The closer we get to Warner Bros.' Hall H presentation at Comic-Con International, the more we learn about director David F. Sandberg's Shazam! First came an official look at Zachary Levi as the DC superhero, followed by Asher Angel's Billy Batson with Freddy Freeman. With that latter image, released Tuesday, arrives the first real clues about how connected Shazam! is to the DC Extended Universe.
Even before the disappointing commercial and critical response to Justice League, Warner Bros. began to explore a less-rigid approach to the continuity of its shared universe with Wonder Woman, Aquaman and, it seemed, Shazam! Developed by the studio's New Line Cinema subsidiary, and tonally distinct from the previous chapters of the DCEU, yet "firmly set in the DC Universe," it was unclear where, or how, a wish-fulfillment story about a boy who's transformed into a superhero by uttering a magic word fit in among the likes of Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. Superman, Batman and the Justice League might exist in Billy Batson's world, but are they the same heroes audiences have been introduced to over the past five years?
We now have not only the answer to that, but also to when the events of Shazam! take place.
The new image, released Tuesday, depicts Jack Dylan Glazer's fanboy Freddy Freeman showing his collection of superhero memorabilia to Billy Batson (Angel). An inspection of his bedroom shrine reveals a copy of Time magazine with "An Act of War?" on its cover, addressing the Kryptonian invasion from 2013's Man of Steel. To its left, is a Batarang, although we don't yet know whether it's a genuine souvenir of Batman's crime-fighting activities, or merely a replica. Before the events of 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the Dark Knight of the DCEU operated essentially as an urban legend. But after Batman fought alongside the Justice League to repel Steppenwolf's invasion, the vigilante undoubtedly received worldwide attention, propelling him into a celebrity of sorts.
On the far right, there's a framed copy of the Daily Planet, whose headline blares, Superman Is Back." That's clearly a reference to the Man of Steel's resurrection in 2017's Justice League. A careful look at the plastic bag in Freddy's hand reveals a mangled bullet, accompanied by a certificate of authenticity, a trinket salvaged following a confrontation between the Man of Steel and armed criminals, and then sold to collectors.
— David F. Sandberg (@ponysmasher) July 17, 2018
Freddy appears particularly enamored with Superman, as he also owns a hat that bears the DCEU's version of the House of El insignia and a drinking cup emblazoned with the more classic symbol from the comics. When you add in a Batman action figure and what looks to be an extensive comic book collection, it's safe to assume that the Justice League's efforts to save the world have made them global icons.
We previously had a vague idea that Shazam! takes a place in a DC Universe, but we now know that the upcoming film is firmly established in the DCEU. Does that mean one of the members of the Justice League will actually appear in the film? We don't know, but suddenly all those Henry Cavill cameo rumors sound much more plausible.
Arriving April 5, 2019, Shazam! is directed by David F. Sandberg and stars Asher Angel as Billy Batson, Zachary Levi as Shazam, Mark Strong as Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, Djimon Hounsou as an ancient wizard named 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 Vázquez and Marta Milans as Rosa Vázquez.