The brand new Shazam! trailer that debuted at San Diego Comic-Con has disproved a popular fan theory about Billy Batson and Justice League. Director David F. Sandberg's superhero fantasy ushers in a brighter, more fun DC movie universe, continuing the marked change in tone that began in last year's superhero team-up. Shazam! will also give fans the youthful POV of kids who grew up in Zack Snyder's ominous DCU when 14-year old Billy Batson (Asher Angel) gains the magical power to transform into the superhero Shazam (Zachary Levi).
Unfortunately, Justice League wasn't the monster hit DC Films had hoped it would be, and many pointed the blame at the obvious reshoots by Joss Whedon that altered Zack Snyder's original tone. One of those reshot scenes became the opening of the film, where Superman is briefly interviewed by an unseen boy on a cell phone camera. However, the upcoming release of Shazam! sparked a popular online fan theory that the offscreen boy was Billy Batson himself, explaining the inspirations for Shazam.
The theory argued that DCEU Batson, like his comic book counterpart, was a boy reporter, so it's natural he would interview the Man of Steel. Also, meeting Superman would be what inspires Batson when he later gains the magical power to become the World's Mightiest Mortal.
The new trailer refutes that fan theory altogether. The way Shazam! is structured, Billy Batson has never met Superman and doesn't even care about superheroes before meetin the Wizard (also called Shazam). When he's introduced, Billy is an orphan delinquent who has run away from foster homes in six counties. He's placed in a new foster family where he meets Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer), a disabled boy his age who is an expert on the real-life superheroes who exist in their world. Freddy even has a collection of Justice League merchandise like a true fanboy.
In fact, after Billy is transformed into Shazam and he's desperately trying to figure out what he can and should do, he turns to Freddy for help and answers specifically because Freddy is the only person he knows "who knows anything about this caped crusader stuff." This is also an interesting line; despite Superman, Batman, et al being real, it seems like most people in the world simply carry on with their lives as best they can. This is different from what fans saw in Spider-Man: Homecoming where the Avengers were a regular subject of teen discussion. Billy clearly was ignorant of superheroes before he suddenly became one - but Freddy certainly isn't.
So, if Billy wasn't the boy talking to Superman in Justice League's worst scene, could it have been Freddy holding the cellphone camera? Did the Man of Steel save Freddy's life in the past, which turned him into a superfan (was this also the reason Freddy became disabled)? After all, Freddy pointedly tells Billy that "heroes fly" because Superman can fly and that's who Freddy believes is the ultimate hero.
Shazam!'s trailer rightly focused on introducing Billy and his heroic journey, but the film should also shed light on Freddy's backstory, so perhaps he could be eventually revealed as having met the Man of Steel after all, giving credence to the fan theory - but just in a different way.
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- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020