SPOILERS for Shazam! ahead
Fans rushed to the theaters this weekend to enjoy Shazam, the latest DC Comics adaptation set in the DC Extended Universe/Worlds of DC line of films. It's important to specify these days, as Warner Bros. is breaking from the shared universe template set by Marvel Studios to release standalone "Elseworlds" style films not set to continuity. This can be initially confusing to the casual film-goer, who aren't quite sure of how to handle multiple unrelated versions of the Joker up on the big screen.
Thankfully, Shazam is set within the established DC continuity seen in films like Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman, Justice League, and Aquaman. No confusing explanations needed, and it allowed Shazam to sit in a safety net created by previous superhero appearances in that cinematic world. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean everything makes sense in the world of Shazam. The comic character inherently has an incredibly confusing history, having begun publication as Captain Marvel back in 1939 Whiz Comics #2. Following the ceasing of publication and lapsing of the trademark, Marvel Comics jumped on the name and released their own Captain Marvel, with that film adaptation recently hitting theaters as well.
There was always bound to be some confusion with Shazam, even contained within the film. From vague or unresolved plot points to undefined mythologies and things that made the eyebrows raise up, there were a number of moments in the film that are a little confusing. Today we are going to take a look at 25 things that don't make sense about the other Captain Marvel, Shazam.
We are quickly introduced to young Thaddeus Sivana as he encounters the aged Wizard, who is looking for a suitable heir to his power. Sivana, like other children tested over the years, falls to the temptations of the Seven Deadly Sins and fails the test. Wouldn't the Wizard be better served to vet his possible successors a little more thoroughly before dangling the carrot and potentially ruining their lives? Sivana's father's death and lifelong mission to find the Sins falls squarely on the Wizard's poor planning, how many more villains did he create in his search?
Sure, the argument can be made that children are the purest of heart, which is the defining trait for a wielder of the power of Shazam. But as seen with Sivana, children are also easily swayed and manipulated by powerful forces like the Seven Deadly Sins. Wouldn't the Wizard be better suited by bestowing his powers upon a capable, responsible adult with a proven purity, such as character like Superman who exists in this cinematic world? Superman with the power of Shazam, game over.
While we understand Dr. Thaddeus Sivana's desire to take all the power he was denied as a child from Billy Batson, it remains unclear throughout the film just what he plans to do with the power of Shazam. Is it world domination or simply the act of obtaining the power that drives him? Did the Seven Sins grant him power for reasons beyond their own freedom? The rush to create a workable super villain may have left some questions unanswered.
It's easy to see how Dr. Sivana would grow up to become the villain, given the behavior we see towards him from his father and brother. But why do they hate him so much? Before the accident that crippled his father, both members of young Thaddeus' family mock and ridicule him. It may also be important to note that Thad's mother doesn't appear to be in the picture. Could that be related to Thad, possible passing during childbirth, that may have caused the resentment from his family?
Comic fans may know quite a bit about the mystical Rock of Eternity where the wizard Shazam resides, yet the location Billy meets the Wizard in the film is left largely unrevealed or explained. We learn a little about the Rock of Eternity's meaning to the larger world of magic that exists within the DC Universe, but it's unclear if the description is about the Wizard's staff or the location of the thrones. A little bit of exploration here may have done a lot to flush out the mythology of the Rock of Eternity.
Sivana's use of the Seven Deadly Sins during his battles with Shazam failed to reveal anything about the powerful creatures besides them being vaguely indistinct monsters. The comics featured a few different versions of the Seven Deadly Sins, with the most memorable appearing during Geoff Johns and Gary Frank's New 52 reboot of Shazam. Yet the cinematic version of the Sins left their abilities and distinctions undefined, with the brief explanation to Batson by the Wizard not revealing much beyond their vague origin.
The film even included a little bit of Black Adam's backstory when the Wizard discussed the "first champion" picked by the Council of Wizards. The audience was given a brief look at an energy projection as the Wizard made his quick explanation to Billy so it was very difficult to tell if it was Black Adam/Teth-Adam, but it definitely felt like a missed opportunity to cameo the character. Especially considering the apparent big plans for the character's own film and its star, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
As Billy and Freddy bond throughout the movie, we learn of Freddy's heroic worship of some of the DC heroes we've already seen on screen. This includes a replica Batarang from the Batman of Gotham, and his prized possession, a 9mm bullet that had been fired at Superman. However, there is no doubt that these collectible items of memorabilia would be incredibly expensive with the bullet alone costing hundreds of dollars, which is not an easy purchase for any teenager.
When the audience first meets the adult Thaddeus Sivana, he is now a doctor (of something) and has tasked Dr. Lynn Crosby to investigate what she believes to be a "mass hysteria" phenomenon. Through this study, Sivana manages to open a door to the Rock of Eternity using seven mystical symbols, though when Dr. Crosby touches the door, she crumbles to dust. Why did the door destroy her? We see in the movie other people interact with the doors and symbols who don't pass away, so why did it only do her in?
For an all-powerful Wizard, he sure doesn't react much when Sivana makes his play for the orb that contains the power of the Seven Sins. The statues of the Sins do tell Sivana that the Wizard is too weak to stop them, but he doesn't even make an attempt before it's too late. It seems even more concerning given the Wizard's recognition of Thaddeus and knowing how tempted he was by the Sins when he was a child. Weak he may be, but a little prior action may have prevented Sivana's empowerment.
It's a little unclear how Dr. Thaddeus Sivana makes his living or was able to fund the "mass hysteria" studies to find his way back to the Rock of Eternity. We learn that his father and brother are both successful board members of Sivana Industries, but it's clear that Thad is not on the board and unlikely to have access to the kinds of money needed to fund the type of worldwide study and expeditions. Again, what doctorate does he hold? It's hard to try and understand the villain when the audience is left knowing so little about them.
Obviously, the Wizard grants Billy Batson the power of Shazam by saying the magic word, but that power comes from somewhere. It's briefly touched on when Batson first speaks the word and the Wizard calls out the various Gods and abilities that make up the powers of Shazam (The wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, etc.,) but anything beyond that call out is left unknown. How did the Wizard harness or receive the abilities from the various Gods? Did the Council of Wizards also harness other Gods abilities?
Much like the lack of information regarding the origin of the Seven Deadly Sins, the opposing force of the Council of Wizards is completely glossed over as well. Beyond knowing that the Wizard is the last of the Council and they had gathered to keep the Deadly Sins locked away, the audience is left to wonder about the Council, their abilities, and their motivations. Do the seven symbols that allow entry to the Rock of Eternity represent the Council or the Sins?
Following his possession by the Seven Sins, Dr. Sivana is also imbued with powers, though it is at times unclear just what those powers are. He is initially able to harness or resist the lightning of the Wizard, and he later exhibits what appear to be the same powers given to Billy, though combined with the ability to summon the Sins to fight alongside him. But why would the Sins have the same powers as the Wizard? Do the various gods that bestow their abilities to the Wizard and Billy also power the Seven Sins? It's very unclear.
We first see the Orb that traps the Sins as it attempts to tempt young Thaddeus, and we later see it lodge itself in his eye socket as an adult when he returns to the Rock of Eternity. But why? Easy access would make the most sense, but does it benefit Sivana at all? In the New 52 reboot, Sivana's glowing eye occurs when he opens the tomb of Black Adam and is struck by a lightning bolt, scarring his face. His new eye gained the ability to see magic, yet we didn't see any mention of this in the film.
Shazam is full of Easter eggs and comic references that really helped tie the film into the larger cinematic universe without overdoing it. A particular reference comes from Freddy (one of many) after Billy refers to himself as a "caped crusader." Freddy quickly corrects him by saying that's Batman, but from what we've seen of the Batman in previous films, does that moniker really fit? He's a myth or legend to most outside Gotham and a terror to those in the city, not the heroic "caped crusader" like the Adam West version of Batman symbolizes.
Throughout the film, Freddy is presented as a die-hard superhero fanatic who serves as the expert when needed. Yet in all of his super-heroic research, he never grasped the concept of a secret identity? Not only are the YouTube videos dangerous due to anyone with moderate computer skills being able to track down the video uploader, but his own presence in the videos isn't even hidden. Plus, he's running around the mall yelling his superhero brother's real name in front of Sivana? Bad form, Freddy.
Throughout the film, Billy says the magic word a number of times to transform back and forth between his powered self, thanks to a magical bolt of lightning. We also see a number of times that the lightning is used indoors, often to devastating effect to the building Billy happens to be inside. Yet when Billy first learns how to switch back into his normal body, he's in the bedroom of his foster sister Darla, with no smoking hole in the roof. That magic lightning is pretty selective about what it destroys.
Billy Batson's main goal throughout Shazam is to find his mother, who he was separated from when he was a child. He has clearly spent years searching for his mother as evidenced by his notebook full of crossed-out names, which raises a number of questions. Why was he the only one searching? Cops and other organizations exist for just that purpose. Since Billy's mother effectively abandons her child, wouldn't the police want to charge her and then do the same kinds of searching Eugene did on the internet?
Sure, the obvious implication is that the words need to be heard to work, and sound doesn't travel well under water. But what really are the limits of the Wizard's transformative powers here? There have been many comic moments where young Billy Batson is trapped and says his magic word to call down the lightning and free himself. Even a whispered "Shazam" has triggered the transformation in the comics before. So if the audience can hear him say "Shazam," can't the Wizard?
Once the siblings of the Shazam Family realize how to weaken Sivana, Mary helps formulate a plan to draw out the Sins from within Sivana. However, she actually refers to them as the Sins, which leads to the question of how does she know what the evil creatures are called? Did she learn about the Sins from Sivana during the time he kept them captive or was it somehow told to her by Freddy who we can presume learned from Billy? Mary's almost working with more information on the Sins at this point than the audience.
Following Billy's realization that he can share his power with his foster family, they all speak the magic word and transform into older, powered versions of themselves just like Billy. However, the Shazam Family (as they are known in the comics) seem to feature different aspects of Billy's powers. Darla is super fast, Pedro is super strong, Freddy seems to be able to fly the best, and Eugene excels with the lightning. Mary seems to share Billy's mastery of all the powers, so how exactly were the abilities split up, and can some not do what the others can?
While it was great to see the long-rumored Superman cameo, it fell a little flat considering his face was never shown. It's obvious Henry Cavill wasn't available or asked to do a cameo given the uncertain future of many DCEU franchises, and the choice was made to show Superman from a child's perspective. It still felt forced without Cavill, given how much work was put into integrating this film with the rest of the DCEU. Of course, the most likely reason Cavill's face wasn't shown? It was the mustache again.
In the mid-credits scene of Shazam, we see Sivana trapped in a cell at the Rock of Eternity trying to remember the seven symbols in order to escape. There he meets a worm wearing a speaker box who recruits Sivana for his plans, presumably teasing a team-up between the two in the sequel. Comic fans will know this creature to be Mister Mind, one of Shazam's oldest foes in the comics. Unfortunately, casual movie-goers will have little idea just what this little worm means for the future of Shazam.
It is entirely possible some movie-goers were confused by Shazam, as they may have been expecting a rebooted film about a genie that was at one time played by comedian Sinbad that shared the same title. While many people claim to remember this movie it never actually existed, though the comedian did create a spoof version in 2017. This odd phenomenon is known as the "Mandela Effect" and suggests people are left with false memories from alternate realities. Thus, there were no Sinbads or genies in Shazam, at least in this reality.