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Shazam!'s Deepest DC Reference Wasn't On Purpose

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Shazam!, in theaters now.

During the climactic battle in Shazam!, Billy Batson shares his magical powers with his foster family, transforming them into adult superhero versions of themselves known as the Shazam Family.

Two of the actors portraying the adult versions of Billy's empowered family are Adam Brody as Freddy Freeman and D.J. Cotrona as Pedro Peña. Over a decade ago, the two actors signed on to star in George Miller's Justice League Mortal as the Flash and Superman, respectively, before the production was cancelled. However, according to Shazam! director David F. Sandberg, the two actors' shared history on the cancelled project was a complete coincidence when it came to their casting.

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"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," explained Sandberg in an interview with 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.”

Justice League Mortal was ultimately cancelled due to concerns over its budget and the 2008 writers' strike. Fortunately for Brody and Cotrona, the two actors got to play a part in the DC Universe after all.

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Directed by David F. Sandberg, Shazam! stars Asher Angel as Billy Batson, Zachary Levi as Shazam, Mark Strong as Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, Djimon Hounsou as the wizard Shazam, Grace Fulton as Mary Bromfield, Jack Dylan Grazer as Frederick “Freddy” Freeman, Ian Chen as Eugene Choi, Jovan Armand as Pedro Peña, Faithe Herman as Darla Dudley, Cooper Andrews as Victor Vásquez and Marta Milans as Rosa Vásquez.

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