Until recently, movies based on DC Comics didn’t do the standard Marvel trick of adding on extra scenes during or at the end of the credits to tease future films or just to throw in some new jokes. Nobody really knew for sure why that was — maybe it was just a DC vs. Marvel thing. But whatever the reason, “Justice League” broke the mold with its mid-credits tease of a Lex Luthor-led supervillain team-up. And then “Aquaman” teased the next film in that series, as does “Shazam” now. DC Comics, it seems, has given in to that trend.
The mid-credits teaser on “Shazam,” though, can be quite a head-scratcher if you don’t know what’s going on. So let’s take a look at what exactly that bonus scene means.
(This is where the spoilers start for the mid-credits tease at the end of “Shazam.”)
The mid-credits scene catches us up with Dr. Sivana (Mark Strong), now in prison after being defeated by Shazam-powered Billy Batson and his foster siblings. He’s gone a little loopy, covering the walls of his cell with the symbols that played such a prominent role in the movie, and absolutely freaking out when his writing utensil breaks.
But we then hear a strange robotic voice wafting into the scene offering Sivana some reassurance that he still has a part to play. “The seven realms are about to be ours,” the voice says as the camera pans over to a weird looking little worm or caterpillar guy sitting on the window of his cell. The end.
That talking caterpillar was one of Shazam’s oldest archenemies — Mister Mind.
Created by Otto Binder and C. C. Beck, Mister Mind was introduced in 1943 in issue #26 of Fawcett Comics’ “Captain Marvel Adventures.” (Back then Shazam was called Captain Marvel, absolutely no relation to the Captain Marvel of Marvel Comics. Read more about that here.) And just like in the movie, he’s a superintelligent, evil-to-the-core, talking caterpillar.
In his original Fawcett Comics appearances, Mister Mind was a mutant worm from another planet whose powers include telepathy and the ability to spin nearly-indestructible silk cocoons at incredible speeds — which he uses to encase his enemies. Because he’s so tiny, he uses a machine called a “talk box” to communicate with larger beings — that was the thing hanging around his neck in the “Shazam” mid-credits scene — and he wears glasses because he’s nearsighted.
His main superpower is his incredible intelligence, which gives him superior strategic and organizing abilities and makes him a natural leader. Those abilities were front and center in his original appearances during a two-year storyline in “Captain Marvel Adventures” revolving around a group called The Monster Society of Evil.
See, being extremely evil, Mister Mind first came to earth basically to stir up trouble during World War II — really, he’s basically a Nazi from outer space — and to do so he assembled a team — the Monster Society — made up of Captain Marvel’s (AKA Shazam’s) wartime villains.
The Monster Society of Evil is notable as one of the earliest supervillain team-ups in the history of comics — and possibly the very first one made up of villains who were previously defeated by a comic book hero. It has had dozens of lineup changes over the years — more on that below — but the original membership included Captain Marvel enemies like Captain Nazi (a Nazi warrior created by Hitler), and yes, Dr. Sivana.
The society battled Captain Marvel over the next few years until they were finally defeated in 1945’s “Captain Marvel Adventures” #46. Mister Mind was arrested and put on trial, Captain Marvel/Shazam served as the prosecutor, and after it came out that MM had murdered hundreds of thousands of people, his own defense attorney quit. Mister Mind was subsequently executed via electric chair, and his body was stuffed and put into a museum. Damn, the 1940s were hardcore.
That was the end of Mister Mind during the original Fawcett Comics run of “Captain Marvel” titles. However, after DC Comics revived Shazam in the early 1970s, Mister Mind was brought back too, and since then he’s been a frequent thorn in Shazam’s side — and occasionally one of the most powerful beings in the DC Universe.
As for that “Seven Realms” thing Mister Mind mentioned in the mid-credits scene? That’s a reference to a very recent concept from the comics called the Seven Magiclands.
Basically, the idea is that the Rock of Eternity — the lair Billy Batson and his family get to access when they’re powered up with Shazam abilities — is a nexus point linking together all the worlds where powerful magic thrives. These include “Earthlands,” the main Earth of the DC Universe, as well as some weirdly-named places like “Funlands,” “Darklands,” and “Wildlands” where, in current DC Continuity, Mister Mind is rumored to come from.
This is where all those doors that we saw earlier — you know, when the kids opened that one door and saw some alligators playing cards. “Shazam” was already setting up this Seven Realms idea, and this Mister Mind tease for the next movie tells us they’re planning to go full speed ahead into that whole madness. We can’t wait.