Warning: SPOILERS ahead for Shazam!
Shazam! features a Superman cameo, but who plays the Man of Steel in the new DCEU movie? Directed by David F. Sanberg, the film introduces the latest superhero in the Warner Bros. franchise played by Zachary Levi alongside Asher Angel who portrays his alter-ego, young Billy Batson. While the film primarily has a contained narrative, lots of references to the bigger universe are peppered throughout the film leading to a surprise appearance by Superman.
Billy's foster brother, Freddy is particularly fascinated with superheroes long before he and the rest of his foster siblings became one by the end of the film. He collects various items linked to Batman and Superman including a Batarang and a bullet that supposedly bounced off of Clark Kent's body. Unfortunately, Billy lost the latter, after stealing and accidentally dropping it down the street drain, but given his newfound fame as Shazam, he's able to make up for it to Freddie by calling a small favor from Superman himself.
During Shazam!'s ending scene, Billy (who's transformed into Shazam) drops by the school to join Freddy during lunch, and with him is a "friend" - Superman, to his and the whole school's surprise. The sequence only shows the Man of Steel from the neck down with a slightly different suit from the last time fans saw him in Justice League. And considering that the film intentionally left the character's face out of the frame, this begs the question, who plays Superman in Shazam!?
Rumblings of Henry Cavill's Superman in Shazam! was the talk of the town last year, but there was no official information regarding it whatsoever. The film's initial plan penned by screenwriter Darren Lemke has always included a Man of Steel appearance and it has stuck even after a rewrite by Henry Gayden. Cavill was in discussions to do the cameo as part of his contract renegotiations to continue playing the iconic DC superhero, but sadly, according to Sandberg, plans for his cameo fell through and the man in the blue and red suit is instead Zachary Levi's stunt double.
It's unclear why the camps didn't reach an agreement, but it's more about his future as the character, rather than doing the cameo itself. There have been rumors about Cavill wanting more creative control over his DCEU appearances moving forward particularly in the much-clamored Man of Steel 2, not to mention a pay raise. Warner Bros. wasn't keen on delivering on these requests ending their negotiations. Since then, they haven't found a middle ground, with the actor's future with the franchise remaining bleak. No official word yet whether he's definitively in or out in the role.
Meanwhile, unknown of what's really happening behind-the-scenes, speculations claiming that the film may have a Superman appearance but with a different actor made the rounds online early this year and was heavily debated by the public. But it turns out, it has merit. Once Sandberg learned that they can't iron things out with Cavill's planned involvement, he and his team immediately started tinkering on other ideas on how to incorporate Superman without the need for the actor to appear. They ended up with the tease in Shazam!'s final scene in which the director said that he personally prefers compared to the original plan regarding Superman's appearance. While fans didn't get to see the superhero's face, the sequence effectively reinforces the idea that Shazam exists in the same world as the Justice League with the potential of him perhaps joining World's Finest down the road - something that Levi has repeatedly expressed eagerness to do. It also gives Warner Bros. the option to either recast the role or bring back Cavill if they come to an agreement about his contract
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
- 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
- The Batman (2021) release date: Jun 25, 2021
- DC Super Pets (2022) release date: May 20, 2022
- The Suicide Squad (2021) release date: Aug 06, 2021
- Aquaman 2 (2022) release date: Dec 16, 2022