We keep getting more and more teases regarding Tawky Tawny in Shazam!, but could the talking tiger actually be in the DC movie? For a time, there was confusion as to whether or not Shazam! would be set in the DCEU. There was talk of it existing under a separate banner and in a different universe that would allow the film to be goofier and more fantastical. The closer the film gets, however, the more connections to Batman, Superman, and the Justice League we've seen thanks to set photos and casting news. But there's one aspect of the Shazam lore that would benefit from the character's solo movie standing on its own.
A recent image of Shazam's costume revealed a tiger pin, which won't mean much to the average moviegoer. But for comic fans, it's clearly a nod to Tawky Tawny. The zany character would seem unlikely to fit into the traditionally more grounded DCEU, but the pin has hardly been the only nod. Various set photos and videos have revealed toy tigers - each member of the Marvel family is holding a stuffed tiger from EW's Shazam live stream - and even the director has teased the character. While one reference would simply be an Easter egg, the repeated allusions beg the question of whether Tawky Tawny has some kind of future on the big screen.
Who is Tawky Tawny?
The first version of Tawky Tawny debuted in 1947's Captain Marvel Adventures #79 as an anthropomorphic tiger who walked, talked, and had a dapper dress sense. Given it was the Golden Age of Comics, not much explanation was necessary for the surreal character, but attempts were made over the years to give him a backstory. Post-Crisis on Infinite Earths, the character was the result of magic transforming a popular kids toy into the character. But The New 52 did something that may work far better in the movies.
Much of the DCEU draws from the New 52 version of characters, and Shazam seems to be the same given the costume he's wearing in set photos so far. That take on Billy Batson gave him many of the foster siblings who have been cast so far, who eventually are given some of Shazam's powers. Likewise, this new version of the character befriends and actual tiger from a zoo in one of his adventures. Unable to talk or wear clothes, this take on the Tawny seems much more likely for the DCEU.
Can Tawky Tawny Actually Work in the DCEU?
The original incarnation of Tawny seems impossible for the DCEU as we know it. Then again, Shazam! has been compared to Guardians of the Galaxy by star Zachary Levi. That film series has involved a talking raccoon, tree, and duck, so a tiger doesn't seem to crazy. But the cosmic setting of those movies makes the explanation easier as they're merely aliens. Shazam! will involve magic, but we don't know how deep into it the film will get. If DC really wants to outdo Marvel (and even Deadpool), however, a purely absurdist movie would certainly be unique.
It seems almost certain Tawky Tawny will appear as a stuffed animal. Set photos showed Batman and Superman toys in Shazam! along with plush tiger. This could mean a nod to Tawny being an existing toy will appear in the movie. From there, magic could transform him like in the comics, but it still seems like the furthest the film would conceivably go is to give Shazam an actual tiger as a sidekick. The Walking Dead brought Ezekiel's companion from page to screen, and that's a far more grounded world than the one Shazam! will inhabit. We'll have to wait a bit longer to know the full extent of Tawky Tawny's involvement in Shazam!. It seems unlikely that Shazam! will incorporate the character as a full blown CGI creation, even less likely that an actual tiger will be used, and the abundance of Easter eggs already seen would suggest that the spirit of Tawny will be well and alive, but there's no reason as of yet to anticipate a physical manifestation.
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019