Shazam! Fury of the GodsIt was not going to be a movie about the Justice League or an undercover film. Black Adam sequel. The worlds will Not collide for Billy Batson and his superpowered crew of foster kids — and director David F. Sandberg was happy to keep it that way. He was a Swedish filmmaker who got his start in horror films with such classics as The lights are outAnd Annabelle: CreationBefore jumping to DC Comics adaptions, Shazam loves Shazamily, loves Shazamily, is a big fan of Shazamily, and likes to unleash gods and monsters on Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to prove their power. In the sequel, he even put a dome over Philly to keep Batman and Superman — and any questions about Batman and Superman’s whereabouts — at bay.
However, Sandberg was able to push for the DC universe crossover as a meaculpa. Shazam’s wacky headless Superman scene.
[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for the end of Shazam! Fury of the Gods.]
In the final scene of 2019’s Shazam, Billy, in Shazam mode, interrupts Freddy’s lunch to introduce a friend: Henry Cavill’s Superman! Kinda! Superman is not a cameo in person, but he walks in with a cafeteria platter, his head out of focus.
Not exactly what “the fans” may have been looking for out of an interconnected-universe cameo, but it made Sandberg laugh. It was time to for Shazam! Fury of Gods, he knew he wanted to do two things: put Wonder Woman in the movie, and nod to the first movie’s notorious non-appearance.
“Wonder Woman was always in the script,” Sandberg says. “And we wanted to poke fun about the whole headless cameo in the first movie, with Superman. This was to tease the audience a bit. However, Wonder Woman must appear at the end to do that. Otherwise people would be way too pissed off.”
Shazam! Fury of GodsDoes it all. Partway through, in one of the movie’s funniest bits, Billy dreams of going out on a dinner date with the one and only Wonder Woman. From behind, it’s clearly Gal Gadot’s version of the character — but viewers never see her face. Sandberg holds the camera off Diana’s face long enough to draw the gut feeling: Yes, they’re doing it again. And the reversal comes at the exact right moment: When Shazam leans in to get more romantic, it’s the Wizard (Djimon Hounsou) reaching out through telepathic means. We get Hounsou’s face, and Wonder Woman’s everything else.
“I worked with Djimon before on Quick 7,” says Fury of Gods screenwriter Chris Morgan, “and in some roles he can come off stoic and strong or whatever, but man, that guy’s really, really funny. And so the chance to bust out with the Wizard a little bit was just too much to resist.”
Co-writer Henry Gayden also praises Djimon for punching up the movie’s comedic moments. Sandberg placed Freddy (Rachel Zegler) behind the actor as they performed their dialog with talking hands. The script was gold, not the script. “Djimon really just took over there and made everything funnier,” Gayden says.
But as Sandberg says, the team couldn’t just go for the joke with a Wonder Woman cameo. The character actually solved an important script problem: Who could bring back Billy Batson from the grave? The In Fury of Gods’ climax, Shazam goes toe-to-toe with Kalypso (Lucy Liu) and her electricity-spewing dragon. But he loses, even though he wins. Sandberg and his writers even provide a coda to the scene, where the family grieves Billy’s death at the grave. But no 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,” Sandberg says, “but I didn’t really believe it. It was because of that first movie. And even when we shot most of the scene, they were like, ‘Oh, she’s not gonna make it here on this day, so we’ll go shoot it with a stand-in and then pick up her pieces later on.’ I’m like, Okay, it’s not true.. I thought of plan B. Is there any other god that could resurrect Hespera? What would it take to bring Hespera home? That’s gonna be lame after she died. But then it actually did happen!”
Sandberg was genuinely delighted to have Gadot in the film over the telephone, even though the future of DC movies is uncertain. The planned Wonder Woman 3Starring the actor in the role is not possible anymore. Fury of GodsShe gave her last bow. Sandberg still had fun with the cameo, despite the significance of it.
“Even at the end, when she does show up, there’s that first shot of her where her head is out of frame,” the director says with a laugh. “But really quickly, we tilt up just to not have people just leave the theater in frustration. [laughs] I was so thrilled about getting to work with Gal and to have her in the movie because it’s a really nice payoff, and makes up for a headless cameo!”
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