“Shazam! Fury of the Gods,” the sequel to the better-than-it-had-any-right-to-be “Shazam!” (from 2019) is here. It once again stars Zachary Levi as the adult superhero version of pint-sized Billy Batson (Asher Angel), whose powers were bestowed upon him by a dying wizard. (That wizard, played by Djimon Hounsou, returns for some reason). This time around, Shazam and his super-powered family (including Adam Brody, Meagan Good, D. J. Cotrona and Grace Fulton) are going up against villainous gods played by Helen Mirren, Lucy Lui and Rachel Zegler, in her first big movie role since “West Side Story.”
But Shazam is also facing something far more challenging than wooden dragons and wrathful gods – he’s staring down the barrel of an uncertain future for DC-related properties. Amidst a failed spinoff, a highly publicized regime change at Warner Bros. Discovery and a nearly complete reset of everything that has come before it in the DC Universe, “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” sits precipitously on the edge of a very deep ravine.
We’re going to go deep on “Shazam! Fury of the Gods,” including diving into the legacy cameos, what direction the post-credits scenes point for the future of the series and more.
That said, this will be very spoiler-heavy. Fair warning!
Is “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” Part of the Old or New DC Universe?
Considering how publicized the installation of James Gunn and Peter Safran as the heads of the newly formed DC Films has been, it’s fair to wonder what DC Universe “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” exists in. Is it this new DC Universe, as outlined by Gunn and Safran? Or this still a part of the so-called DC Extended Universe (regularly referred to as the Snyderverse, thanks to the foundational films by director Zack Snyder that formed the bedrock of the universe).
“Shazam! Fury of the Gods” very much exists in the older timeline; the one where Henry Cavill was still employed as Superman, Ben Affleck is Batman and Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman (more on that in a minute). Just like in the first “Shazam,” the character is awed by the characters from the original DCEU, even talking about how the original line-up of heroes are so much more impressive than he is – Flash, Aquaman and Batman.
While Shazam didn’t appear in either version of DC’s splashy team-up movie “Justice League,” the coda of “Shazam!” featured Superman joining his friend Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer) in the school cafeteria. Tellingly, you don’t see Henry Cavill’s face, but it’s the same suit that was seen in “Man of Steel,” “Batman v. Superman” and “Justice League” (you know, when he comes back from the dead).
Is Black Adam in “Shazam 2?”
Perhaps the most glaring omission from “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” is Black Adam, the Shazam villain who got his own spin-off movie last year starring Dwayne Johnson. A Johnson passion project, development on the “Black Adam” movie actually predates “Shazam!,” to the point that, on the first movie, Johnson and his producing partner have an executive producer credit.
Clearly it was assumed that there would be a crossover of some kind, given how linked the characters are in comic book lore, but when “Black Adam” underperformed at the box office, plans for Johnson’s character were discarded, including potential team-up (or face-off) movies with Shazam or Cavill’s Superman, who makes an appearance in the closing moments of “Black Adam.” Gunn and Safran also didn’t mention him in their big press conference for the first phase of the new DC Universe.
While there is no indication that Johnson shot anything for “Shazam! Fury of the Gods,” director David Sandberg has stated that one of the post-credits scenes was altered to be more in line with the current direction of the DC Universe. And while he didn’t confirm that Black Adam was involved, it would be fitting to show off that character … even if they do the thing from the first movie and don’t show his face.
That Wonder Woman Cameo
One secret appearance from a former DCEU character is the worst kept secret imaginable, as Warner Bros. has started airing TV spots that include the character but, in case you missed all of this, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is very much in “Shazam! Fury of the Gods.”
At first, her appearance seems to be an elaborate joke, continuing the “you don’t see his face” gag from the end of the first movie, with young Billy having a dream about Wonder Woman where they’re on a romantic date in Paris but when she turns around, it’s the Wizard instead. It’s a funny-enough moment in a funny-enough movie, but at the end of “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” (and here’s where we should remind you of that spoiler warning up top) Shazam/Billy is killed and buried in the land of the Gods.
The surviving heroes bemoan the fact that only a god could bring him back, but there are no gods left. “There is one,” an off-screen voice says. Cue Hans Zimmer’s absolutely iconic, shredding “Wonder Woman” theme music from “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” (you know the one). Diana is, of course, a god, and uses her powers to revive Shazam/Billy. He crawls out of the crave and is returned. And of course the first thing he does is try to flirt with Wonder Woman (hey, he is a teenage boy in real life). “Stick to saving the world, kid,” Wonder Woman says as she walks off, past camera, and potentially out of the DC Universe forever?
A third Patty Jenkins-directed “Wonder Woman” movie with Gal Gadot back as the character was planned but Jenkins’ version was scuttled. And while she could come back for a cameo in “The Flash,” which opens up unlimited possibilities due to the movie’s plot relying on a multiverse mechanic (hence Michael Keaton’s Batman returning to the fold alongside Ben Affleck’s version of the character), there won’t be a standalone, Gadot-led “Wonder Woman” movie in the foreseeable future. This is a shame, as her two movies were bright spots in the otherwise very dour first round of DC movies (yes, we will go to bat for “Wonder Woman 1984” – it’s clever and charming and fun).
Alright, we’ve talked around them enough. Let’s talk about the post-credits scenes. The first post-credits scene is relatively Shazam-light and the second one doesn’t feature him at all.
The first sequence actually stars two characters that you are probably familiar with if you saw Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad” and his follow-up, the HBO Max series “Peacemaker” – Emilia Harcourt (Jennifer Holland) and John Economos (Steve Agee).
They are tromping through the backwoods of wherever, Economos is complaining about his feet hurting, Harcourt is clapping back (but still PG-13). And they finally come upon Shazam, who is shooting bottles using his lightning powers. Harcourt asks him if he wants to join the Justice – but before she can finish he says “Yes!” She then says something about the Justice Society, which is as close as you’ll get to a reference to “Black Adam.”
Shazam says that he thought she meant the Justice League (he wants to be on the one with Wonder Woman). He asks why there would be two groups with the word Justice in the title and she says “Because that’s the way words work.” Shazam starts googling synonyms and comes up with different names. At the end he says “The Avengers Society – why do I like that one so much?” And looks into the camera. End scene!
This sequence seems to be the one that was changed to avoid Black Adam (and “Black Adam”). It’s a charming enough scene and, crucially, allows for the possibility that Shazam could continue in the new DC Universe, since Economos and Harcourt are confirmed to remain (there will be more episodes of “Peacemaker” as well as a spin-off featuring Viola Davis’ character Amanda Waller). Given the way the movie is tracking, we’re pretty sure this is the end of the “Shazam!” series too. But you never know …
The second scene involves Mark Strong’s villainous character Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, who is locked away in some otherworldly jail, just like he was at the end of the last movie (now he has a bushy beard and is looking even more deranged). And just like at the end of the last movie, he is visited by a tiny worm with a robotic voice (provided by director Sandberg) named Mister Mind, who promises big things for him. Sivana says that he’s been waiting for the worm to return for two years (meaning he’s literally been waiting since the last movie’s post-credits scene). The worm says that it takes him a long time to move around because he’s just crawling all over the place. (This is pretty funny.) “Just one more thing,” the worm says, and then slithers out of Strong’s cell, leaving him utterly frustrated.
Obviously nothing will come from the second post-credits scene but it’s maybe the smartest, funniest moment in the entire movie and a lovely bit of commentary on the post-credits scene crazy. If they are meant to promise something to come, then this sequence reminds us that they’re really just for LOLs and shouldn’t be taken seriously at all. And that is sort of beautiful.
“Shazam! Fury of the Gods” is in theaters now.