Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS for Shazam! are ahead!
The DC Extended Universe might not be focusing as much on close interconnectivity between its movies anymore, but make no mistake, we’re still operating in a shared universe. Shazam! definitely hammered that point across through Freddy Freeman’s obsession with superheroes and various toys and memorabilia, but right as the latest DCEU movie wrapped up, none other than the Man of Steel himself, Superman, showed up! Well, sort of, as it wasn’t Henry Cavill playing the character.
However, the original plan was to put Cavill back in the Superman suit for Shazam!, which would have been his fourth DCEU appearance. As for why that didn’t happen, here’s what producer Peter Safran said:
At one point, we'd hoped it was going to be Cavill doing it, but unfortunately his schedule didn't allow him to do it. We still wanted to do it anyway, and it turned out to be better, because it let us do a hard cut on Freddy's reaction, because if we had Cavill there, we'd actually written lines, they had a dialogue, but then it's a little bit of a hat on hat, because really what it's about is Freddy's reaction, so we got to get out on that.
You’ll recall that last September, a report came out saying Henry Cavill would no longer be playing Superman in the DCEU, a claim that Warner Bros denied soon after. It was also mentioned that the studio tried to get Cavill to come back for a Shazam! cameo, but talks broke down due to scheduling conflicts. Sure enough, Peter Safran provides the same reasoning for why a stunt double played Superman in Shazam! rather than Cavill.
As Peter Safran noted, while the original plan was for Superman to say a few things, this silent cameo, where you could only see the Kryptonian hero from the neck down, ended up working better since it highlighted Freddy Freeman’s excitement. In case you need a refresher, after Billy Batson showed up at his and Freddy’s high school as Shazam to make up for not doing so earlier in the movie, he revealed that he brought Superman along as an even bigger surprise.
Peter Safran didn’t reveal to Comicbook.com what Superman would have specifically said had Henry Cavill reprised the role, but a rumor from a few months back claimed that Kal-El/Clark Kent would have told Billy Batson something along the lines of “We’ll be keeping an eye on you.” Taking that dialogue out refocused the moment on a boy being incredibly jazzed that two superheroes visited him during lunch period, although Zachary Levi has not been shy about his desire for Shazam to join the Justice League someday.
While Shazam looks to have a bright future ahead of him, as work on Shazam! 2 is already underway, Superman’s future is less certain. He was resurrected in Justice League and returned to both his civilian and crimefighting lives, but there are no plans to release Man of Steel 2 anytime soon, and Henry Cavill is currently busy working on the Netflix series The Witcher.
It’s possible we’ll eventually reach a point where, just like with Batman, Superman will be recast, but for now, aside from his quick Shazam! cameo, the character remains in limbo. In any case, at least we can take comfort knowing that Billy Batson is already making friends in the superhero community.
Be sure to read CinemaBlend’s review of Shazam! and stay tuned for more developments on how Shazam! 2 is progressing. For now, feel free to look through our DC movies guide to learn what this superhero franchise has on the way.