How Shazam! Pulled Off Its Bus Rescue Scene

Freddy and adult Billy next to bus in Shazam!

If you caught the latest Shazam! trailer, you saw a cool sequence where the eponymous hero prevents a bus from crashing into the ground. It’s one of Billy Batson’s many heroic moments within his DC Extended Universe movie, but as is the case with when making a blockbuster, pulling off this scene was a difficult endeavor, one which required the occupants inside the bus to actually fall. As director David F. Sandberg and producer Peter Safran explained:

David F. Sandberg: We bought a bunch of buses. We built a part of that overpass bridge. Our physical effects team were amazing because they built this whole rig where not only did we drive the bus through this railing, but this rig would sort of tilt the whole bus. So those guys falling through the bus, they’re actually falling through the bus.Peter Safran: There was a big hinge mechanism on there that could take it from horizontal to vertical, the real bus. And then David had all the actors on descenders, so they were at the back of the bus, and they were dropped to the front. So it was remarkably practical for a superhero movie these days, which are so filled with VFX, there was a lot of really practical stuff that really went into that sequence.

The bus scene was among the many Shazam!-related topics discussed when David F. Sandberg and Peter Safran’s stopped by the ReelBlend podcast. As Safran noted, while it certainly would have been easy for the Shazam! VFX team to put together this sequence digitally, it’s admirable that the crew went the practical route using multiple buses and that special rig, thus making it feel more realistic. Props to the performers inside for also being good sports about being thrown from one end of the bus to another.

As the bus scene appears to unfold in the Shazam! trailer (it’s possible that the way it’s cut in the preview doesn’t exactly reflect how it happens in the actual movie), the Shazam-ified Billy Batson is shooting lighting bolts out of his hand to impress a crowd when one of his bolts hits one of the bus’ tires as it’s driving on an overpass nearby. The driver loses control and drives off the edge, but luckily Billy swoops in and catches the bus before impact. It just goes to show that if you play with lightning, you’re going to cause pandemonium on the road.

You can listen to David F. Sandberg and Peter Safran’s full interview about Shazam! on ReelBlend below!

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Inspired by numerous eras of Shazam’s comic book history, Shazam! sees Billy Batson meeting the mysterious Wizard shortly after joining a new foster family and gaining the ability to become an adult superhero. With the help of Freddy Freeman, Billy will slowly get the hang of using powers like super strength, flight, hyper speed and electricity manipulation, but he’ll also have to put these powers to good use going up against the sinister Dr. Sivana, a brilliant scientist who has somehow obtained his own magical powers.

You can see Shazam! in theaters starting tomorrow evening, but don’t forget to read our review of the latest DCEU installment. You can also find out what else this superhero franchise has in the works by looking with our handy guide.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.