There were another batch of set-spy photos making the rounds on the internet today, these giving the best look yet at Zachary Levi in his costume as Shazam. And because of the detail and sharpness in these photos, a minor but exciting detail stuck out to comic book fans: an homage to a classic Fawcett/DC character.
A close look at the clasps holding Shazam's cape to his costume reveals that the medallions atop the clasps feature tiger heads.
Given that it is Shazam we're talking about, fans immediately took this to be a wink-and-a-nod reference to Mr. Tawky Tawny, a character who first appeared in 1947 and has been a part of the "Marvel Family" on and off ever since.
(For context, Shazam was originally called Captain Marvel. At one point, the deal was that DC could continue to use the Captain Marvel name in the pages of the books but that it could not be the comic's title. Eventually DC gave up even that and just started referring to the character as Shazam.)
Previous set photos featured a stuffed tiger in a toy store, which fans also spotted and took to be a Tawky Tawny Easter egg.
His first appearance introduced Mr. Tawny as a humanoid, talking tiger who travels from his native India to the United States in hopes of integrating himself into American society. Although he makes every effort to be sociable, the simple presence of the talking tiger in the city terrorizes the public, leading to Captain Marvel intervening. Upon learning through the Wisdom of Solomon that Tawny did not mean to cause trouble, Captain Marvel helps Tawny integrate, getting him a job as a tour guide at the local museum. This fit well with his attempts to be civilized by speaking in a somewhat stilted manner and wearing a tweed suit.
Tawny became a regular recurring character in Captain Marvel Adventures, appearing as the best friend of Captain Marvel and his juvenile alter-ego Billy Batson, until it ceased publication in 1953. His second appearance featured Tawny's origin story: Tawny had been a regular tiger who was accused of killing a man. In order to allow the tiger to clear his name, a local hermit gave Tawny a serum that gave him the ability to speak and stand upright like a human.
The character would later be removed from continuity following the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, but a new version was introduced less than a decade later. In that version, "Tawky Tawny" was a popular children's toy that was brought to life by Lord Satanus to aid the Marvel family against his sister Blaze. From that point on, only the Marvels would see him as a real tiger, with everyone around them seeing a doll, a la Calvin and Hobbes.
In Jeff Smith's out-of-continuity 2007 miniseries Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil, Tawky Tawny was presented as an ifrit disguised as a homeless man who can take the form of a tiger.
Following DC's 2011 reboot The New 52, another canonical version of Tawky was introduced -- this one a tiger at the Philadelphia Zoo who was granted powers when Billy Batson realized that he could share his lightning with anyone he considered family.
The theatrical cut of Justice League is now available on Digital HD and hits Blu-ray on March 13th with deleted scenes. The DC Extended Universe continues with Aquaman on December 21st, Shazam on April 5, 2019, Wonder Woman 2 on November 1, 2019, Cyborg in 2020, and Green Lantern Corps in 2020.0comments
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