out how to make a goofy character like Shazam work really well, and it deserves another shot to find an audience. But with Black Panther 2 opening one month later, they're probably boned.