[Editor’s note: Spoilers ahead for both “Shazam!” and its post-credits scenes.]
It’s difficult to imagine another DC Extended Universe film that ends on quite as happy a note as David F. Sandberg’s “Shazam!,” which closes out a joyous (and occasionally scary) superhero film with a massive battle that sets the stage for plenty of films to come. For now, however, Sandberg is focused on his first superhero film and everything contained within it.
Still, as with many of its superhero movie brethren, “Shazam!” features some post-credits scenes that nod to a wider universe, one in which Shazam will likely remain a major part of the evolving DCEU. The filmmaker spoke with IndieWire about those after-credit treats and what they mean in the context of his film and beyond.
“Shazam!” includes just two post-credits scenes, one that hints at a sequel possibility (though, even Sandberg is hedging his bets on that one) and one that almost didn’t make it into the final cut. Here’s what they are and how they tie back to the rest of the DCEU.
[One more time: Spoilers ahead for both “Shazam!” and its post-credits scenes.]
1. A New Baddie Sprouts
Sandberg’s film ends on an understandably upbeat note: Billy (Asher Angel) has found his family and the Shazam! clan has been gifted with some major powers. Even the director admits it’s his favorite part of the film, one that culminates in a Christmas carnival-set battle that sees Billy/Shazam and his new siblings sending the evil Dr. Sivana (Mark Strong) away for good.
“It’s just such a great payoff to see the whole family get powers, and it was kind of hard at the end to figure that out,” Sandberg told IndieWire. “It was like, ‘oh shit, we have six heroes. We have seven sins that they have to fight,’ and we don’t have the budget of ‘Aquaman’ necessarily or ‘Justice League,’ so it was quite a challenge to have all those characters fighting at once, but I just loved that payoff. It’s my favorite part of the movie.”
It also helps that the film’s central baddie has been locked up (likely for life), so it’s only fitting that that’s where the film’s two post-credits scenes start: with Strong’s obviously addled Dr. Sivana in a jail cell covered in magical symbols — chicken scratch that signals Sivana is still hellbent on capturing some of his old powers. This time, however, he might have a friend.
As he accidentally snaps a tightly-clutched piece of chalk, the perpetually pissed off super villain screams in dismay, only to be greeted by a robotic voice telling Sivana that there are other ways to acquire magic. While fans of Shazam are likely expecting a reveal of a classic nemesis like Black Adam, the scene instead cuts to reveal Mister Mind, a tiny caterpillar with a voice box around his tiny caterpillar neck.
Eagle-eyed viewers likely spotted the teensy bad guy earlier in the film, appearing in quick scenes in Shazam’s otherworldly wizard lair. Mister Mind seems happy to get in league with Sivana, promising him that soon the Seven Realms will belong to both of them. But who is this guy?
“I just think it’s such a great character, because he’s kind of goofy in a way, he’s like this super evil mastermind in the body of a little worm,” Sandberg said. “We included that without necessarily having a plan for the sequel. It was more like, ‘it’s a fun character and it’s sort of expected these days that you have a post-credits scene.'”
While Shazam is most closely associated with Black Adam when it comes to his usual baddies, Mister Mind has long been a part of the superhero’s lore, appearing in early 1940’s comic books that featured the superhero (he even founded the Monster Society of Evil, he’s just that evil). In both a 2013 run of “Justice League” comic books and the newest run of “Shazam!” stories, Mister Mind has reaffirmed his long-running bond with Sivana, and the unlikely partners have continued their plans to take over the world.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to inspire a sequel to the film — one that hasn’t even been announced yet — though it seems inevitable, considering the film’s first weekend success. Sandberg added, “It was a fun thing to do, but then I’m not sure what [the film’s] sequel could be necessarily, because we’ve just been so focused on making this the best standalone movie it could be.”
2. A Beloved Hero Gets a Splashy Joke
The second post-credits scene doesn’t have much meat to it, but it does harken back to an earlier sequence in the film and offer up a quick jab at another beloved DC hero. The final scene sees Billy-as-Shazam and his foster brother and best friend Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer) chatting in their bedroom, with Shazam attempting to talk to a goldfish. Turns out, he doesn’t have that ability, and he is wholly unable to imitate Aquaman’s ability to “command billions in the sea.”
Disappointed, Shazam offers up a shruggy retort: “Well, that’s not that cool.” It’s just a small gag, but it speaks to the overall humor of the film.
“That scene was actually a part of the whole montage,” Sandberg said, referencing an earlier montage in which Billy and Freddy try to figure out all of Shazam’s powers though some very amusing trial and error. “It was so fun coming up with all these powers for them to test out and all these things for them to do, so we just shot a ton of stuff, like way more than we could fit into the movie.”
It almost didn’t make it into the final film, but Sandberg and his team knew that they wanted to have some sort of joke to close out the feature. Why not use a gag that didn’t make the original cut?
“When we were putting it together, it was like, ‘maybe we should have something after the credits,’ we have all these things left over, let’s just take one of those scenes and put it there,” he said. “Aquaman felt like an even more fun choice since it just came out and was a big hit, so it felt like, ‘oh, well, let’s use that one and poke a little fun at Aquaman.’ It was just something left over on the cutting room floor and I was like, ‘ah, let’s put it there!'”
“Shazam!” is currently in theaters.