Humor aside, obviously.

It just struck me as odd; I enjoyed this film, and it was well acted by all who starred in it. And yes, Shazam is technically an immature 14-years-old kid with a chip on his shoulder in the films, so his behavior, in that context, makes sense. However... he was stated in film to have an ability which was supposed to surpass all that: the Wisdom of Solomon, supposedly the wisest human being to ever live, to the point of where he was considered divine. This power, by all accounts, gives Billy "excellent mental acuity and nearly infallible wisdom, including an innate understanding of virtually all known languages and sciences."

In the comics, Billy has used this ability to solve complex equations, make highly accurate intuitive guesses based on limited data, and have an almost clairvoyant insight that lets him turn disadvantages into advantages in battle. But we NEVER see this used out-rightly in the film! There are several opportunities for him to do so, too, but they are never capitalized on:

  • He has Freddy help him test his powers, which is basically guessing and trial and error (granted, again, this was Funny, and both gave Freddy a purpose and a reason for their friendship to build... but considering Solomon's Wisdom should logically encapsulate at least some knowledge about his other divine powers, it makes little sense).
  • He acts somewhat irresponsibly with his powers, charging people for selfies and such. He doesn't even use this new wisdom to try and find his mother, even though as Billy he had run out of leads previously.

  • He doesn't know which doors to go through in the Rock of Eternity (again, comedy happens when he opens the doors, but still...)

  • It's Mary that tips him off to Sivana's weakness. (Though, to his credit, he does show cleverness realizing they were the source of his power, as well as in luring Envy out of Sivanna).

  • All the other Marvels get their abilities and immediately show far more acuity with their specialized power-sets than he did.

Dude can't even figure out how to use the bathroom in his Hero form.

Again, I recognize a lot of the comedy of the film and the effectiveness of the others was built on these "daft man-child moments," but it seems like they severely underplayed the ability.

Was there some in-universe reason for this (other than the "rule of funny", of course)?

  • 2
    Back in the 1940s, there was a comic book story in which Billy Batson managed to use "the wisdom of Solomon" to ace a college entrance exam. That might be taken to mean that "Wisdom" was more along the lines of "Intelligence" -- able to remember everything he'd ever read, and do math problems swiftly and accurately? Rather than always showing perfect judgment in tactical decisions? Just a stray thought. (I think different writers in the comics have interpreted "Wisdom of Solomon" differently, over the decades.)
    – Lorendiac
    Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 3:54
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    @LorendiacYou make a good point; this "wisdom of Solomon" has been as nebulous as the "power of Zeus"; the former has encompassed everything from what you've said to perfect recall, polyglotism, genius level intellect, intuitive knowledge of most subject matter, masterful oration, even hypnotism and psychic resistance just as the "power" has basically been a catch all for "God-level magic"; it's only in recent years been limited to mastery of all lightning, semi-divine authority, magical resistance and amping his other abilities. This doesn't help when trying to define the character, though.
    – Russhiro
    Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 4:06
  • 3
    I assumed it was like the power of flight - he has it, but first needs to learn how to use it (as he does at the end of the movie, when he sees the wisdom in sharing his powers with his adopted family. Which is a somewhat different idea of wisdom than intelligence, but arguably more salomonic). Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 8:43
  • 1
    The reason the others show more acuity in their specialized powers could be because they were specialized, and thus had more instinctive feel of how their main power worked. Billy had all the powers and was trying to figure them all out at the same time. Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 20:44
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    Having the wisdom of Solomon is no guarantee you'll make the right choices with it. Just look at what happened to Solomon's kingdom in the Old Testament.
    – Nathan K.
    Commented May 29, 2020 at 0:57

3 Answers 3


I fear you may be confusing knowledge with wisdom. Knowledge is raw data. Wisdom is deep understanding of that raw data. Billy ultimately defeated his foe because he sussed out 1) how to create the Marvel Family, 2) what the vulnerabilities of his foe were, and 3) how to exploit them. And he did that in the space of a few heartbeats.

Remember that at the same time he is a child and we see him only first learning to use his abilities. Using the mind to solve a problem is like any of his other powers, he needed to actively use it. Billy kept losing because he relied on his physical powers, he only won when he stopped to think and understand what was going on around him.

But learning to stop and think is something very few people do, especially children at that age. What you saw was the process of him learning to use his mind as a tool.

  • That contradicts the whole "All encompassing knowledge" aspect of thr Wisdom of Solomon's power, though. As to his actions (1) Sivana himself basically showed how to transfer the abilities, and it was how Billy got his powers in the first place; no big set of wisdom there. (2) gave him some credit for that, but it was basically Mary who told him about it first (3) I'll give him that one, but only after Mary's help. It wasn;t exactly exceptionally difficult, but credit where it is due.
    – Russhiro
    Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 18:39
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    As a philosopher, I have to chime in saying that traditionally, wisdom is all about good acting without much of a thought, ie. a form of knowing how. Well, these writers just don't have any education, do they? ;) Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 19:49
  • @Russhiro; but again, that's the difference between Wisdom and Knowledge. Billy knew about transferring power, he knew about the empty chairs at the Rock of Eternity, and he knew he was outnumbered by the Deadly Sins. All the knowledge was there. How to use that knowledge, that's wisdom. As was said, all through the film Billy doesn't stop to think about his situation which is why he gets in trouble and why he's continually getting his ass kicked. Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 20:39
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    This is a pretty funny way to easily explain the different between Wisdom and Knowledge. reddit.com/r/DnD/comments/2jgpef/wisdom_vs_intelligence
    – Daishozen
    Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 23:07
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    @KeithMorrison So we can give him credit for being clever, which we saw at the beginning of the film he was very capable of; first thing we saw him do was pull a fast one on some cops, and use his skills to track down over 40 "Batsons". He was also caring, to a degree, which is why Shazam chose him; he barely knew Freddy at this point, stole from the kid, but wouldn't let him be bullied. So Billy showed capability of thinking; never once implied he was stupid. As adult Shazam, though, he basically had that exact same cleverness; no greater wisdom is really shown in action.
    – Russhiro
    Commented Dec 11, 2019 at 16:59

What you mentioned was also pointed out by various characters in Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023), the second film in the DCEU Shazam series.

Eugene: If I may point out one of the powers that may be possibly MIA. Boop. [points to "The Wisdom of Solomon" written on paper]
Billy: I'm sorry, are you very unsubtly implying that I somehow lack the wisdom of… Solo Man?
Eugene: Yeah.
Darla: Well, maybe it comes later.

According to the Wizard, Billy/Shazam's heart is wise and knows exactly what must be done. Shazam exercised good judgment when he shared his powers with his foster siblings. In his dialogue, the Wizard explains how Billy/Shazam is wise (emphasis mine):

Shazam (wizard) [addressing Billy]: You don't have a shred of wisdom in that brain of yours. But your heart is wise. And it knows exactly what must be done. I spent millennia searching for a worthy champion and no one was worthy of what I once shared with my brothers and sisters. But when you shared your powers, you did not hesitate. For you, everyone can be worthy if given a chance. Now, go fight for your family. Go fight for the world. I chose right when I chose you.


It has nothing to do with raw data. Referring to the details about the wisdom of solomon in his wikipedia tells us:

Billy has instant access to a vast amount of scholarly knowledge. He possesses excellent mental acuity and nearly infallible wisdom, including an innate understanding of virtually all known languages and sciences, and has a photographic memory and perfect recall, being able to retain full knowledge of all he experiences with perfect clarity.

From this, he can read and decipher any coding, solve long mathematical equations instantaneously, and make intuitive guesses based on limited data, which are almost always correct. He also has a great understanding of divine phenomena in the mortal world, an uncanny awareness of his circumstances akin to clairvoyance that lets him turn disadvantages into advantages, and can provide counselling and advice in times of need. In some stories, this power also gives him the ability to hypnotize people.

in short, The movie dropped the ball hard. He was greatly nerfed for the purposes of the plot.

  • 2
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. "The movie dropped the ball hard" doesn't answer the question "Was there some in-universe reason for this?" This might make an answer for a more general question, but this was specifically asked in-universe.
    – DavidW
    Commented May 28, 2020 at 18:19
  • That is, in fact, not what wisdom is. And although the comics went with this interpretation over the years, the film appears to have gone with the more traditional, and accurate, definition. Commented Dec 22, 2022 at 18:14

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