By Scotty V
If you’ve paid any attention to me at all over the last few years, even though I’ve been a bit absent from the Homepage, you’ll know I’ve always preferred my superheroes somewhat serious. That’s often put me at odds with many other fans who argue that superhero stories should be light, fun and happy tales that make children smile and adults remember what it was like to do so. Shazam! is a film I think many will agree fits that description.
While this isn’t a review of Shazam!, as this isn’t the “Once Upon a Time he was Captain Marvel Homepage,” but since I did end up going to see the film I can tell you that I thought it was fantastic. I went on a whim and because I had some unused “movie club that shall go unnamed” passes I didn’t want to lose and I’m very thankful I did. If you’re one of the fans who just wants to escape and have a great time smiling ear to ear through most of a film with humor that works, emotion that hits at the right time and heart that fills you with joy, Shazam! might be the movie for you.
Plus, as an added bonus, and since this is the Superman Homepage, there’s quite a little extra what what towards the end of the movie. Now you may already know about this, but if you don’t and if maybe the title of this article didn’t already give it away then scroll away now, click away now… for The Wizard’s sake please don’t read any more! But seriously, we Superman fans know that our Man of Steel in a slightly altered suit makes an appearance in the lunchroom of the now Philadelphia school called Fawcett High.
You see, in what feels to me as a first for the DCEU, one of the DC heroes is given a real world home city location and that city is also my hometown… Philadelphia. Fawcett Comics was once the proud owner of the character previously known as Captain Marvel, and so naming the school in honor of that history seems apt. There are also some other great Golden Age shout outs, cameos and call-backs so that’s something else to look forward to.
But I digress, I’m here to describe Superman’s appearance in the film. While Cavill himself does not appear in the movie, (something about a contract that was only good for three films and the idea that Warner might be moving away from what started as a more gritty take on its famous heroes), Superman certainly does; or at least, his body does. Billy Batson, in his more powerful form as the character who calls out “Shazam” to become a superhero, shows up to rebuild Freddie Freeman’s reputation after Freddie earlier promised the hero would show up but then Billy failed to do so.
Then, in perhaps what was meant to be an unexpected cameo, Billy announces he’s brought another friend to lunch and, in walks Superman. At first we see the character from the side, waist to shoulder and while we do, there’s a tiny, listen to something else and you’ll miss it (which I did while in the theater), bit of John WIlliam’s Superman Theme. It’s certainly not loud and boisterous, but it’s there, and it’s humble and respectful.
The camera spins around to show us the awed children in the lunchroom, shocked as they might be by a Venusian Space Worm seeing the surprise visitor from another planet. The camera shifts back to Freddie’s table, where Billy’s magical hero sits on one side of Freeman and Superman comes to a stop on his opposite side. In that moment, Superman turns to face the camera, preparing to sit, and though we still only see him waist to shoulder, a quick view reveals some added gold/yellow and red around the belt area of his iconic uniform. Superman stands for mere seconds and we see his lunch tray, containing a bottle of milk and some food and his full chest symbol. Freddie lets out a gasp and a yelp and then credits roll.
The music used for the credits was exciting and the doodles of other DC heroes accompanying the credits were charming. I personally was left wondering if maybe they should have left out the Superman cameo, since they didn’t show his face, although it seems almost symbolic that the powers that be could be trying to show that people are awed at what Superman stands for, and what he brings to the table, other than milk, rather than what his face might look like. Thinking it over, it could also serve as an explanation of why, perhaps, people don’t recognize him as another person. The personality, the regality and the presence so strong, children and adults alike lose their minds and can think of nothing else. I know I’ve certainly felt awed by the character in my tenure as a fan.