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Warner Bros’ superhero universe has been building itself into an expansive franchise with interconnected threads over the years, but more often than not, it doesn’t feel like the filmmakers are necessarily communicating about the family of heroes being presented on screen. Although, David F. Sandberg’s Shazam! did share some nudges to Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman a la Marvel Studios films.
In anticipation of Zack Snyder’s cut of Justice League coming to HBO Max in March, some fans had questions for the Shazam! director about how he connected the 2019 movie to Snyder’s other DCEU movies. David F. Sandberg responded by explaining on Twitter that he'd never actually spoken to or met Snyder before adding his Easter eggs within the film, but he did want to pay homage to their roots and interconnectivity into the shared universe. In his words:
In the world of Shazam the events of Man of Steel & BvS happened but we also see that there are toys and merchandise of these characters and people who are fans, like Freddy. Kind of like how in Logan we see that X-Men comic books exist but X-Men are also real at the same time.
David F. Sandberg decided to go by Logan rules for Shazam!, imagining that the events of Man of Steel and Batman v Superman had really happened prior to Billy Batson’s origin story, but there was also the side of the world where action figures and such were made as a result of these occurrences. It definitely makes sense and grounds the other films in the “reality” of the DCEU. When you think about it, if Superman really did roam the skies, we would most certainly have merchandise in his image, even if he wasn’t necessarily on the side of the public as a whole.
It’s a good pull and those little callbacks definitely enriched Shazam! for audiences, especially for those unaware of Zachary Levi’s hero. And as Sandberg recently revealed, Henry Cavill was originally set to make an appearance in the movie, but plans changed halfway during filming and just Superman (without Henry Cavill’s head) popped up at the end of the movie.
With the MCU’s prominence in the film world, audiences are trained to look out for Easter eggs and other connective tissues to the larger comic book franchises in play. Fox’s X-Men universe was early to the party, and Hugh Jackman’s last hurrah as Wolverine in Logan certainly did provide a wink or two to the main universe whilst painting a very different world for the character in his final days.
Henry Cavill will return as Superman in the Snyder Cut, which comes to HBO Max on March 18. Use this link to sign up for a subscription. David F. Sandberg is currently prepping to make Shazam: Fury of the Gods, the sequel to Shazam! that is expected to hit theaters on June 2, 2023. Check out the DCEU’s full lineup of upcoming movies here on CinemaBlend.