'Shazam!' Director Addresses the Film's 'Justice League: Mortal' Connection

Now that Shazam! is officially in theaters, fans are celebrating the film's many connections and [...]

Now that Shazam! is officially in theaters, fans are celebrating the film's many connections and references to the world of DC Comics. As superfans probably, one of the film's most well-kept secrets has a weird tie to DC's film world -- although it apparently wasn't intentional.

Spoilers for Shazam! below! Only look if you want to know!

In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, director David F. Sandberg spoke about some of the film's most surprising moments, including the third act reveal of the Shazam! family, the superpowered alter egos of Billy Batson's (Asher Angel) foster siblings. Among those were Adam Brody and D.J. Cotrona, both of whom had been slated to appear in the ill-fated Justice League: Mortal, something that surprisingly didn't factor into their casting in Shazam!.

"We sort of realized afterwards that both Adam Brody and D.J. Cotrona were cast in George Miller's Justice League: Mortal, the movie that almost happened," Sandberg tells The Hollywood Reporter. "Adam Brody was The Flash and D.J. was Superman. So, afterwards, we said, 'Oh, shit! They finally get to be superheroes in a DC movie…' They didn't even know they were auditioning for superheroes."

"It was just auditioning a lot of people." Sandberg continued. "It wasn't something where I thought, 'Adam Brody! He'd be the perfect older Jack.' It was just looking at tons and tons of tapes, and also auditioning people in person until you just find the right one. And when you see the right one, it just clicks right away, like Adam Brody, who's perfect for Freddy, and Meagan Good, who's perfect for Darla. It was interesting, because when we did the casting of those characters, we wanted to keep it a secret. So, they didn't even know they were auditioning for superheroes. [Screenwriter] Henry Gayden wrote everyday scenes that had characters with the traits we were after, but the actors didn't even know what they were auditioning for."

For the uninitiated, Justice: League Mortal was DC's attempt to start an entirely new film franchise, which had been in stages of development since 2007. After Miller was brought on to direct, the film entered the casting and pre-production days, but was ultimately put on hold due to various delays, and the eventual success of The Dark Knight.

"I really was attracted to it. But there was a writers strike looming," Miller explained in a 2016 interview. "We had to cast it very quickly, which we did with Warner's casting people. And we cast it really quickly and we mounted it very quickly. And it depended on a start date and it depended on some basic rebate legislation that had just got through a new Australian government. But it was just too big a decision for them to make in the time. And that fell through and the whole film fell through. We almost got there. And it wasn't to be. But that happens a lot, where films line up and the stars look like they're aligning and they didn't."

While Justice League: Immortal never came to be, the film has gained a bizarre sort of notoriety amongst DC fans, who can't help but be curious about what could have been. But hey, at least Brody and Cotrona got a second chance to play superheroes in some way.

Shazam! is in theaters now. Other DC movies include Joker on October 10th, Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) on February 7, 2020, Wonder Woman 1984 on June 5, 2020, The Batman on June 25, 2021, The Suicide Squad on August 6, 2021, and Aquaman 2 on December 16, 2022.