Shazam! Some curiosities and easter eggs on the new DC Extended Universe movie !
The most shamelessly childish and light side of DC Comics and its cinematic universe is now in theaters with Shazam !, the film by David F. Sandberg that brings to the screen the adventures of Billy Batson, a teenager capable of transforming himself into a superhero with a look adults saying a magic word (“Shazam!”, in fact).
We are far from the dark tones of the early days of the DC Extended Universe, as we have also explained in our review of Shazam, (but the most serious moments are not missing, like the whole part dedicated to the past of the villain Thaddeus Sivana), and with more atmosphere the various references to the comic-book world or to its previous film versions also arrive with greater frequency. Here, therefore, as usual, our overview of the most amusing easter eggs and curiosities. As always, a warning: the article contains spoilers!
1. Black Adam, not bad badie
While explaining the nature of his powers to Billy, the magician Shazam alludes to a disciple of the past who freed the Seven Deadly Sins, the entities that presently use Sivana to return to our world. The student in question is not called by name, but it is easy to think that it is Black Adam, the historical nemesis of the protagonist that Warner Bros. dreamt of bringing to the cinema for over ten years, always with the same chosen actor: Dwayne Johnson , which although not appearing in the film (at least one cameo was planned in the early stages of production) is mentioned in the credits as executive producer. Part of his storyline was given here in Sivana: the strategy used by Billy to defeat him, turning his adoptive brothers into heroes, was used in the comics against Adam. The character should appear in a film of his own, according to rumors, while in the probable sequel to the film, as suggested by Shazam’s mid-credits scene, we should witness the alliance between Sivana and the alien worm Mister Mind.
2. From Captain Marvel to Shazam, a matter of names
The most appealing recurring gag in the film concerns the name of the hero, proposed with different variations without anyone ever using the right one. This is most likely an inside joke related to the legal problems that arose from his first comic book title: Captain Marvel, exactly like several characters from the House of Ideas (but in this case Billy Batson’s alter ego was born before all others). In 2011, the DC solved the problem by officially renaming it Shazam, which led to a change in the operation of the magic word: in the comics, Billy must say it with the specific intent to transform, while in the film this happens regardless.
3. Sometimes they come back
Like many heroes and antagonists in superhero stories, Thaddeus Sivana does not have a happy relationship with his parents, or at least his father, who appears in the dramatic prologue of the film and then in the classic showdown between victim and bully. And the choice of the interpreter for the father figure is not entirely random, since it is John Glover, aka Lionel Luthor (Lex’s father) in Smallville (as well as DC’s veteran in general with roles in Batman & Robin and in the animated television Batman) . From the series on Clark Kent’s youth comes Adam Brody, who in the final part of the film plays the “super” version of Freddy Freeman, a great achievement for an actor whose most famous character (Seth Cohen in The OC) is a huge fan superhero comics. The other nostalgic reference is obviously the musical theme of the movie Superman, which is heard in the final scene when the Man of Steel appears surprisingly, framed from the neck down (this is because Henry Cavill, contacted for the cameo in question, was engaged on another set).
4. Ivan Drago between Rocky and Shazam
With the decision to set the film in Philadelphia, references to Rocky were practically inevitable, one directed with mention of the film on the famous staircase (although the shoot took place mainly in Toronto) and the other through the use of the song Eye of the Tiger. Two very different cinematographic worlds, but linked together by an actor: Dolph Lundgren, aka Ivan Drago, who also appeared in Aquaman in the role of Mera’s father. The connection between the adventures of Billy Batson and the first feature film by director David F. Sandberg, the horror Lights Out – Terror in the dark: as revealed by the filmmaker and by the actress in question, his wife Lotta Losten, the Dr. Crosby, who helps Sivana gather testimonies from other people discarded by the magician, is the same character played by Losten in the opening scene of the other film.
5. Return to the origins
Part of the film’s emotional core revolves around Billy’s attempt to find his mother, with results that are not exactly cheerful, while he undoubtedly gives a smile the most symbolic homage to the birth of the character, through two references to his editorial history: the most evident one, since it appears two or three times, it is the name of the school attended by Batson and family. It’s called Fawcett, like the publishing house that published the adventures of Captain Marvel (as it was called at the time) from 1939 to 1953, before ceasing all due to a legal dispute with the DC (which claimed that the character was too much similar to Superman as we also explain in our study of Shazam’s origins, the second tribute is more subtle, en passant mentioned when Billy finds out where his mother lives: the father’s first name is CC, like CC Beck, the designer who conceived the hero with screenwriter Bill Parker.