The latest DC film, Shazam: Fury of the Gods, is now in theaters, and like its most recent predecessor, Black Adam, it does its best to firmly establish itself in the larger mythology of the overarching franchise.
But surprises and cameos aren’t all that make Shazam: Fury of the Gods stand out. The film’s director David F. Sandberg talks with io9 about the film’s emotional ending (and why that was the ending)—and yes, that massive cameo, as well as if he thinks Black Adam is hovering around somewhere off-screen.
After Shazam sacrifices his life to defeat the Daughters of Atlas and save the world (more on that in a second), he’s brought back to life by the power of none other than his number one crush, Wonder Woman, played by Gal Gadot. We asked Sandberg if Gadot’s Wonder Woman was always going to cameo.
“She was in it right from the start,” the director told io9. “But I didn’t believe it because of the experience on the first Shazam where Superman was going to show up at the end. And then, when we were shooting that scene, they were like, ‘Oh, he’s not going to make it here. So you have to shoot it with a stand-in and then we’ll pick up his coverage.’ And then that never happened. So we had to just use the stand-in footage.”
“So for this one, it was like, ‘Is it really going to happen?’ And then when we were shooting the majority of the scene, they were like, ‘Oh, you’re going to have to shoot with stand-in, because she’s not going to make it here’ and I go ‘Oh, okay.’ So I started thinking of a plan B of, like, can Hespera (Helen Mirren) come back or how do we solve this? But then it actually did happen. So we got to work with her and actually have her in the movie, which kind of makes up for the headless cameo in the first one. This time [it’s a ] cameo with heads.”
Wonder Woman is only needed because Billy Batson sacrifices his life—so, we asked, was there ever a chance he was going to stay dead, especially since the future of DC films is so in flux?
“No, it felt like you have to bring him back,” Sandberg said. “The trick for me was that I really wanted to at least have some people doubt. Because a lot of people are going to be, ‘Oh, they can’t kill Shazam!’ But I wanted people to still be like, ‘Wait, are they doing it? Or are they doing it for real?’ And what I’ve heard from some people who have seen the movie so far is that a lot of people actually do believe that he’s dead, which is like, yes!”
“This is the movie where Billy grows up,” the director continued. “He has to become an adult, take responsibility, and he makes that sacrifice. The ultimate sacrifice. But yeah, he deserved to come back.”
Finally, one of the film’s end credit scenes sees characters from Peacemaker ask Billy to join the Justice... Society. Not the Justice League. But since the Justice Society was first revealed in Black Adam, we asked if Black Adam exists in this world.
“Yeah, absolutely,” Sandberg said. “I mean, it’s a shame that they haven’t met yet, because they’re so connected. But yeah, definitely [he] exists.”
Shazam: Fury of the Gods is now in theaters.
Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.