Shazam! heads to theaters this weekend and while it may not be as big of a blockbuster as Marvel heavyweights Avengers: Endgame or even Captain Marvel, the newest superhero movie from the DC world is undeniably more fun than other recent DC movies like Batman Vs Superman or Justice League. If anything, this movie has more of an Aquaman vibe, but ten times more fun. So, while you’ll probably love the hilarious one-liners and thrilling action, you may find yourself a little confused by the ending of the movie, specifically the surprise cameo made by a legendary superhero. What does this big cameo mean in terms of the larger Shazam! universe? We offer up our best explanation.
At the end of the movie, after Billy has turned his foster siblings into a superhero team, Freddy is at lunch when suddenly Billy shows up in his Shazam form, loudly proclaiming how he considers Freddy a close friend who taught him everything he knows. It’s a callback to an earlier in the movie when Billy’s foster brother Freddy tries to hold off a few of his bullies by saying that he is friends with Shazam and that the hero will even be joining him for lunch the next day. The bullies mock Freddy, sarcastically asking if Superman will be joining him for dessert.
Billy ends up not showing up for lunch as he is busy Shazam-ing all over the city, causing the two brothers and best friends to have a big fight. Still, it seems like Billy makes it up to his brother by showing up to their cafeteria as Shazam but he then takes it one step further by revealing that another friend will be joining them and a man approaches the table who appears to be none other than Superman. We never get to see his face but he is wearing Superman’s famous super suit and based on everyone’s shocked reaction, it doesn’t seem like this is an impersonator.
This ending opens up a lot of big question about Shazam’s role in the DC Cinematic Universe. Does he exist in the same movie world as Superman, Wonder Woman, and the rest of the Justice League? In the DC Comics, Shazam/Captain Marvel certainly exists in the same universe as Superman and even fought Supe on more than one occasion.
It hasn’t been officially confirmed but it certainly seems that way based on the film’s ending. The case for Shazam’s inclusion in the DCEU is strengthened by the film’s post-credits scene, which makes a pretty clear reference to the existence of Aquaman.
In the scene, it shows Billy (as Shazam) and Freddy testing out some of Shazam’s powers, something they did to hilarious results earlier in the movie. What power are they testing out? Whether or not Shazam can talk to fish and while he fools Freddy for a minute, Billy ultimately reveals that he cannot talk to sea-dwelling creatures. Freddy is disappointed but Billy defiantly asks who would want that stupid power anyway, at which point Freddy points to the shirt he is wearing that has the Aquaman logo. Beyond being a solid roast of Aquaman, it once again confirms that Shazam! takes place in the same universe as The Justice League, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman.
In that case, why not have Henry Cavill show his perfectly symmetrical face in order to drum up fanfare? We, of course, don’t actually know and it’s very possible that there were scheduling conflicts. But considering that Ben Affleck is reportedly being replaced as the DCEU’s dark knight and Wonder Woman and Aquaman are the clear rising stars of DC, is it possible they declined to have Cavill appear because they aren’t entirely sure he’ll be their man of steel moving forward? Again, this is only speculation and DC even seemed to deny Cavill’s exit earlier this year. But perhaps the faceless Superman cameo reveals that the DCEU might be looking to recast Superman in the long term.
Afterall, it’s happened before.