The cast and crew of Shazam! Fury of the Gods have shared their frustration with less-than-stellar reviews and the film’s disappointing box office performance, but perhaps nobody has been more vocal about it than Zachary Levi, who’s now framing Fury of the Gods as more family-friendly programming to the weekend’s big box office hit.
In a nearly 14-minute Instagram Live video that Levi posted to his Instagram account last week, Levi touched on everything from voicing his frustrations at how Fury of the Gods was marketed—he says he’s still getting messages from people who didn’t know the film was in theaters, despite it being released on March 17—to explaining certain aspects of the post-credits scene that were out of his control (partly because of the backlash he’d gotten from Zack Snyder fans); he also sang a couple of songs for folks and raised money for charity during the live-stream.
But as he tried to pitch the movie to viewers, calling it “like Goonies…it’s got the heart, the humor, the charm, the adventure, the spookiness, all that stuff,” he placed Fury of the Gods in direct comparison to John Wick: Chapter 4. And while he says he’s a Keanu Reeves fan, one of those movies is ultra-violent. (In the U.S., Shazam! Fury of the Gods is rated PG-13, while John Wick: Chapter 4 is rated R.)
“Listen, I love Keanu Reeves. If you want to go see John Wick, fucking knock your—go for it. I’m not gonna tell you not to,” Levi said. “But John Wick’s not a family movie. So if you’re looking for a movie for your family, or your date, or whatever, or you just don’t want to get into hardcore [makes gun shooting motion with his hands] pop pop pop pop pop, go see Shazam! Fury of the Gods. You’ll thoroughly enjoy it.”
On Twitter, a snippet of Levi’s Instagram Live went viral because it makes it seem like he’s saying that not only should you watch Shazam! Fury of the Gods over John Wick: Chapter 4, but that it’s the superior movie.
A TikTok of the clip received over 841,000 views to date, leading people to comment about how they planned to watch John Wick: Chapter 4 instead and that he’s “so salty no one watched his movie.”
But it’s not such a clear-cut dig at John Wick: Chapter 4. The viral clip is misleading and has been edited to make it look like Levi is antagonizing viewers. He’s not talking about the new John Wick when he references how Fury of the Gods is a far better film but rather the film’s Rotten Tomatoes score: Fury of the Gods has a 51% rating from critics, considered rotten, while the audience score is much higher at 87%.
“Is it a perfect film? No,” he said. “I’m hard-pressed to think of perfect films. But we are a far better film than some of these ‘critics, reviewers’ have given us credit for. And those of you who have seen the movie know this. And those of you who haven’t seen the movie are in for a treat. Because it’s gonna blow your mind.”
Although Levi was referencing his comments about the film’s post-credits scene, Zack Snyder and James Gunn, and who to blame for Fury of the Gods’ box office performance earlier in the video and not John Wick: Chapter 4, he acknowledged that what he said in the live-stream would likely be taken out of context.
“Those are clips; those are edited,” he said. “Those are taken completely out of context. So I just encourage you, if you’re out there if you’re hearing this right now—by the way, this’ll probably all get chopped up, too, that is the irony—but I swear to you. I’m not blaming any of you. I’m really not.”
Levi is far from the only person attached to Fury of the Gods to counter negative reviews and encourage people to watch it. But the continued focus might suggest that even with the influx of positive messages he received, the negative reviews from critics might still be a major wrinkle that audience reception might not be able to fully counter.