Does a comic-book movie even qualify as a comic-book movie unless it’s stuffed with Easter eggs? Shazam! Fury of the Gods certainly fits the bill with its crop of references to the wider DC universe (note the lower-case ‘u’) and the comic books, as well as to movies and TV shows that apparently exist within it (all Warner Bros fare, naturally).
Shazam’s DCEU journey began in 2019, with Zachary Levi playing the role of the (physically) grown-up superhero alter ego of teenager Billy Batson (Asher Angel). In that origin story, we saw him bestowed with powers by the wizard Shazam, who nominated Billy to be his champion.
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At the end of that film, Billy’s family was also endowed with powers and the Shazamily was born. Fury of the Gods finds the siblings trying to work together to keep the city safe while Billy doubts his credentials as a bonafide superhero. Just the wrong time, then, to face a trio of visitors known as the Daughters of Atlas, armed with god-like powers and intent on taking back what they see as theirs and destroying Earth in the process.
We don’t need god-like powers, or even an atlas, to help us find Shazam! Fury of the God’s best Easter eggs, references, and cameos – just a keen eye and a little bit of knowledge.
Here are our pick of the best.
Warning: Spoilers for Shazam! Fury of the Gods follow...
OG Billy Batson
The camera lingers on a group of Shazam fans towards the end of the film – and one of those gathered might seem more familiar than the others. Amid Billy Batson’s struggle to settle on a name for his superhero alter ego, the man in question calls out his favoured name for the powered hero – Captain Marvel, Shazam’s original name in the comic books.
The actor playing this character is none other than Michael Gray. In the 1970s, there was a TV series adaptation of Shazam! that starred Gray as Billy Batson.
In Shazam! Fury of the Gods, Gray is seen wearing the same red shirt with yellow collar and cuffs as his character Billy Batson in the TV show.
Batty for Batman
There are various nods to Batman scattered throughout Fury of the Gods – mainly in the form of memorabilia in Billy’s home and superhero lair aka the Rock of Eternity. There’s a mug with a Batman logo; there’s a sketch on Billy’s bedroom wall (alongside one of the Flash). There’s even a soft toy and action figure in the paediatrician’s office.
But the best one? Freddy’s T-shirt which cleverly presages the flying creatures we’ll see later, yes, but also features a bat wearing a yellow utility belt, and a robin channeling the Caped Crusader’s famous sidekick.
Starro. Remember him? How could you forget? The giant starfish villain that was one of the highlights of James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad pops up in Fury of the Gods – standing for the letter ‘S’ on the alphabet poster on the wall of the doctor’s office. You’ll also see that the character has been drawn on a blackboard in the same shot to the right of the screen.
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Look closer and you’ll also see that representing the letter T is an ape – it’s Titano the Super-Ape. This super-villain from the comic books was created after being sent into space as a chimpanzee called Toto and being exposed to rays that made him grow to a supersized form. He was an enemy of Superman. We can presume that Titano is confirmed as existing in the DC universe. The soon-to-be discontinued DC Extended Universe, at least.
We love when a movie references itself, and in the case of Shazam! Fury of the Gods, the pediatrician sequence gives us a canny insight into what will pan out in the film, if we look closely.
The doctor has a glass unicorn statue behind him, another soft toy unicorn in the play area, and an apple ornament on his desk. If you’ve seen the film, you’ll know these foreshadow what’s to come.
Superman cameo callback
On the subject of the franchise referencing itself, this is one that looks back rather than forward, when Freddy takes his new school crush Anne (Rachel Zegler) to the table in the school canteen where he met Superman, whose face we didn’t see, at the end of the first film.
He tells Anne all about his encounter.
Wonder Woman and the Justice League
The previous Shazam! film didn’t shy away from referencing the wider DCEU characters from the Justice League, largely because Billy and Freddy hero worship them. Billy references the Flash, Batman, and Aquaman when speaking to the doctor, and as we’ve already mentioned, there are other nods throughout.
Billy’s admiration for the JL has developed into a full-blown crush on one member in particular: Wonder Woman. Alongside a number of plushie toys in her form in the doctor’s office, there’s also a dream sequence featuring Diana on a date with Billy. We might not see her face here (it transforms into the wizard’s) but we do see it earlier in a newspaper clipping on the wall and then again in person at the end when she raises Billy from the dead.
Whether Wonder Woman or any of the others feature in the new rebooted DC Universe remains to be seen, but the Flash film’s introduction of the multiverse means that her inclusion here, should Shazam remain in the fold going forward, isn’t such a big deal if Gal Gadot’s version of Diana from Themyscira gets shelved.
Movies, movies, movies (and a TV series)
Among the references to Batman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman et al, there are also references to other Warner Bros properties.
You’ll spot Freddy wearing a Gremlins T-shirt at the end, as well as a Goonies T-shirt at another time. He also sports an Iron Giant T-shirt early on. There is also a fun reference to the Fast and Furious franchise. When Billy in superhero form is talking to Hespera, he tells her that it’s all about family – which is a big thing with those films just as it is in the Shazam! franchise.
But the best thing about this is that Hespera is played by Helen Mirren – who also starred in the Fast and Furious franchise. Billy tells her he’s seen all the Fast and Furious movies – which leads to a head-spinning conundrum for us.
Another movie reference you might spot is an Annabelle poster in Billy’s bedroom, and — creepier — an Annabelle doll in the pediatrician’s office. Annabelle also popped up in the first movie. Shazam! Fury of the Gods helmer David Sandberg directed Annabelle: Creation.
One final notable reference is when Billy as Shazam calls Lucy Liu’s Kalypso ‘Khaleesi’ when she’s flying atop her dragon. This is a nod to Emilia Clarke’s dragon-riding Daenerys Targaryen, who adopted the title of Khaleesi after marrying Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones.
Mortal Kombat II
In the Shazam family’s superhero lair within the Rock of Eternity, among the cool stuff is a Mortal Kombat II arcade game. Mortal Kombat was rebooted as a movie franchise by Warner Bros in 2021.
When Billy tells Freddy about his dream, in which he was on a date with Wonder Woman whose face then morphed into the Wizard’s, Freddy suggests that Shazam could be “Obi-Wan Kenobiing” him from the Great Beyond.
Freddy doesn’t use the term “Force Ghost”, instead he refers to it as astral projection.
Among the many references to Greek mythology, the triskelions, or magic symbols, that appear on Anthea’s hands when she displays her powers are notable because in the rival Marvel comics and the MCU, the Triskelion is the name of SHIELD’s island headquarters.
But the triskelion is also an ancient symbol, associated with ancient Greek culture.
Nyx and Hades
Nyx gets a mention, as the goddess of night and death. She has appeared as a character in the comic books, her first appearance being Batwoman Vol 2 #13 in December 2012. Nyx is a Greek goddess.
Hades is also referred to (as “Uncle Hades”) by Hespera right before she’s struck down by Kalypso. Hespera tells her sister that her fanatical tone echoes his. In the comics, Hades is the brother of Zeus and Poseidon, and Wonder Woman’s uncle. Hades first appeared in Wonder Woman Vol 4 #5 in 2012.
One of the creatures that emerges from a gelatinous sac at the film’s climax is a minotaur, which is a creature from Greek mythology. But minotaurs appear in the comics too. They’re creatures with the head of a bull and a humanoid body.
A minotaur named Ferdinand from the comics was a friend of Wonder Woman’s, but we’re pretty sure the one we see in Fury of the Gods isn’t Diana’s mate.
Harping on about harpies
The finale of Shazam! Fury of the Gods also unleashes harpies on the Shazamily. These also originate from Greek mythology but have a place in the comic books too. A harpy has the body of a vulture and the face of a human woman.
Harpies first appeared in Green Lantern Vol 2 #82 in 1971.
Another of the creatures released to attack the Shazamily is a winged lion. Interestingly, there’s an Ancient Greek deity known as Aion who commonly took the form of a winged lion – that is, he had a human body and a lion’s head, with wings sprouting from his back.
In the DC comics, a character called Aion, the son of Batman and Catwoman, wore a costume based on the mythical winged lion god of the same name.
The room with all the books and the giant TV screen in the Shazamily lair could be a reference to the Historama from the comics.
The Historama is a source of knowledge for the wizard Shazam and has appeared as either a magic TV-screen allowing him to see into the past, present, and future or as a book that he can ask to reveal anything he wants to know. Steve the pen in the film behaves a bit like this.
And we have to say, we’re thankful for Steve the pen – he provides some of the funniest moments in the film.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods is in cinemas now. Watch a trailer.