With the release of Shazam!, Warner Bros. has another superhero hit on its hands, further
proving that you don't have to make your movie part of the MCU to have a good time.
But while the movie's ending is pretty straightforward, there are enough head-scratching and surprising
moments in the movie's latter third that might be in need of some explanation.
Don't sweat it!
That's why we're here.
Let's say the magic words — spoilers ahead! — and explain the ending of Shazam!
If you're not a longtime comic book reader, you may have scratched your head at some of
the superhero names Billy and Freddie came up with over the course of the film.
From Thundercrack to the Red Cyclone, none of them seemed to stick.
By the end of the film, the big dude in red played by Zachary Levi never seemed to actually
get the kind of codename that gets attached to other superheroes.
You'd think after so many attempts at getting him a codename, he'd do better than "Shazam,"
a name he can never say without losing his powers in a bolt of lightning.
So what's the deal?
The short version is that the superhero we meet in Shazam! didn't always go by this name...in
fact, he used to go by Captain Marvel, back when he first debuted in 1939.
"Billy becomes Captain Marvel!"
But years later, while Captain Marvel comics weren't being published, Timely Comics changed
its name to the more familiar Marvel Comics we all know and love.
After Marvel created its own Captain Marvel character in 1967, DC and Marvel Comics had
to come to an agreement about how to navigate the tricky trademarks.
Eventually, in 2011 DC just gave up "Captain Marvel" entirely, and simply renamed the character
So if you were wondering why he never settled on the pretty good name of...
"No, it’s not.
That's not my name!"
...well, now you know why.
The final battle with Doctor Sivana and the Seven Deadly Sins provided one of the most
awesome climactic moments in recent superhero movie history: when Shazam extends his powers
to his foster siblings and creates five more superheroes to save the day.
Now instead of one new superhero joining the DCEU, there are actually six.
If you wondered how and why the movie could justify pulling five super-rabbits out of
its magical hat, there's actually a pretty nice set-up for this final act twist earlier
in the film that you might've missed if you weren't paying close attention.
When Billy encounters the wizard Shazam, the old man yells about the empty chairs behind
him on the Rock of Eternity — chairs that once belonged to his brothers and sisters
in magic, who have all long-since died.
When Billy shares his powers, he's filling five more of those seats...though just who
will wind up sitting in that seventh chair is a question we probably won't have answered
until the next film.
However, since the film seemed to pretty closely follow the plot of DC's New 52 Shazam! miniseries,
there's a good bet that the current run of Shazam! comics DC is publishing will offer
some clues as to the seventh Shazam's identity.
...or, it could be Hoppy, the Marvel Bunny!!
Okay, probably not.
But speaking of hidden identities...
The very last scene before the credits rolled offered up a really fun moment — when Billy's
special guest Superman makes an appearance of his own.
Of course, while the audience saw Superman's blue supersuit, the shot was conspicuously
composed to keep the actor's head out of frame.
Considering that Superman is one of the most popular and important superheroes ever created,
it might've seemed weird to the average moviegoer that the filmmakers went out of their way
to not show their most bankable hero's face.
The answer is that there's some drama going on behind the scenes at Warner Bros. and DC
Films regarding just who is going to wear the big blue suit going forward.
The most recent actor to take the role of Superman, Henry Cavill, is reportedly in talks
with Warner Bros. about whether or not he'll return to play the character in future movies.
But while Cavill's future as Superman is murky, the filmmakers still wanted to have a Superman
cameo in their film, so they did the next-best-thing: they hired a buff dude to put on the suit,
while simply keeping his face out of frame.
The moment in the film lands as pretty funny even if you don't know about Cavill's alleged
contract disputes, and it's even funnier if you do.
And hey, it also meant they didn't have to spend their CGI budget on Cavill's mustache,
so it's a win-win.
One of the reasons Shazam! is so much fun is that it's an exceptionally weird movie.
It's got a magic wizard who lives in a cave, the physical embodiments of religious concepts,
and an unexplained obsession with tigers.
But weirdest of all, it's got a talking, evil worm, who shows up in the film's mid-credits
scene in Doctor Sivana's prison cell, ranting about Seven Realms.
As with so many elements of superhero movies, there was probably a sizeable portion of the
audience that saw this and couldn't be more confused.
Don't feel bad: this little guy is pretty bizarre and obscure, even for comic book fans.
Let's just dig into this thing:
The little talking bug is a longtime Shazam villain named Mister Mind.
He's a talking, super-intelligent worm from another planet.
That planet is sometimes Venus, depending on which comic books you're reading.
He's the founder of a team of supervillains in the comics called the Monster Society of
Evil, which has included members with names like Jeepers and Mr. Banjo, just to name a
It's...it's pretty wild.
As for the Seven Realms, this seems like it refers to a pretty recent addition to the
pages of DC Comics' Shazam! series.
As of the making of this video, the comics are only starting to dig into what these realms
are, or their significance, so if you want to know more about what's likely to happen
in a sequel to Shazam!, start reading.
Shazam! not only seems to have plenty of potential for sequels starring Billy Batson, Freddie
Freeman, and the rest of the Shazam Family, but it also easily connects to the wider DC
Aquaman from 2018 proved that DC movies don't have to be grim and brooding.
But 2019's Shazam! took things to the next level and showed that DC Comics movies can
have strong connections to each other without being bogged down in cinematic universe set-up
and continuity gobbledygook.
Meanwhile, there's tons of set-up for future interactions with other DC heroes.
We already caught a partial glimpse of Shazam teaming up with Superman in the Fawcett Central
The second post-credits scene hints at another possible team up:
"I can't talk to fish!
What can we do with that that's cool?"
"I don't know, maybe command an army of billions in the ocean?"
While Warner Bros. undoubtedly stumbled out of the gate with their early efforts in terms
of overall critical reception and box office performance, Aquaman and Shazam! seem to have
fully righted the ship.
It remains to be seen whether or not the forthcoming slate of DC movies will actually have any
connections to this film.
But if Warner Bros. can find a way to take the lessons of Shazam! and make Superman,
Batman, and the rest of the gang fun again...well, we'll be in for a pretty super batch of movies.
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