Long overshadowed by Batman, Superman and other better-known comic book compatriots, DC’s Shazam finally gets his own movie 80 years after he leapt off comic book pages. In the movie, Asher Angel plays 14-year-old Billy Batson, who transforms into a chiseled, adult-sized, genuinely stoked-to-do-good superhero (played by “Chuck” star Zachary Levi). All he needs to do is say the name of the wizard who gave him his powers: “Shazam!”
Since the release of the first trailer, fans have kept their eyes open for references to the larger DC Extended Universe. Here’s a spoiler-free guide to the Easter eggs you’ll see when SHAZAM! comes to AMC on April 5. The movie has even more than these, but we’ve left a few out as to not reveal story secrets.
The Man of Steel
Billy Batson’s foster brother, Freddy (played by Jack Dylan Grazer, of Stephen King adaptation IT), is a huge superhero fanboy. He has a collection of newspapers tracing Superman’s journey, including headlines of Superman’s return in JUSTICE LEAGUE, Time magazine coverage on his battle with Zod in MAN OF STEEL and a Daily Planet editorial asking what Superman’s agenda really is. There’s even a Lex Luthor name-drop. But the coolest of all of Freddy’s memorabilia is undoubtedly the dented bullet he keeps in a plastic bag, alongside a certificate of authenticity proclaiming that the projectile once bounced off Superman’s chest.
In the first trailer, we see one of Freddy’s more deadly bits of memorabilia: a batarang. Fans were also quick to spot the Batman logo on Freddy’s shirt. In the most recent trailer, Shazam literally uses Batman as a weapon, picking up a Batman toy and throwing it at the villainous Dr. Sivana (Mark Strong) while yelling, “Get him, Batman!”
Eagle-eyed viewers will also spot one of Batman’s old logos, plus Cyborg action figures and Wonder Woman-branded skateboards for sale. Speaking of …
Freddy’s fandom is not confined to the four walls of his bedroom. When he and Shazam explore the city, trying out all of the hero’s new powers, we can see Freddy sporting a T-shirt with the Wonder Woman logo. Does she get residuals from that, or … ?
Freddy loves his logo tees. When we are first introduced to him, he’s sporting a shirt decorated with the Aquaman logo, which you get a partial view of in the image above.
This one is for more die-hard fans. When Shazam falls flat after testing his flying powers in a skatepark, we can see the word “Arion” scrawled in graffiti on the halfpipe. In the DC comics, Arion is a hero from Atlantis, who debuted in the 1982 comic “Warlord #55.” He hasn’t made any movie appearances in Warner Bros.’ DC movies — yet. Hey, there is an AQUAMAN sequel coming up!
When they’re not fighting bad guys (or, uh, fighting bad guys and providing moral support, respectively), Billy and Freddy attend Fawcett Central High School. Fawcett Comics was the original publisher of comics featuring Shazam, before DC purchased the rights to the character, back when he was called Captain Marvel. (It’s a long story.)
Who Watches the Watchmen?
Notice anything in this scene from early in the film, where a social worker informs Billy he’ll be joining a new foster family? See those little yellow smiley faces? Director David F. Sandberg has confirmed that those are a reference to the Watchmen. The smiley face is a recurring motif in the seminal DC Comics series, which was previously adapted into film by MAN OF STEEL and BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE director Zack Snyder.
SHAZAM! is Sandberg’s third feature film and his first foray into the world of superheroes. His first two films, LIGHTS OUT and ANNABELLE: CREATION (which is part of the ever-popular CONJURING universe) were both horror. Last year, Sandberg revealed on Twitter that a character from LIGHTS OUT has a cameo in SHAZAM! Want to find out who?
Head to AMC to see SHAZAM! on April 5.