Director David F. Sandberg Discusses All Those Cameos In ‘Shazam! Fury of the Gods’
Four years after his first big-screen adventure, the red-suited titular hero returns to theaters for an even bigger battle in Shazam! Fury of the Gods. Once again helmed by director David F. Sandberg, the film is chock full of references to Shazam’s comic lore and the rest of the DC Extended Universe.
Heads up, this is your spoiler warning.
Though new DC Studios co-chairman James Gunn recently praised how disconnected the Shazam! films have been from the other heroes, DC fans will be sure to enjoy sightings of some popular characters, including Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and Peacemaker’s Emilia Harcourt (Jennifer Holland) and John Economos (Steve Agee).
As spectacular as it was to witness Gadot’s Wonder Woman appear in the film, Sandberg was unsure if it would even happen. The 2019 Shazam! was supposed to feature a cameo with Henry Cavill, though due to scheduling conflicts, the Superman actor’s scene was never filmed so Sandberg had to make do with a stand-in actor and cutting off the frame below Superman’s face. When Gadot could not make the initial filming dates, Sandberg was worried that history would repeat itself.
“She was always in the script, but I was like, ‘Are we sure this is going to happen?’ And then on the day we were shooting, they said, ‘She’s not going to be able to make it here, so we’ll just have to shoot a stand-in and then pick up the pieces,’” Sandberg said. “So I was actually starting to think like, ‘So when we don’t get her, how do we solve this?
“But then it actually happened, which I’m happy about. If she hadn’t shown up in the end, we could never do that scene with the Wizard head-on because you can only do that scene if she actually shows up at the end. Fans would be like, ‘Another headless Cavill? What the fuck are you doing?’ We wanted to make fun of the cameo at the end of the first one. And even at the end, when she does show up, and we first cut to her, I did frame it with the head out.”
As previously mentioned, Holland’s Harcourt and Agee’s Economos characters from The Suicide Squad films and Peacemaker show to make an appearance in a mid-credit scene, sent to recruit Shazam for the Justice Society. Though the scene had always been part of the plan, it was supposed to feature different characters.
“It all had to change last minute after we’d already built the set and had the time, and I still wanted to do the scene,” said Sandberg. “So Peter Safran, who produced Peacemaker, made some calls, and thankfully Jen Holland and Steve Agee were able to come down and do that scene.”
But Holland and Agee are not the only Peacemaker stars to cross over into the world of Shazam. Rizwan Manji, who plays the janitor Jamil in the show and appears as a museum curator in Fury of the Gods, was suggested to Sandberg by Safran, a casting decision which initially also confused the director.
“When we cast him, I hadn’t seen Peacemaker, it hadn’t come out yet. It’s the same universe, but Peter said he has a tiny role that doesn’t matter,” Sandberg said. “And then when I saw Peacemaker, he’s in the intro dancing around. What do you mean tiny? He’s there! But I mean it’s his twin brother or something that lives in Greece and works at a museum.”
Since Safran and Gunn both worked on Peacemaker, these cameos could be a sign that the door is being left open for Shazam to enter into the new DC Universe, though there is no word yet if the hero is included in any plans. On the other hand, they could just be fun cameos that will delight viewers in the know.
Rounding out the cameo list was the return of Mark Strong’s Doctor Sivana, the villain of the previous Shazam!, as well as the alien worm Mister Mind, who was voiced by Sandberg himself and was previously teased in a post-credit scene.
Initially, Sandberg wanted Fury of the Gods to feature Sivana and Mister Mind as the reason why the gods are summoned to Earth, though the characters were cut because they made the plot feel overstuffed. If a third Shazam film does come to fruition, Sandberg said that he would use it as a payoff for these teases and feature the duo as the main villains.
“When we were exploring where to go with this movie, and Sivanna and Mister Mind were in it, there was actually a moment when Sivanna died,” Sandberg said. “But we felt like, you can’t do that. He’s like Lex Luthor, you can’t kill him in the second movie; you want to get more out of him. But I’m glad we got to at least do a fun little thing at the end because I know people are going to be like, ‘Wait, what happened to the worm?’ He’s still working on something, it just takes some time.”