6. Shazam's 'Secret Spell'
Remember the mirror we mentioned earlier, visible in the Rock of Eternity and bearing the face of a being named Francesca? In the comic upon which this Shazam! origin is based, Francesca takes it upon herself to urge Billy to do the right thing (appearing to him in reflections om everyday objects, even puddles). All the while trying to make him see that the Wizard granted him a "secret spell" he must eventually unlock.
Since the movie does away with Francesca, the Wizard is given similar dialogue hinting that Billy must "open his heart" so he may share his magic. In the comics, the spell is literally spoken as "Family is what it can be, not what it should be." While the movie doesn't make it a literal spell cast, it does make it the theme of the entire story.
5. The Shazam Family, in Live-Action
What's better than a kid who can transform into a demigod superhero by uttering a magical word? How about an entire family of kids transforming into heroes? It's the moment that audiences will be talking about for years to come, not only because of the surprise and impact, but because of just how well it recreates the very same moment from the New 52 comic.
From their costumes to their powers, the superhero versions of Freddy, Darla, Pedro, Eugene, and Mary are taken straight from the printed page. In fact, the movie takes their specialization of powers and goes even further. Pedro remains the strongest (stronger than Shazam), Darla the quickest, and Eugene has a gift for using electricity (in the comics, he can 'talk' to technology). But in the movie version, it's only Freddy who can fly. A poetic touch, considering he would "give anything" to be able to walk or run, let alone soar.
4. "Say My Name... No, Not 'Billy Batson'!"
The arrival of the Shazam Family may be the emotional payoff of the entire movie, seeing Darla become a hero, Pedro become strong, Freddy fly, and more. But it follows the emotional climax of the film when the foster siblings go "all hands on deck" and grab hold of the Wizard's staff to gain their powers. It's also here where one of the most subtle jokes lands for comic fans.
Billy instructs the kids to do as he did, and "say my name" to have the lightning give them powers, too. But when the kids utter Billy's name, he corrects them, explaining it's Shazam's name that has the magic. In the original comics Billy turned Freddy Freeman into a hero first. As "Captain Marvel, Jr." Freddy got his powers from Billy indirectly, meaning he actually would need to shout "Captain Marvel!" to gain his own. In hindsight, it's a weird hierarchy, so the movie is right to say so.
3. Justice League Actor Do-Overs
Seeing Adam Brody appear as the "grown up" version of Freddy Freeman is worth the price of admission alone, as millions of viewers suddenly remember who actor Jack Dylan Grazer's comedy reminds them of. But the transformation actually gives Brody his second chance to join the DC Universe--and he's not alone.
Back when director Frank Miller was trying to get his Justice League: Mortal movie off the ground and filming in Australia, Brody was already on set ready to play The Flash. The film has the plug pulled before cameras could start rolling, which also meant that DJ Cotrona--who plays the muscle bound adult version of Pedro--didn't get to play Superman, either. Oh well, second time is the charm.
2. The Superman (Theme) Surprise
Most die-hard fans caught a hint or two of Superman's cameo in the final scene before the movie officially released. And while the actor in the suit is never shown, there are a few details to note. For starters, the Superman suit has been changed from Justice League and Batman v Superman, featuring more red around the hips and 'belt' than when Henry Cavill wore it.
But the bigger treat for fans is the introduction of John Williams' classic theme song for the Man of Steel. Director David F. Sandberg maintained that he didn't use the music cue during the toy battle between Batman and Superman as a leaked trailer suggested. But he does use it in this final beat, although subtle enough to miss.
1. Mr. Mind's Post-Credits Scene
Readers will have to forgive us, since we're still trying to process the fact that the Shazam! movie not only ends with the introduction of Mr. Mind, master mental manipulating caterpillar... but that it keeps completely faithful to the comics. Right down to the voice box he uses to communicate with his prey--we mean his partner, Dr. Sivana. How did he manage to escape the Rock of Eternity and make it to Sivana's prison cell moving at the pace of a regular caterpillar? Don't ask. Because seeing him speak through a robotic speaker is incredible. But getting to hear it? That is glorious.
Those are all the Easter Eggs, comic book references, and secret inside jokes fans are likely to miss that WE could spot in Shazam! But if you found some that even we failed to spot, be sure to share them on the comments.
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
- The Batman (2021) release date: Jun 25, 2021
- Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) release date: Feb 07, 2020
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020