Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Confusing Shazam! Moments Explained

At one time, the red-suited hero Shazam was actually known as Captain Marvel, which is fairly confusing considering that both Shazam and Captain Marvel are dominating the box office. There was a mixed up moment in history when the two shared the name at the same time, leaving comic book readers to wonder, "Wait... Captain Marvel isn't a Marvel character?" Thankfully, DC relinquished the name and decided that the battle cry of "Shazam!" was both cooler and more legally viable for Billy Batson's alter ego.

Film fans are new to the world of Shazam. DC has taken us on trips around Gotham and Metropolis countless times in animated series, blockbuster movies, television series, and still more movies. Shazam is a lightning-laced breath of fresh air, the tone of the film much lighter than previously dark and dour DC titles. But being the new hero on the block has left even longtime DC fans with questions: What are his powers? What's up with the bad guy? Do superheroes have a group chat or what? Riding on the high of the mischievous, hilarious, and sometimes touching premiere, we want to clear up a couple questions about Billy Batson and his bigger, better self.

What does it meant to be pure of heart exactly?

The film opens with the creation of the villain: poor little Thaddeus Sivana, bullied and belittled by his family, is naturally tempted by the insidious voices of the Seven Deadly Sins who promise power and respect. Because of this, he fails the wizard Shazam's test and is forever scarred by the incident. Shazam casts a spell to seek those pure of heart in order to find someone worthy of his name.

When Billy Batson is spirited away, things go differently. The Sins aren't there to tempt him, and the wizard chooses him as Champion. Does this mean he is truly pure of heart? Sivana's research indicates that hundreds of people had been found before Billy, and each had in some way failed Shazam's test. Were they all sinners at their core? Or just really confused about the whole wizard situation? Billy must be good enough for the job, because Shazam practically forces his powers onto him. Why was the wizard so picky in the first place? With great power comes terrible consequences, apparently. Shazam had been burned before, bequeathing his power to Teth-Adam who became something of a tyrant and unleashed the Seven Deadly Sins. We almost met this character, too. Originally, Black Adam as portrayed by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson himself was set to appear in the film. Perhaps we'll see exactly what happens when a wizard gives power to someone not so pure of heart in the Black Adam solo film.

How did Thaddeus Sivana's weird research get funded?

People typically don't fund mad scientists. They are forced to work in abandoned castles and basement labs in shameful solitude, their only friend a typically inept and malformed crony. Not Dr. Sivana. He has a couple dozen scientists working under him in a busy, but blindly white, clean lab. It is only once you walk into his personal office that the madness — and his lifetime obsession with the mystical Rock of Eternity and Seven Deadly Sins — begins to show. Sivana is smart, but has been especially smart to hide his desperate search into the realm of unknowable magic as a study of "mass hallucination."

Even with this alibi, his father and brother still seem to view him as the black sheep of the family. They blame him for the car accident that put the Sivana patriarch in a wheelchair. So how did the youngest Sivana's research get funded? Sivana Industries seems to be a lucrative one, on par with Wayne Enterprises and Lexcorp. It is also a "family company" as emphasized from the patronizing video that plays in the building's elevator. It could be inferred that Sivana Industries is involved with mental health or behavioral studies in the DCEU, which would have allowed Sivana to inconspicuously study magic under the guise of "mass hallucinations." Plus, if there have really been so many wizard abductions, that seems like a worthy phenomena for anyone to look into.

What exactly are the Sins?

Here's what we know for sure about the Seven Deadly Sins: they're evil, they're powerful, and they're seriously ugly. We get that they're the bad guys, but we're fuzzy on the details. Are they demons? The actual Seven Deadly Sins? According to the film, they are manifestations of the worst of what mankind has to offer. In the comics they were known as the Seven Deadly Enemies of Man, which has less Judeo-Christian connections. The comics also help to explain exactly how they carry out their chaotic plans. Mostly, those plans just seem to involve causing as much misery as possible.

The Seven Deadly Sins capitalize on our basest instincts. Envy, Greed, Wrath, Gluttony, Lust, Sloth, and Pride speak sweet nothings to their victims, promising that they'll give them whatever their heart desires. And they do give power, but at a cost. The Sins possess their victims, so Sivana's own evil tendencies were amplified by these ethereal demons. "Demon" might not be the most correct terminology, but they sure look the part. Did we mention they were ugly?

Are Greek gods a thing?

In the world of Shazam, just about anything seems possible. Superheroes can be spotted flying downtown. There are several secret kingdoms beneath the waves. And Superman sometimes shows up in the local high school's cafeteria. So why shouldn't Greek gods be a thing? According to the lore artfully detailed in Wonder Woman, the whole of the Greek pantheon was very real, and very powerful. They were all killed by Ares, save for Zeus, who created the Amazonians to protect humanity for the god of war's wrath. Shazam further confirms that Greek mythology wasn't all that mythical after all.

Shazam's powers are derived from and equivalent to some of the most famous names in mythology, which suggests that perhaps they themselves had been involved with the wizards on the Rock of Eternity. When Billy grasps the glowing staff of the wizard Shazam, he is gifted with the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury, who goes by his Roman name for the sake of convenience. Together, the names of these icons spell out SHAZAM. These are some hefty powers, but they don't manifest in the most straightforward of ways. Billy doesn't seem to be too wise when it comes to handling his powers responsibly, but his lightning hands are certainly Zeus-like.

Which ugly Sin was which?

The beginning scenes of the film have the decidedly ugly Sins lined up conveniently in the Rock of Eternity. They're just as terrible in stone as they are in the flesh (dust? smoke?) when Sivana absorbs them and takes them into the mortal plane where he unleashes them on his enemies. When he confronts the board of his father's company, the sleek conference room gets quickly crowded when seven demonic entities crash the meeting — our first proper look at what they are and how they function. Even though they exist in smoke and dust in Sivana's evil eye, they are obviously solid when they unceremoniously rip into the unsuspecting business people at the meeting.

The Sins come armed with tentacles in Lust's case, an extra set of arms for Greed, Gluttony has a gaping maw with formidable looking teeth, Wrath is gorilla-like in musculature, Envy is goblin-like, and Sloth has sloth arms, which means that Pride is the most demon-like Sin of them all, with massive, bat-like wings and horns. The comics mention that Pride might be the most dangerous of all the Seven Deadly Sins, but the winged nightmare seems content to give center stage to its hideous buddies.

Is the world chill with superheroes?

It isn't a surprise when Freddie's YouTube videos of Captain Sparklefingers/Red Cyclone/anything-but-Shazam go viral. In the DCEU, YouTube must be filled with home movies of superpowers caught on tape: encounters with Superman, sightings of the Batmobile, and selfies with Aquaman. What's surprising is that people in the movie aren't all that enthralled with a new hero whose powers seem to rival those of Superman's. Remember that this is in the same universe where Superman was compared to a god, where pseudo-religions rose around the big red S.

Shazam, in comparison, only manages to gather a small crowd of admirers when he's showing off his sparkling, sparking lightning hands. Is the world just chill with superheroes now? Probably not, but the tone of Shazam! marks a notable departure from the very serious, dark, and gritty films of the earlier DCEU. Instead of going into the international uproar that likely arose at the appearance of another superhuman, the movie focuses on the kids in the cast. Director David F. Sandberg has said that he mined the Spielberg-directed adventures of his past and the expertise of the kids on set in order to capture all the fun the movie provides. Shazam! is something of a family film, which means we get Fortnite references instead of big, bloody death scenes.

Where/what is the Rock of Eternity?

When it comes to magical items, there are rarely hard and fast rules, which makes their implementation confusing. In Shazam!, Sivana, Billy, and countless other people are spirited away to a cave-like lair known as the Rock of Eternity. There, the wizard resides surrounded by empty thrones and the Seven Deadly Sins are imprisoned in stone. This place isn't on any map — much to the frustration of Sivana, who dedicates his life to finding it. Rather, the Rock of Eternity exists between worlds in a kind of limbo that can only be accessed through, you guessed it, magic.

According to the comics, the Rock of Eternity resides within multiple dimensions at once, in order to prevent it from being destroyed. This helps to explain a thoroughly confusing sequence during which Billy and his new family run around the labyrinthine rock and discover a collection of doors straight out of Monsters Inc. Behind each one, there's some kind of strange other world hosting tentacles or crocodile creatures. The movie doesn't put a lot of effort into explaining that this is because of the Rock of Eternity's multidimensional citizenship, instead kind of shrugging and saying, "Because magic."

Can there be infinite Shazam siblings?

Other than the question of whether we'll get a sequel, the main question we leave the theatre with is this: is Shazam overpowered? It's a surprising question to have, considering the fact that this movie exists in the same universe as Superman himself. The twist that saved everyone's bacon when things looked darkest was that Billy, as Champion, could share his power with his family. With the shout of "Shazam!" and a burst of lightning, all the kids get a superhero makeover. As their ideal selves, they are all adult, athletic, and ultra-powerful. They each seem to have a particularly strong dose of one of Shazam's signature powers, whether that's speed in Darla's case, flight in Freddie's case, or strength in Pedro's case.

Initially, it seems perhaps all of Shazam's powers have been split up among the kids, but Billy still has his full arsenal, and all the new Shazam-lings exhibit more than just one ability. Is the power of Shazam infinite? This suggests that Billy could have made a whole army of superheroes before he snapped the wizard's magical staff in half. This may have been part of the wizard's grand scheme, considering the empty thrones on the Rock of Eternity. It would be up to the new Champion to fill them, and Billy seriously expedites the process by creating five new Shazams.

How did Billy's siblings know the bad guy mechanics?

The kids in the Vasquez house are pretty smart. Eugene, for example, is more than just a genius at Fortnite, proving to be a next level computer whiz when he manages to track down Billy's birth mother's address. They think fast and are incredibly perceptive. Almost too perceptive.

They adjust relatively well to being introduced to a world of supervillains and smoke monsters. They seem to instantly recognize the ugly monsters in Sivana's eye as Sins. Mary realizes that they are somehow connected to how strong Sivana is at any moment. Did we miss the part where they were given an explanation of the situation? Not only are these kids smart, but they've proven time and again to be quick studies. Freddie is something of a superhero expert. Mary did everything she could in order to get into her dream college. And even quiet Pedro was the one to find Billy's book full of leads on the location of his mom.

Why was Envy the one left?

Here's the thing about the Seven Deadly Sins: not all of them seem so deadly. When it comes to facing down the hideous demons themselves, some are scarier than others. Wrath nearly got the better of Billy, and it's hard not to be disturbed by Greed ripping into Sivana's prone father, not to mention those tentacle tongues of Lust's. Gross. But it's hard to imagine how a Sin like Sloth would win in a knock-down, drag-out superhero fight. Or Envy for that matter. How do you kill someone with Envy?

As it turns out, Envy is actually one of the more dangerous Sins in the film. We rarely see this little devil because it stays cozied up in Sivana's evil eye for as long as possible — until Billy manages to finally provoke it out of hiding. Why Envy? The Sins work by preying on base instincts and feelings. Envy's the most powerful feeling for Sivana, because he envies Billy for having been chosen instead of him as Shazam's Champion. Envious and bitter, he makes himself into the Sins' Champion in order to spite the wizard who said he wasn't good enough. Envy eats him up inside and without it, he was made powerless.

What is that caterpillar at the end of the movie?

The end credit scenes after superhero movies are often winks and nudges at upcoming content. This means that often only the most ardent of comics fans know exactly what's happening in these brief snatches of exposition. For example, we have the mid-credits scene from Shazam!, when Sivana is seen madly scribbling graffiti on his prison cell — and we start to understand the importance of that little caterpillar seen at the Rock of Eternity.

His name is Mister Mind, and don't let his small stature fool you: he's one of the most diabolical creatures in the DC Universe. As his name suggests, he's super smart, and he uses his incredible intellect for evil. In the comics, this little worm had the big plan to assemble the Monster Society of Evil. Sivana is likely the first recruit, having teamed up with Mister Mind in the comics many times before. Mister Mind isn't just smart, either — he has mind control powers, which probably come in handy when trying to take over the world. We've yet to see exactly what his powers and plans are in the DCEU, but we can be assured that they are not good. Not good at all.

How does Shazam know Superman?

It's easy to assume that most superheroes know each other or are at least aware of each other's existence, because when it comes to powerful figures like Superman or personalities like Aquaman's, they're hard to miss. Justice League allowed them to really get to know each other. Maybe they even exchanged phone numbers or friended each other on Facebook.

For Billy, these are still legendary figures akin to celebrities rather than allies or equals. He's probably just as excited as Freddie to meet Superman for the first time, but in the comics, Supes and Billy go way back. Black Adam, the aforementioned Champion-gone-bad, is powerful enough to make even the almighty Superman balk. It takes the combined might of Shazam and Superman to take him down in the 2010 animated special Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam. With Black Adam film on the way, presumably with a slightly grittier feel than the family flick Shazam! turned out to be, the Superman cameo might be connected with Black Adam's return. Maybe Superman needed information from Shazam about a similarly powered villain on the rise. Or maybe he's something of a welcome wagon when it comes to new superheroes. Surely, he would have felt the need to check out a new, ultra-powerful hero that seems suspiciously immature, just to make sure he doesn't have any villainous tendencies.