Shazam! is an unapologetically buoyant triumph of a superhero movie

Shazam has arguably the goofiest plot device in the long history of goofy superhero plot devices: In order to tap into his superpowers and transform into his superhero self, Billy Batson (played by Asher Angel in this movie), a 14-year-old runaway teen, must shout “Shazam!” into the ether and get throttled with a bolt of lightning.

Saying that magic word grants him the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, the speed of Mercury (SHAZAM!), and a body some 15 years older and at its physical peak (a …

The Mueller report: what we know and don’t know

Special counsel Robert Mueller has completed a report on his findings in the Trump-Russia investigation, the Justice Department announced Friday.

So far, the report’s actual details have not leaked. But Justice Department officials have been disclosing some procedural information about what the report looks like, and when the public might get to see it.

The latest is that Attorney General Bill Barr has been reviewing the report at the Justice Department Saturday, but he will not release any findings to Congress today.

We’ll collect the newest information about what government officials are saying — and the key questions that still …

Vox Sentences: It’s Mueller time

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what’s happening in the world. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

The special counsel finishes his work; the UK extends its deadline.

The Mueller report is in

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  • After 22 months, 34 indictments, and weeks of breathless anticipation by reporters around the world, special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia is concluded. He has submitted a report to Attorney General Bill Barr. [Vox / Andrew Prokop]

Us’s big plot twist, explained

You can be forgiven for being confused at the end of Us. The movie, like creator Jordan Peele’s directorial debut Get Out, is rife with metaphors — only in Us, the allegory is much more ambiguous. That’s partly due to the complicated relationship between the main character, Adelaide, and the mysterious woman, Red, who appears out of her past. (Both women are played by Lupita Nyong’o in an incredible dual performance.)

If you’ve already seen the film then you know there’s a lot more connecting the two women than a mere case of stalking. But you might …

Vox Sentences: Should Harvard profit from photos of slavery?

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what’s happening in the world. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

Harvard is accused of profiting from images of enslaved people; an explosion at a chemical plant in China turns deadly.

Will a lawsuit force Harvard to reckon with its past?

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  • Tamara Lanier, a Connecticut woman descended from enslaved people, sued Harvard University on Wednesday for profiting off images of her ancestors. The Ivy League school refused to return the pictures

Trump’s new executive order on campus free speech is more symbolism than substance

President Donald Trump will sign an executive order Thursday on a cause célèbre for conservative activists: upholding free speech on college campuses.

But the executive order won’t do much more than reiterate the Trump administration wants schools to follow existing laws on free inquiry and direct the federal agencies that fund research to make sure that they’re doing so. It’s a largely a symbolic move meant to satisfy a key demand of Trump’s conservative base.

Trump first promised he would draft an executive order to protect free speech earlier this month during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference. …

John Hickenlooper: How come we’re not asking women whether they’re willing to put a man on the ticket?

John Hickenlooper, a former Colorado governor and one of several men running for the Democratic presidential nomination, tried to flip a question that’s been posed to a handful of male candidates — to limited success.

Hickenlooper, during a CNN town hall on Wednesday, was asked whether he would commit to considering a woman as his vice presidential running mate, something that Sen. Cory Booker and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke have signaled that they plan to do.

“Of course, but … I’ll ask you another question,” he said, in response to CNN anchor Dana Bash. “How come we’re not asking, …

Christchurch helped turn my mosque from a place of worship into a place of fear

While you’re still horrified by the mosque shooting, I’m going to share something very personal. Because that feeling you have right now, where even a small, kindhearted country like New Zealand isn’t safe, won’t last. That fear is how many Muslims feel every time we set foot in a mosque.

Islamophobia isn’t as isolated as many want to believe. Violence against religious minorities happens everywhere — just look at the shootings at the Oak Creek, Wisconsin, Sikh temple and the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh — and it’s getting worse. And while Jews and Muslims combined only account for …

The spring equinox is Wednesday: 7 things to know about the first day of spring

The vernal equinox is upon us: On Wednesday, March 20, both the Northern and Southern hemispheres will experience an equal amount of daylight. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it marks the beginning of spring, with daylight hours continuing to lengthen until the summer solstice in June. For those south of the equator, it’s the beginning of autumn.

Technically speaking, the equinox occurs when the sun is directly in line with the equator. This will happen at 5:58 pm Eastern time on Wednesday. (A few hours later, at 9:43 pm, you can look out for the “supermoon”, …

Hospitals keep ER fees secret. We’re uncovering them.

Each year, Americans make 141 million trips to the emergency room. In nearly all those visits, hospitals charge patients something called a facility fee: the price for walking in the door and seeking medical service.

Facility fees can be big: Reporter Sarah Kliff has seen charges that range from $533 to more than $3,000. But because these fees are kept secret until you receive your bill, we can’t know how high they get — or how much they vary.

We want to bring transparency to these extremely common but little-understood fees. So we have been collecting facility fee bills from