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One of the most fun parts of comic book movies is the way they build a cohesive universe and make both explicit and oblique references to the rest of the film franchise. Shazam! doesn't appear to have many direct references to the Justice League, but the fact that it is part of the same universe meant it came with some restrictions. While I was visiting the set of Shazam! last year, director David F. Sandberg spoke about a scene in the film where Zachary Levi and Mark Strong's characters end up in a fight in a toy store that includes shots of action figures of DC characters. According to Sandberg, some DC toys were off-limits...
No, it was sort ... No, they're all sort of real DC toys that are in there. I mean, some were like, 'Hey, you can't have that character, because that character's not in the universe yet. You have to stick to these characters.'
As we saw in the first trailer for Shazam! one sequence takes place inside a shopping mall. While on the set of Shazam! (though not that set) I learned more about an action scene, and saw some brief footage, that will take place in the film that will see Zachary Levi's Shazam and Mark Strong's Doctor Silvana do battle in that mall. At one point, they go barreling into a toy store and toys go flying, including some DC fans will recognize
Shazam! sits in an odd place in the DC universe as the heroes that we have seen in films like Justice League exist, but since our main character is a normal mortal, at least at the beginning, there's no existing relationship between this film and any of the other heroes.
However, in the same way that sports stars are idolized in our world, superheroes get idolized in the world of the film, and that means action figures have been made of characters like Batman, Superman, and the Suicide Squad. Of course, since these people are considered "real," that meant that the film couldn't include action figures of characters that have not been introduced yet. If we were to see a Green Lantern figure on a shelf next to a Batman figure, it would imply that Green Lantern exists in the DC Universe, and as far as the movies are concerned, that's not the case, at least not yet.
It's almost funny that something as simple as toys had to be handled so delicately in order to be sure they didn't disrupt the universe in some unintended way, but it certainly shows that Warner Bros. and DC are working hard to make sure the continuity of the shared universe remains intact without any significant errors.
A new trailer for Shazam! hit over the weekend. Check it out below.
Whether we'll start seeing Shazam toys popping up in future DC movies remains to be seen.
Shazam! hits theaters in April.