The DCEU is, ostensibly, as we know it no more. The fast-tracked approach to trying to keep up with the MCU that started with 2016’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice didn’t work and now the stewardship of the film branch of DC Comics is under new management. James Gunn and Peter Safran plan to revitalise the ailing franchises with some freshness, deviating from what has gone before and essentially resetting everything, much to the chagrin of many fans of the series. The old guard – primarily Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, and Gal Gadot – are nowhere to be seen with the futures of Jason Momoa’s Aquaman and Ezra Miller’s The Flash up in the air (though for very different reasons).

There were some sporadic highlights through their tenures but there were more high profile disappointments than anything else. Yet, nestled away in the background of it all was Shazam!, 2019’s fun, effervescent caper that did more in its own film than many of the major characters had managed in numerous outings. It was, forgive the pun, the lightning bolt that was needed to help spark everything back to life and provide some hope for its future.

That hope didn’t translate and, despite the same creatives returning for this anticipated sequel – director David F. Sandberg, its winning cast led by Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, and Jack Dylan Grazer and screenwriter Henry Gayden – Fury of the Gods goes from a flash of light to damp squib. True, there’s some fun still to be had here but like many of the films that have gone before it, it falls foul to sequelitis: going bigger, louder, and more excessively OTT on its digital footprint so that it undermines all the good work that has gone before.

SEE MORE: Check out our chats with the cast of Shazam: Fury of the Gods from the UK Premiere

So part two: Shazam (Levi) and his foster family of superheroes have been using their newfound powers for good, helping to keep Philadelphia safe, despite the criticisms in the media about their unique style of heroism. Soon, though, they are needed for a much larger threat in the re-emergence of the Daughters Of Atlas (Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu, and Rachel Zegler), intent on taking back the powers they believe were stolen from them centuries ago and bringing the world to their will. So, much bigger than part one…

Much of what made its predecessor feel so fresh and vibrant wasn’t just the superhero noise of it all but the relationships: the tension of the family dynamics and the quieter, pithier moments that gave it its unique energy and welcoming nature. Here, whilst much of that is retained to a degree and there are timely narratives on broken homes, parental pressures, and the importance of finding your own path, it feels hugely overshadowed by the excessive, overwhelming nature of a story that focuses on the end of the world shenanigans rather than those on the ground. Thus much of its original charm is jettisoned, a fate not helped by instances of some truly awful dialogue.

Is it entertaining? Sure, in a vacuous, tepid way that won’t stay with you after the credits and post-credits have rolled. This is despite the best intentions of its winning family ensemble and the fresh charisma of Mirren and Zegler. Ultimately, for all its nobility, Shazam! Fury of the Gods sadly goes the way of its DCEU brethren and becomes a forlorn footnote in an overwhelmingly disappointing family.