Shazam: Fury Of The Gods Writer Addresses The Film’s Fast And Furious Joke, And How Casting Helen Mirren Made It ‘Weird’

Helen Mirren in Shazam Fury of the Gods
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Dame Helen Mirren is a legend. Anytime that you are able to add her to your movie, you jump at the chance. The Oscar winner (for The Queen) has dabbled in all sorts of genres over the course of her career, recently playing mother to Jason Statham and Luke Evans in the Fast and Furious franchise for several films. Which is why a line from the Shazam: Fury of the Gods trailer always struck us as a little off. There’s a moment when Billy Batson (Zachary Levi) confronts Mirren’s new villain, Hespera, and claims to have a distinct advantage over this Daughter of Atlas because he has “seen all of the Fast and the Furious movies.” 

So, doesn’t that mean that he’d realize that Hespera looks exactly like Queenie Shaw, the character Helen Mirren PLAYS in those Fast & Furious movies?

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The short answer, according to Shazam: Fury of the Gods co-writer Henry Gayden, is, “Yes.” But he tells CinemaBlend during an exclusive interview that the joke was in the script before Mirren came on board the upcoming DC movie, and that he included it as a tip of the cap to co-screenwriter Chris Morgan, who came on Shazam: Fury of the Gods as a contributor and also has a long legacy of writing Fast movies. The way that Gayden describes it, the joke came about like this:

I originally… because, you know, Chris has written many of the Fast movies. So Chris came in and wrote on this movie, and I put that joke in to nod to him. That was a doff of the cap to (him). And then casting began. And then Helen Mirren (said yes). And then we were like, ‘Is this weird?’ (laugh) And then I said, ‘No. It was better.’ I'll say, I think it's better.

It’s a funny joke. And it’s weirdly meta. But it wasn’t until Chris Morgan chimed in that I realized just how deeply the Shazam universe connects to the Fast and Furious saga. Because he told me:

Wouldn’t (Billy) recognize Djimon as one of our villains? That would be a better question, right?

Well, that’s on me for completely forgetting that Djimon Hounsou played Mose Jakande in Furious 7, a mercenary who teams with the Shaw family in opposition to Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel). So yeah, Hespera might even recognize the wizard who gave Billy his powers. Could Shazam be part of the Fast and Furious series?? Shazam: Fury of the Gods is all about family, and we know how much Diesel loves that concept. 

The bottom line is, the joke was a harmless inside joke between two writers that all of a sudden took on new meaning after Helen Mirren agreed to play one of the Daughters of Atlas. It’s funny. All of Shazam: Fury of the Gods is funny. But you’ll be able to find out for yourself when it opens in theaters on March 17. And also, pay attention to our updated list of 2023 Movie Releases to see what else is coming out this month, and beyond.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.