Jun 9, 2023

The Top 10 Hunks of Shazam

Captain Marvel (1941-53) was DC Comics' attempt to circumvent the obvious homoeroticism in the 1940s superhero-teen sidekick relationship by making the two the same person.  14-year old Billy Batson transforms into adult superhero Captain Marvel when he says the magical word Shazam.

Which, by the way, is an acronym for the magical beings who bestowed the power upon him: Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, Mercury.

It's all very silly, and it provides a new problem: how to give Captain Marvel a girlfriend, when he's really a teenage boy with muscles?  He can't very well be dating Lois Lane.

The 2019 movie has Billy (Asher Angel) turning into an unnamed superhero (played by Zachary Levi).  But it also gives Billy a sidekick of his own, Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer).

And, in the absence of a girlfriend, they have a gay-subtext romance.

Plus one of his foster-home buddies, Pedro (Jovan Armand) appears to identify as gay when they hide out in a strip club and he says "not my thing."

The result is a pleasantly non-heterosexist superhero movie, which also has a surprising number of hunkoids in the cast.

1. Adam Brody, Freddy's adult superhero alter-ego (left).

2. Zachary Levi.

3. All of the other residents of Billy's foster home morph into superheroes.  Eugene (Ian Chen) into Ross Butler

4. Pedro (Jovand Armand) into D. J. Cotrona

5. Instead of a whole fraternity of immortals from the Bible and Greek and Roman mythology, Shazam is a single person, played by Djimon Hounsou.

6. Cooper Andrews as the beefy foster father to the superheroic crew.

7 Mark Strong plays the Big Bad, Dr. Silvana, who unleashes the Seven Deadly Sins (Sloth, Lust, Envy, and so on) onto the world.  What's with all the villains with Ph.D.s?  Part of the culture of anti-intellectualism?

8. The teen idol set is already familiar with Asher Angel.

9. Evan Marsh as the main bully who is terrorizing Freddy.

10. Landon Doak as the bullying brother who terrorizes a teenage Dr. Silvana.

"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia": Poop, Teeth Extraction, and Gay Denial. Sounds Fun, RIght?

I haven't reviewed an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia since 2018, when Mac came out through a pas-de-deux with a lady, and I hadn't watched the show for several years before that.  I disliked the gross-out humor, the antipathy the gang felt for each other, and especially Mac going in and out, from gay to straight to gay again.  It's now in Season 18, so I thought I would give it a try.

In case you aren't familiar with it, Always Sunny features five "pals" who run a down-and-out bar in...Philadelphia.  Most episodes involve outlandish schemes to destroy each other or other people.

1.-2. Brother and sister Dennis (Glenn Howerton, below) and Dee

3. Frank (Danny DeVito), who is either their biological or adopted father.  He got extraordinarily rich through conning people, but prefers to live in squalor with Charlie.

4. Charlie (Charlie Day, top photo), their illiterate friend.  He and Frank share a bed, and in one episode got married, I think.  Charlie also gets extremely jealous when Frank starts dating his mother: "Don't try to steal my man again."  But they behave more like heterosexual life partners than a gay couple.

5. Mac (Rob McElhenny, below), who lives with Dennis and apparently has a crush on him.

Scene 1:
Dennis and Dee take Frank out to dinner to butter him up so he'll leave them some money when he dies: "We do a pretty good job of pretending that you're not an animal." While trying to open a can of sardines with a gun, Frank accidentally shoots them both.  "Oh, don't be so dramatic.  I just nicked you."

Scene 2: Dennis and Dee burst into Paddy's Bar and complain to Mac and Charlie about being shot.  They have to take the gun away from him, or he'll accidentally kill himself before he gets senile, and they can con him into leaving them his money.  

Charlie notes that he's expecting an inheritance, too: when he turns 40, he'll inherit the jar of teeth donated by all of his dead relatives.  Mac points out that he's already well past 40. 

Scene 3: Charlie and Mac burst into their moms' house to retrieve the jar of teeth (their moms are apparently a butch-femme lesbian couple).  While she's looking, Mac asks his mom about any inheritance he has coming.  Uncle Donald has some letters that his grandpa wrote to his dad during World War II.

Charlie's Mom gave away the jar of teeth, so she tries pulling her own teeth out to replace them (gross!).   Or he could retrieve them from his sisters, the worst people on the planet.  

Scene 4: Dennis and Dee driving with Frank, who is using his gun to scratch himself. They can't just grab it, or he would shoot them.  They decide to give him "a false sense of security" by being nice to him all day.

Cut to Charlie, Mac, and the moms on their way to retrieve the letters and the teeth. Charlie's Mom is driving too slowly and crying, and Mac's Mom is smoking and burning them with her cigarette lighter.

Scene 5: Dennis and Dee start out the nice day by buying Frank hamburgers.  He shoves his gun in his mouth, thinking that it's a French fry.  They stop at the bridge so he can run around and talk to his homeless friends.  He pisses on a fire hydrant.  "Frank is literally turning into a dog," they complain.

Cut to the four at Uncle Donald's house to retrieve the letters.  After a lot of gross comments about pooping, he serves them quiche.  He explains that Grandpa wrote to Mac's father, but not to him, because he was "the funny one" and "different," which is why he never married.  "I'm sure you understand what that's like, Mac."  Mac says "No," and then "I want the letters to pass down as a legacy to my kids."

Ok, what's going on here.  Why doesn't Uncle Donald just say that he's gay?  Why does Mac deny that he's gay?  

Uncle Donald: "All I ever really wanted was a connection to my father.  Do you understand what that's like, Mac?" "No."

Uncle Donald: "We should hang out some time and toss a football around."  Mac: "I don't like football."  Charlie glares at him: "Dude, all you ever talk about his wanting to throw a football with your father.  Everything you ever wanted is here.  Why are you ignoring it?"  I guess Mac wanted a father figure? I seem to recall that his biological father has rejected him because he's gay?  Mac doesn't explain.  While Uncle Donald is suggesting alternative activities, he walks out.  Harsh, dude.

Scene 6: Dennis and Dee take Frank to the beach, where he has a lot of memories.  He tries shooting the ocean: "Polluted sack of shit!"

He catches on to why they gave him a perfect day.  "I hung on too long, didn't I?"  He gives them the gun, and asks that they do it while he's looking at the ocean.  Uh-oh, they just wanted the gun, but Frank expects them to kill him!  "We're not going to kill you," they explain.  "There are too many people around."  He takes his gun back.

Cut to the four at Charlie's sisters' house to retrieve the teeth.  They burst out, calling Charlie a "fag" and asking why he brought his "fag friend."  They won't give him the teeth, because they need them for ASMR: they get paid to dip their hands in the jar and make teeth-clinking noises.  

More poop references.  Mac's mom used the World War II letters to wipe with, so they're gone.

Scene 7: Back at the bar, Charlie is trying to extract his own teeth to make a new teeth jar.  Frank opens the door with his guy, they yell at him, so he drops it.  It goes off, ricochets around, and hits everyone in the bar.  The end.

Whoa, I don't know what I hated the most about that episode, the teeth, the poop, or Mac denying being gay.  My Grade: is there anything below F?

See also: Sunny's Mac Finds His Pride

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