This article contains spoilers for “Shazam! Fury of the Gods.”
The latest film starring Asher Angel as teenager Billy Batson and Zachary Levi as the adult superhero he magically transforms into when he says the word “shazam” goes out of its way to show this franchise could still have life at DC Studios despite being filmed way before Gunn was named its co-boss.
The film opened over the weekend to a lower-than-expected domestic gross of $30.5 million. But that’s likely not a factor for Gunn or his DC Studios co-head Peter Safran, who will have the ultimate say on when or not these characters return. And a big hint they might still have a future comes in the first of the film’s two post-credits scenes, which features agents Emilia Harcourt (Jennifer Holland) and John Economos (Steve Agee) from the HBO Max series “Peacemaker.” (Friendly reminder, if you’ve never seen the hilariously not-for-kids “Peacemaker” opening credits, treat yourself). The two agents reveal they know Shazam’s secret identity and that he’s got an invitation from Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) to join the Justice … Society. Almost had you there. You won’t see the Justice League again until Gunn says so.
Placing Shazam in a face to face conversation with characters from an ongoing DC series where Gunn was the showrunner for the first season seems like exhibit “A” in proving the hero is sticking around. It also doesn’t hurt that Safran is a producer on both “Shazam!” films.
The second post-credits scene reveals the return of the villain of the first “Shazam!” film, Doctor Sivana (Mark Strong), still in prison and having a conversation with Mister Mind (voiced by director David F. Sandberg), an alien worm with the mind of a genius. Sivana is frustrated he’s been in jail for two years with little contact from Mister Mind, who assures him that he has a plan moving forward that will get him out soon. Would that plan take place in a third “Shazam!” movie under the supervision of Gunn? The post-credits scene featuring Strong could have easily been left on the cutting room floor on Gunn’s orders. But it wasn’t.
The cameo “Shazam!” fans most wanted but didn’t happen: Black Adam. Not a shock considering Dwayne Johnson let it be known his character would not play second fiddle to anyone in the DC universe, including Levi’s Shazam. The two are intense rivals in the comics, and Levi told The Washington Post in 2019 he thought that matchup would be “iconic.” But it looks like they’ll never be on the screen together unless Black Adam is recast. That’s a colossal misstep and shows just how much of a mess DC was before Gunn’s arrival.
Johnson did bring back Henry Cavill as Superman in a “Black Adam” post-credits scene and announced the duo was DC’s next big rivalry, only for Gunn to be named co-head of DC Studios a short time later and quickly confirm Cavill would not be his Superman.
The biggest cameo of this new “Shazam” is Gal Gadot returning for a quick but very meaningful appearance as Wonder Woman. “Fury of the Gods” initially teases her arrival in a dream sequence but you can’t see her face, much like the cheesy Superman “appearance” from the neck down at the end of the first film. But Gadot swoops in and saves the day at the end, leaving fans to wonder if this is the last we’ll ever see of her in this role or if she’ll return. Gunn has made it clear: new Superman, new Batman and new Robin. But new Wonder Woman? Gunn has yet to confirm. And does Gadot even want to continue as Wonder Woman if director Patty Jenkins isn’t involved? Jenkins has gone on the record saying she would have loved to continue with the franchise but it looks like DC wanted to go in another direction.
Ezra Miller’s “The Flash” movie later this summer is supposed to help welcome in Gunn’s new superheroes of the future. That DC reboot could serve as a reason for Gadot’s Wonder Woman and Levi’s Shazam not to return.
Or Gunn could decide his new DC universe will be an amalgam of new and not-so-new superheroes.
This story has been updated.