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Small Details You Missed In Shazam!

Critics agree that Shazam! has completely turned the dark, dreary tide of the DCEU. Where there was once nothing but bleak, brooding heroes wringing their hands over their personal problems, boy-turned-superdude Billy Batson is a much-needed bolt of bright, cheerful lightning. 

In many ways, Shazam! had to be relegated to the backdrop of the dimly-lit DCEU, where heroes already exist and are worshipped like gods; all of those regrettable "Martha" moments stack up to make Shazam! shine. But now that we're in a world where superheroes are real, and fans of those superheroes exist and collect remnants of bad-guy battles to sell on eBay, Easter eggs can't be too far behind, right? Here are some of the small details we noticed in Shazam!

Fawcett High School

While Shazam may be synonymous with DC Comics today, the Big Red Cheese was originally published by another company entirely. In 1939, Shazam was known as Captain Marvel, and he made his first appearance in Whiz Comics #2, published by Fawcett Comics. That makes him just slightly younger than DC's flagship characters, Superman and Batman. That matter of months would have a huge impact, however.

In 1941, DC launched a campaign against Fawcett to get them to stop publishing Captain Marvel, alleging that Captain Marvel was just a copy of Superman. At the time, comics starring Captain Marvel outsold even Superman's books, and DC had a habit of flinging around lawsuits when they thought their ideas were being stolen. During the prolonged legal battle, which lasted until 1953, DC even creatively "borrowed" some aspects of Captain Marvel, including the power to fly (rather than just leap tall buildings), and a bald-headed supervillain.

The court's ultimate decision in favor of DC completely devastated Fawcett. Later, in 1972, DC bought the rights to a number of Fawcett characters, including Captain Marvel. Fawcett limped along to a final shutdown in 1980, their most popular characters gutted from the company by DC. All of this is to say that there seems to be no lingering acrimony between DC and what was once Fawcett Comics, as DC drops a pretty bold homage to Shazam's true origins. Plastered across the lunchroom wall is the name of Billy's alma mater: Fawcett High School.

That wasn't even the last name drop that the movie had in store, though. When Billy's foster family finds the real names of Billy's parents, his father is simply identified as "C.C. Batson," a very clear reference to Captain Marvel's original co-creator, C.C. Beck. Both the DCEU's Billy Batson and C.C. Beck were born in Minnesota, where some of Captain Marvel's comic adventures also took place.

They call me Dr. Worm

Thaddeus Sivana's backstory unfolds within the first five minutes of Shazam! In short, he's a bratty little kid with a terrible family who's transported to the Wizard's Rock of Eternity to audition to be a magical champion. He fails the test terribly and gets the boot... but that's not the coolest part of this whole scene.

Captain Marvel fans probably immediately recognized Mr. Mind imprisoned in a glass dome in the Rock of Eternity, immediately setting up the film's mid-credits scene. Mr. Mind is a squirmy little worm with a very weird backstory. He's from outer space, he's friends with Nazis, and he runs a monster society. He's stowed away in time-travel robots, and he sometimes, he can even eat dimensions. He's probably DC Comics' smartest villain, somewhere up there with Brainiac and Hector Hammond.

After Sivana returns to the Rock of Eternity as an adult and defeats the Wizard Shazam, he not only lets the seven deadly sins escape, but Mr. Mind also. That broken glass dome sets up the weirdest and most exciting mid-credits scene of all time.

Talking tigers

Young Billy Batson, the tiny boy who gets lost at a carnival and can't find his way home, is separated from his teenage mother after she fails to win him a stuffed tiger at a dart game. There are tigers on Shazam's costume. And later on, Shazam hands a tiger doll to a terrified young girl to calm her. So, what's up with all these tigers? As always, there's a reason rooted in comics: one of Billy's best friends is a tiger who talks and walks upright.

That tiger, Mr. Tawky Tawny, first appeared in 1947's Captain Marvel Adventures #79, where it was revealed that he's just an ordinary tiger who really, really wanted to wear clothes and eat ice cream after consuming a brain-energizing serum. Why does he need this fancy brain potion? Why, to defend himself against a murder he'd been accused of! It's all extremely weird.

Tawny hops on a boat and shows up in the city, where everyone is terrified of free-roaming tigers, even when they politely ask questions. All is resolved, however, when Captain Marvel secures Tawny a job as a museum guide. Tawny is eventually given a place among the Marvel family. All's well that ends well.

Black Adam

Even though Dr. Sivana and Mr. Mind are among Shazam's most formidable and iconic foes, there's one that's even more notable: Black Adam. DC announced Black Adam's solo movie in January of 2017, and it was even supposed to show up before Shazam!, so what gives?

Blink and you'll miss it, but the Wizard Shazam mentions that he had a previous champion who'd betrayed him. There's no doubt that this is Black Adam, who (in original comic canon) was given the powers of the six ancient gods, but used them to take over Egypt, rather than save lives and make the world a better place. The Wizard banishes Black Adam to outer space, and Adam spends 5,000 years trying to make it back to Earth. When he does, he jealously terrorizes Billy Batson for many more decades. So, even though we're set up for a Mr. Mind/Sivana team up in Shazam! 2, it's almost certain that the Wizard's old champion will be showing up for a fight.

Monster Society

When the Marvel family becomes lost on the Rock of Eternity, they find themselves in a giant cavern full of Monsters Inc.-style doors to different universes. While this is the first amazing hint at a DCEU Multiverse, it also points directly to one very specific part of Captain Marvel's history as well. Those crocodiles playing poker aren't just an invention for the movie.

The Crocodile Men, who first showed up in the early days of Captain Marvel Adventures, hail from the planet Punkus and have names like Sylvester, Herkimer, and Jorrk. In their first appearances, they worked alongside Mr. Mind and his Monster Society of Evil. Much later, in 2006, a talking croc named Sobek showed up, claiming to have been created by Dr. Sivana... except he was really one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Black Adam tears him apart and makes boots out of his skin. So, no matter how you look at it, those card shark crocs were a big deal, and they'll probably be back for more.

We got a look through one other door, though: one full of hungry tentacles. While there are all kinds of tentacled things in the DC Universe, it's possible that we saw the DCEU's version of a Black Mercy, a plant that attaches itself to its victim and creates a dream of a perfect world while feeding on them. If they can throw one into Supergirl, why not the DCEU?

Getting Big

One of the most common reactions to Shazam! has been to describe it as "Superman meets Big," and that comparison couldn't possibly be more appropriate after seeing one specific scene in the movie.

While Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia may enjoy a charming duet in the middle of FAO Schwartz on a king-sized floor piano, Shazam! gives its own spin on the scene during the shopping mall battle between Shazam and Sivana. While they don't quite make the same beautiful music together, the colossal piano they wind up fighting on really drives the connection home.

And if you're looking for truly vintage references, look no further than the iconic cover of 1945's Superman #32, where Superman shrugs off a series of lightning bolts with a casual "It tickles!" Similar words are spoken by Shazam while bullets bounce off of him, really bringing home that this guy is at least as powerful as the Big Blue Boy Scout.

Second chances

Surprise! Shazam's real power was the love of his foster brothers and sisters all along. The movie's casting was pretty hush-hush about the roles of some of its more notable guests, but during the film's final battle, we find out that all of these good-hearted kids also score the power of gods and turn into adults... of course, played by celebrities. Both DJ Cotrona and Adam Brody, now members of the Shazam family, were once almost a part of a very different DC family: the Justice League.

In DC's abandoned Justice League: Mortal, Cotrona and Brody were cast to play Superman and Flash. Unfortunately, the project notoriously went off the rails at the very last moment, after props were built and filming was set to begin. Now, at least two of the cast's actors have found a second place to play super.

And we definitely can't ignore the appearance of John Glover as Thad Sivana's dad. Glover isn't an actor who needed a second chance to play a DC character, as he's played numerous DC Comics bad guys in the past. He was the voice of the Riddler in Batman: The Animated Series, he played Lex Luthor's dad in Smallville, and he filled the brief but memorable role of Dr. Jason Woodrue in Batman & Robin. The guy is basically DC royalty at this point.