Shazam! Gods Fury was never going to be a secret Justice League movie or a black adam sequel. worlds would be no collide for Billy Batson and his super-powered team of foster children – and director David F. Sandberg was happy to keep it that way. The Swedish filmmaker, who debuted in the world of horror in films such as Lights off It is Annabelle: Creation before jumping into the world of DC Comics adaptations, loves Shazam, loves Shazamily and loves to unleash hordes of gods and monsters on Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in order to test their power. In the aftermath, he even placed a dome over Philadelphia to keep Batman and Superman – and any questions about Batman and Superman’s whereabouts – at bay.
But there was a big DC universe crossover that Sandberg pushed for, as a mea culpa to the original. shazamcrazy headless Superman scene.
[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for the end of Shazam! Fury of the Gods.]
In the final scene of 2019 shazam, Billy, in Shazam mode, interrupts Freddy’s lunch to introduce a friend: Henry Cavill’s Superman! Type! Instead of a cameo, Superman enters carrying a cafeteria tray, but his head is out of frame.
Not exactly what “the fans” might be looking for in an interconnected universe cameo, but it made Sandberg laugh. And when the time came to Shazam! Gods Furyhe knew he wanted to do two things: put Wonder Woman in the film, and nod to the first film’s notorious non-appearance.
“Wonder Woman was always in the script,” says Sandberg. “And we wanted to poke fun at the whole headless cameo in the first movie with Superman. So we wanted to tease people a little bit. But you can only do that if you actually have Wonder Woman and she shows up at the end. Otherwise, people would be very upset.
Shazam! Gods Fury does everything. Midway through, in one of the funniest parts of the film, Billy dreams of going out to dinner with the one and only Wonder Woman. From behind, it’s clearly Gal Gadot’s version of the character—but viewers never see his face. Sandberg keeps the camera away from Diana’s face long enough to capture the sensation: Yes, they are doing it again.. And the reversal comes at just the right moment: when Shazam leans in to get more romantic, it’s the Wizard (Djimon Hounsou) reaching out via telepathic means. We have Hounsou’s face and all the rest of Wonder Woman.
“I worked with Djimon before in fast 7,” it says Gods Fury screenwriter Chris Morgan, “and in some roles he might come across as stoic and strong or something, but man, this guy is really, really funny. And then the chance to get away with the Wizard for a bit was too much to resist.
Co-writer Henry Gayden also commends Djimon for enhancing the film’s comedic moments. In yet another emotional beat between Freddy and Anthea (Rachel Zegler), Sandberg framed the actor behind them as he delivered dialogue with talking hands. Not in the script, but gold. “Djimon really took control and made it funnier,” says Gayden.
But, as Sandberg says, the team couldn’t just make a joke out of a Wonder Woman cameo. In fact, the character solved a major script problem: Who was godly enough to bring Billy Batson back from the dead? In Gods Fury‘ climax, Shazam goes toe-to-toe with Kalypso (Lucy Liu) and her electricity-spewing dragon. He wins, but not without sacrifice. Sandberg and the writers even provide a coda for the moment, in which the family mourns the loss of Billy in his grave. But not so fast: there’s one more child of the gods still roaming the DC universe, and her name is Diana.
“She was in the script from the beginning, which was exciting,” says Sandberg, “but I didn’t really buy it. Because of the experience on the first film. And even when we shot most of the scene, they were like, ‘Oh, she’s not going to get here today, so let’s shoot with an understudy and get her parts later.’ I am like, Oh ok that will never happen. So I started thinking of a plan B: What other god can we get to resurrect him? Would we need to bring Hespera back? This is going to be boring after she dies. But then it really happened!
Over the phone, Sandberg seemed genuinely thrilled to have Gadot appear in the film, even as the future and past of DC movies are in question. a planned Wonder Woman 3 played by the actor is no longer expected to happen, making Gods Fury his final reverence. But the importance of the cameo didn’t stop Sandberg from having fun with it.
“Even at the end, when she appears, there’s that first shot of her where her head is out of frame,” says the director with a laugh. “But very quickly, we leaned in just to not let people leave the theater frustrated. [laughs] I was so thrilled to work with Gal and have her in the movie because it’s such a nice payoff and makes up for a headless cameo!”