Despite taking place in its own little corner of the DC movie universe, director David F. Sandberg's Shazam!, out next week, will draw inspiration from plenty of comics and some of the previous movies released under the DC Films banner. While this will likely not even have the direct references to Steppenwolf that Aquaman did (in passing), Shazam! has already provided fans with plenty of blink-and-you'll-miss-it Easter egg opportunities in its TV spots, trailers, and creative team interviews. We're here to run them down ahead of the movie, so that when the film actually comes out we can add the ones we spot in the theater to these for a fuller list.
For the sake of argument, we will avoid listing things that are intrinsic to Shazam's backstory, since they are less likely to be true Easter eggs and more likely to be plot setup. One example of this that we will mention -- here -- is the suggestion that the Council of Eternity will play a role in the character's backstory. When the wizard Shazam appears in the first trailer, he sits in the middle of seven chairs with the rest remaining empty. This appears to be a reference to the recent Shazam origin written by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank in which the wizard is a member of the Council of Eternity, a group slowly eroded by Shazam’s enemy Black Adam. It appears that this plot point from the comics will be making its way to the film as well. Beyond that, though...!
Breaking down the exact Easter eggs in Freddie and Billy's bedroom seems like a fool's errand. The very short version? Freddie Freeman is a big fan of Superman. Besides basic things like posters, Freddie has a hanging Daily Planet from when Superman returned from the dead and some more news clippings in his drawer.
This Batarang shares the design from the Zack Snyder films (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League), so one might assume that it was dropped during one of the big, group action scenes in Justice League when Bruce had better things to worry about than picking up after himself.
That, of course, is one of the many nicknames given to Batman over the years in the comics.
As Shazam and Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer) are testing out Billy's new-found powers, there's a clip in which Shazam tries to test out his abilities to fly. As he runs up the ramp of a half-pipe, grafitti seen on the right side of the frame reads "Arion."
If you skipped over the grafitti the first time around, you're not the only one as Arion is a pretty deep cut from the DC Comics mythos. An immortal Atlanteon, Arion is a sorcerer who ruled over Atlantis before it sank into the sea. Created by Paul Kupperberg and Jan Duursema, Arion debuted in Warlord #55 in the early 1980s.
After an absence lasting over five years, Arion made his grand re-entrance into DC Comics in last year's Blue Beetle run in a quick arc written by Keith Giffen.
After a fan pointed out a number of smiley faces in one scene on Twitter, and asked whether there was a Watchmen Easter egg intended (seemingly as a joke), Sandberg replied that, in fact, there was -- and shared a photo from the set of the movie. Yes, there is the small mountain of smiley faces on a social worker's desk...but one of those smileys is overtly the Watchmen logo -- the Comedian's bloody smiley-face button.
In what has already turned into a fan-favorite sequence just based on the second trailer, there is a point in the movie where Shazam is running from Sivana, and when he breaks through a toy store wall he hurls a large Batman figure backwards at the villain, telling the Dark Knight toy to "get him." The toy responds, "I'm Batman!" as it bounces off Sivana.
It would be difficult to really calculate all of the Justice League toys that make an appearance in that scene, but it's worth mentioning that there are Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Shazam toys and children's dress-up costumes, along with more action figures, a toy Batmobile, and other assorted odds and ends.
One of the very first things fans noticed, long before anybody had seen a trailer: 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. Yet another version of Tawky (we think?) appeared in this week's Shazam! #4.
At various points in different trailers and teasers, Freddie can be seen wearing different superhero chic. Yeah, he has a predeliction for Superman, but he wears an Aquaman t-shirt and a Wonder Woman t-shirt at various points in the movie.
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