WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Shazam!, in theaters now.
While there was a lot to be excited about for Warner Bros.' Shazam!, some fans were disappointed to learn the film wouldn't feature an appearance by Black Adam, the superhero's popular comic book rival. Instead, the introduction of Dwayne Johnson's supervillain/antihero will be saved for his own solo movie, thought to begin production in 2020.
Still, hope remained that Black Adam might play some kind of role in Shazam! Would his name be dropped or Johnson surprise everyone in a post-credits scene? Alas, no, but Black Adam does have a cameo, of sorts.
It arrives early in the film, when Billy Batson (Asher Angel) finds his way to the Rock of Eternity, and comes face to face with the Wizard (Djimon Hounsou). Before he bestows upon Billy the powers that will transform him into Shazam, the Wizard offers a history lesson, using magic to create a hologram-like scene that depicts what's presumably ancient Egypt.
The Wizard explains the Council of Wizards had another champion, but that he become corrupted and used his powers for revenge. As the Wizard talks, he conjures an image of this champion. Although the Wizard doesn't actually name him, DC fans know that he is Teth-Adam, better known as Black Adam. He's only seen in silhouette, rendered in gold, wearing the signature costume and hooded cape from the comics. But the figure sure looks a lot like Dwayne Johnson.
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The holographic nature of the scene makes it difficult to say so confidently, but if audiences look close enough, they'll notice the resemblance.
The scene subtly weaves Black Adam into Shazam's backstory without overshadowing the hero's modern cinematic debut, or diminishing the impact of the villain's introduction in Johnson's much-discussed solo film. Although the mid-credits scene of Shazam! sets up another villain for a potential sequel, this nod to Black Adam, and continuing talk of Johnson's project, will no doubt stoke excitement for the (virtually) inevitable crossover.
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 ancient 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. The film hits theaters April 5.