It’s safe to say that Shazam was a major success for DC Comics and Warner Bros. Not only did it make over $51 million in its opening weekend, but it has received widespread praise from both critics and fans alike, with a 91% certified fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes and an A CinemaScore. It’s easy to see why Warner Bros. is already setting up a sequel to the film. The movie told the story of Billy Bastion, a young foster kid searching for a true family after bouncing from home to home, who is chosen by the great wizard Shazam to become the champion of the world. By speaking the wizard’s name, Billy becomes the superhero Shazam, and must navigate this new superpower world alongside his new foster brother Freddy and his new family, all while a bitter and rejected former candidate for the wizard’s champion harnesses the seven deadly sins to destroy Shazam for good.
During the course of the film, in the midst of all of the superhero training, family drama and destructive battles between Shazam and the evil Dr. Sivana, eagle eyed fans may have noticed several different instances in which the film paid a tribute to someone connected to the original Shazam comics or perhaps teasers for future films in the DCEU. Whether it was a weapon used by the world’s greatest detective or a major villain’s tease, this films held a lot of hidden things that only true fans would understand. That’s why today we are going to explore 24 of the best hidden details found in Shazam that only true fans would have caught.
24 Fawcett High School
Many casual comic book fans may have seen Shazam this past weekend and just assumed it was always a DC Comics property. Yet those fans would be wrong, as the character’s origins can be found in the pages of a long forgotten comic book publisher from the 40’s. Die hard fans of the character of Billy Bastion will recognize this name as Fawcett was the name of the original comic book publisher (Fawcett Comics) that published the “Captain Marvel” comics back in the 1940s and '50s.
23 C.C. Beck
One of the big factors about Billy Bastion’s story in this film and to do with the search for his mother, whom he had been separated from as a young kid. During the course of the film, Billy learns that his father’s name is C.C. Bastion. Fans of the original comics may recognize this name as it is a reference to C.C. Beck, the very popular and well known artist who co-created “Captain Marvel” with Bill Parker back in the day and drew many of the original character’s adventures in the comics.
22 Mrs. Glover
Early on in the film, Billy has a run in with his longtime social worker, Mrs. Glover. She has been in charge of the child during his long stint in the foster care system. In the New 52 reboot of the character in which Billy was made into a foster child (written by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank,) the character made her debut, albeit as a much more selfish and money-hungry older woman who didn’t like Billy at all, and the two often had a contentious relationship.
21 Tawky Tawny
One thing that the film teased but did not include in was the larger than life, anthropomorphic tiger named Tawny Tawny. In the comics, the tiger is a longtime friend to Billy Bastion and later the entire Marvel heroic family. In the comics, he is even given a bit of Shazam’s power during a fight with Black Adam, Shazam’s greatest foe. Yet recent comics have made the tiger more realistic.
Yet in the film, the character does not appear in it’s original form, instead showing up in Easter eggs when a young Billy is obsessed with a stuffed animal tiger on the day he gets separated from his mother, and later during his battle with Dr. Sivana he comforts a child with her father by handing her the same stuffed tiger.
20 DC Hero’s Shirts
One of the best parts of the film is the introduction of Billy’s foster brother/friend Freddy, who is as young disabled kid who’s obsession with superheroes helps him guide Billy during his transition into a hero. His obsession includes wearing shirts with Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman’s official symbols, as well as Aquaman’s logo. This little nod to the larger DCEU is fun to see, as it’s not one of those Easter eggs that is too serious, and it also hints at the larger DCEU fandom as well.
19 The “Big” Keyboard
A big comparison the film makes is to the classic Tom Hanks film BIG, in which a young kid makes a wish to a Zoltar machine to be big, and wakes up as an adult. In the superhero film, at one point when Billy first battles Sivana, the two end up crashing into a toy store, where Billy accidentally steps onto a giant keyboard on the ground that people can walk on. This is a direct reference to the film BIG, where Tom Hanks and his boss at the toy company end up performing a musical number on the same keyboard.
18 “BIG” Carnival
It’s easy to see why Shazam took such a huge inspiration from the film Big, as the references just keep pouring in. Another reference to the Tom Hanks classic film has to be the carnival. During Shazam, the hero and his foster family end up at a massive carnival, where the final battle with Sivana begins.
In the film BIG, the young Josh Baskin (young version of Tom Hanks,) attends a carnival like this and this is where he finds the fortune teller machine Zoltar, where he makes his wish to be “big”.
17 “Holy Moley”
One biggest and most hilarious references the film makes comes during one of the early fights between Sivana and Shazam, in which the hero makes the comment, “Holy Moley.” This is a direct reference to the days when the hero was known as “Captain Marvel.” During those days, the hero often made comical and very PG comments like this during his adventures, making this a fun throwback to the hero’s origins. He also makes use of phrases like “Gee Whiz.”
16 Galaxy Broadcasting System
During the course of the film, Dr. Sivana at one point finds the connection between Freddy, Billy, and Shazam during a television report that shows Freddy and Shazam arguing, giving the villain the clue he needs to determine the hero’s true identity. The station making this broadcast is shown to be Galaxy Broadcasting, a reference to a TV station of the same name in DC Comics. Not only did Clark Kent, Superman’s alter ego, go to work there during the '70s, but the station was created by none other than legendary artist Jack Kirby during his time at DC Comics in the 70’s.
15 Rocky Movies
It wasn’t only the film’s plot that took inspiration from a very popular film back in the day. It was the film’s location as well. The film primarily takes place in the city of Philadelphia. During the course of the film, Shazam and Freddy both end up at the top of the infamous steps climbed in the film Rocky by the titular character during his training. During these scenes in Shazam, you can also here the infamous Rocky theme song (Eye of the Tiger by Survivor.)
14 Denny Bus Lines
One thing that casual fans may take for granted is that the films wouldn’t be possible without the writers who brought the characters to life in the comics to begin with. During the film, fans will notice that the name of a bus in the film says “Denny Bus Lines.”
What casual fans might not know, however, is that this is a direct reference to Denny O’Neil, one of the most famous and legendary writers at DC Comics. When DC first got the rights to publish Shazam comics after the character faded from Fawcett Comics, it was O’Neil who wrote the series with C.C. Beck drawing it.
13 The Shazam Family
Now this is a big spoiler for the film, so beware, but during the final battle of the film, Billy shares his power as Shazam with his foster family, turning all of the kids into superpowers heroes themselves. This is an iconic moment from the comics, as Freddy finally becomes the hero he’s dreamed of, Mary takes the mantel of Mary Marvel, and the rest of the family gains their own powers as they represent one of the strengths of Shazam. The original family in the comics was known as the Marvel Family, where Mary was Mary Marvel and Freddy was Marvel Jr.
12 Batman V Superman (TOY EDITION)
It appears DC isn’t afraid to make fun of itself, as in the film they make a direct reference to the now infamous film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. In that film, the two heroes went head to head in battle as they misunderstood one another’s intentions, with Batman’s mistrust leading him to nearly take the Man of Steel out permanently. In this film, Shazam battles Dr. Sivana as a young boy in the city watches on, playing with a Batman and Superman toy fighting one another at the same time.
11 Mister Mind
One of the biggest Easter eggs came in the form of Mister Mind. During the film, a small worm creature was seen in the home of Shazam (known as the Rock of Eternity.) During the film, nothing about the worm seemed suspicious, until the film’s first end credits scene. During that time, Sivana sits in a jail cell desperately trying to find the right sequence of codes to return to the seven deadly sins and regain his power, but to no avail. That’s when the worm appears in his cell, speaking to him telepathically and introducing the infamous comic book villain Mister Mind, an alien worm that battles Shazam often in the comics.
10 Freddy’s Superhero Shrine
When Billy first arrives at his new foster home and meets Freddy, he is shown the shrine the young man keeps as a dedication to the superheroes of the world. In that shrine, not only can you see multiple articles hanging on the walls, but those articles actually confirm the film’s place in the DCEU timeline, with clips of Superman’s battle with Zod and then his fight with Batman both appearing on the wall. This confirms Shazam is taking place in the current timeline of the DCEU.
9 Batman’s Batarang
During the course of the film, Freddy shows Billy several collectibles he’s gathered over the years relating to the heroes of the DC Universe. One of those items is a replica of Batman’s Batarangs. These weapons are used often by the Caped Crusader, and ironically despite being a replica, the weapon is used against Sivana in the film, first as a distraction, and later when Billy uses his power to give it a magical punch, stabbing the villain in the process.
8 Superman’s Bullet
Another one of Freddy’s most prized superhero collectibles has to be the certified smashed bullet that was shot at Superman and that he deflected. It’s a major call to Superman, who is not only the biggest hero of DC Comics, but is also compared a lot to Shazam himself in terms of power, including their ability to rebound bullets shot at them. Later on in the film Billy confirms his identity after his transformation by showing Freddy the bullet, which he had stolen early in the film.
7 Superman Cameo
One of the long rumored cameo’s fans were expecting finally came to fruition at the end of the film, when Shazam showed up to the high school to have lunch with Freddy and establish his name to the rest of the school. When he did this, he surprised Freddy with a special guest, who turned out to be Superman himself. The ironic part of it all, however, came when Superman was only shown from the neck down, never seeing his face. This is because Henry Cavill had a scheduling conflict and couldn’t make it to film the cameo. This has led to speculation regarding his contract with Warner Bros. and his future in the DC Universe as Superman.
6 Aquaman’s Post Credits Scene
This is a funny scene as its the final post credits scene in the film. During the entirety of the film, Freddy tested Billy’s newfound heroic persona by trying to determine what powers he had. In the final credits scene, Freddy tries to get Shazam to talk to a goldfish they own, leading to a funny exchange about how lame a power it is to talk to fish, a long running joke about the aquatic hero Aquaman. Although funny, I think Jason Mamoa’s Aquaman might prove talking to fish is a bit cooler than it sounds.
One of the more surprising and funny cameo’s comes in the form of a blink and you’ll miss it scene. During Shazam’s first scenes, we see police officers responding to a breaking and entering crime reported by Billy. Inside the pawn store, we see the officer’s point of view, and in that moment if fans look at the lower left side on a store’s shelf, fans will see the infamous evil doll Annabelle, waiting for her next victim to purchase her. This demonic doll has a double meaning, as it’s not only a popular villain in a horror series, but is also the star of the film series from producer James Wan, who also directed Aquaman.
4 A Father’s Sin
During the film, Sivana’s backstory is revealed as it is shown the young boy rejected by the wizard Shazam in the '70s had a terrible father who berated him at every turn, who was also the head of a major company. The actor who played his father was none other than John Glover, who played another famous DC villain’s rich businessman father, Lionel Luthor. Lionel was the father of Superman villain Lex Luthor, and was arguably instrumental in the young man’s descent into villainy on the show Smallville.
3 Arion Acknowledgement
In the film, when Shazam and Freddy are testing out the hero’s abilities, fans may have seen some graffiti with the name Arion sprayed into the half-pipe where the hero is practicing flying. The name may ring true to some fans, as it is the name given to one of Atlantis’s former rulers and a great sorcerer. It has been rumored that the former king may return as a villain in future Aquaman films. His connection to magic also holds significance, as it ties Shazam and Aquaman together in a very unique and unexpected way.
During the beginning of the film, when Billy sits in the office of his social worker, the kid sees a lot of badges sitting around the woman’s office. One of those badges bears an awfully familiar look, and that’s because it is a direct resemblance and reference to none other than Watchmen.
While not a DC Universe comic necessarily, it was published by the comic book company and is now being integrated into the main comics. While a fun Easter egg, it is unlikely that the most powerful hero of that comic, Mr. Manhattan, will show up to vaporize everyone anytime soon. Although how cool would it be if they were teasing a Doomsday Clock storyline for the DCEU?
1 Black Adam
The biggest Easter egg in the film has to be none other than Black Adam. When explaining to Billy who he was and why he was bringing the boy to him, the wizard Shazam shows Billy a previous event in the past where he and the council of wizards bestowed power to someone who used it for revenge, unleashing the seven deadly sins.
This is a direct reference to Black Adam, a former champion of the wizard who used his power to destroy the slavers who took him and his family into slavery centuries ago in the kingdom of Khandaq. The character is supposed to be played by none other than Dwayne Johnson in a solo film, and could become an antagonist to Billy Bastion in the future films of his series as well.