This article consists of nothing but Shazam! spoilers. We have a spoiler free review of the film here.
Shazam! continues the arc of recovery we’ve seen in recent DCEU movies. Much like Wonder Woman and Aquaman, it exists firmly within the DC Extended Universe, but also doesn’t spend much time worrying about things like setting up crossovers or potential team-ups in the future (and no, that final scene BEFORE the credits doesn’t count…you know the one we mean). But what it does extraordinarily well is lean into what makes the magical world of the Shazam family so unique in the first place. After all, a character who has been around for 80 years certainly has enough mythology to support a franchise all his own, and doesn’t need help from the Justice League or anyone else.
Shazam! has two after credits scenes, one that happens mid-credits, and one that happens at the very end. The mid-credits scene is by far the more important one, as it introduces a major villain from Shazam history, hints at the future of Dr. Sivana, and lays the groundwork for Shazam 2 (assuming it happens…which hopefully it will). The actual post-credits scene is less important, and instead just plays with the fun elements that come with existing within a broader shared cinematic universe.
Here’s what they both mean.
What Happened to Sivana?
This scene opens with Dr. Sivana, in prison, no longer magically powered. He’s essentially a broken man, having lost the power he had spent his entire life chasing, and he appears to have possibly gone a little mad, compulsively scrawling heiroglyphics and magical symbols on the walls of his cell like a man possessed. Much has been made about how the movie version of Sivana is a more physically “robust” version of the character, who for much of his history was a gnarled, sniveling, cackling mad scientist who wouldn’t pose a physical threat to, well…a worm.
That changed when Geoff Johns and Gary Frank revamped the Shazam origin story in 2011, and re-imagined Sivana as a man obsessed with the acquisition of magical artifacts and powers. Sivana was now physically fit and imposing, much like how Mark Strong portrays him in the film. Much of that comic book story mirrors what we see on screen in the movie, although there’s one flourish from the comics that isn’t explicitly spelled out on screen: Sivana’s mortal body wasn’t meant to contain those magical powers in the first place and started to degrade, and the loss of those powers aged him far beyond his approximately 40 years (and as a result, brings him closer to the more traditional, frail physicality the character is known for). It’s not really obvious whether or not that has happened on screen here, but there’s something about the way he’s hunched over, mumbling, appearing completely broken might hint at a kind of physical degeneration as well.
In any case, Sivana, who has clearly never been one for making human connections, needs a friend. And he appears to have found one.
When you think of Shazam comics, three villains spring to mind: Black Adam, Dr. Sivana…and Mr. Mind. Yes, a telepathic green worm with an appetite for brainwaves and a tiny radio speaker around his neck that allows him to amplify his thoughts to communicate with villains is not only one of the most important villains in Shazam history, but also a fairly groundbreaking little baddie in his own right.
Y’see, Mr. Mind first appeared in 1943, fairly early in Shazam history (which began in 1939 with Whiz Comics #2). He was created by Otto Binder and C.C. Beck, the writer/artist team who are responsible for more of the Shazam legend than likely any other pair in the comics pantheon. In 1943, all comics were anthologies, whether featuring multiple characters in short stories per book, or just multiple short stories per book featuring the same character. In other words, short form storytelling was the order of the day, every day, and cliffhangers that continued month to month were pretty rare. It’s incredibly quaint to imagine a time when superhero comics were actually more self contained than actual modern day superhero movies, but hey, that’s how it was. Hell, even recurring villains were still a relative rarity at this stage of the game. Dr. Sivana was a notable exception, and he even pre-dated other, more famous (and similarly recurring) baddies like The Joker or fellow bald dickheads like Lex Luthor and the Red Skull.
So along comes Mr. Mind, looking like a novelty villain who will be squished by issue’s end or sent off to Venus or stuffed in a bottle in the Rock of Eternity (as we first see him in the Shazam! movie) 12 pages later, right? Wrong. Instead, Mr. Mind is the central figure of what becomes “The Monster Society of Evil” story arc, which stretched over the next two years of a core Shazam title. Mr. Mind’s Monster Society of Evil included Doctor Sivana, Captain Nazi, dozens of weird golden age of comics creations, as well as noted historical assholes like Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussollini (reports that Fred Trump was a card carrying member of the Monster Society of Evil during their heyday couldn’t be verified at the time of this writing). And lest you think this is all whimsical, storybook stuff, it was said that Mr. Mind and friends were responsible for (I shit you not) 186,744 murders during that period, and after he was caught by the Shazam family, he was put on trial (yes, they put a worm on trial), convicted, and executed in an itsy-bitsy worm-sized electric chair because comics are the absolute best and I will not hear a word otherwise.
Anyway, it turned out he was faking (because…comics!) and lived to give the Shazam crew migraines on several other occasions.
Now, if all that isn’t weird and terrifying enough, they’ve added some new dimensions (literally) to the character in recent years. After all, what is a caterpillar but a larva that has yet to evolve into another form, right? And that’s exactly what Mr. Mind did in DC’s 52 series in 2006. Y’see, Mr. Mind’s final form is a “hyperfly,” and brainwaves aren’t enough to feed a fully grown hyperfly…that requires the fabric of the space-time continuum. And you won’t find more space-time anywhere in fiction than the infinitudes contained within the DC multiverse, so he chowed down on that, altering portions of DC Comics continuity in the process. Remember what I said about why comics rule? There you go. I’m sure that by the time I hit publish on this article there will be at least a half-dozen pieces out on the internet speculating that Mr. Mind will be the mechanism by which Warner Bros. chooses to reconcile the bits of the DCEU that they want to sweep under the rug, and the first person to successfully explain all of this to a Warner Bros. executive without losing your mind in the process or getting thrown the hell off the lot will earn my undying respect. Anyway, it ain’t gonna happen, so this is all academic.
What hopefully WILL happen, however, is Shazam 2, and this scene is a perfect setup. In just two minutes of screentime, Shazam! introduces another key piece of DC history, and in the process of recruiting Dr. Sivana, Mr. Mind takes the first steps towards establishing a big screen version of the Monster Society of Evil. He tells Sivana that the two of them together can conquer other magical realms. So what are those realms?
There are seven “Magiclands” accessible from the Rock of Eternity, the Gamelands, the Wildlands, the Darklands, the Funlands, the Monsterlands, the Earthlands (which is presumably our world), and a mystery realm yet to be revealed. These are the subject of the current Shazam! comic book series, the sequel to the one that this movie was based on, and so far, they’d make a pretty good setup for a big screen sequel, too. The Wildlands, for example, is a realm of anthropomorphic animals, including a certain talking tiger who was teased via various Easter eggs and clues throughout the movie.
One other fun note, that’s Shazam! director David F. Sandberg voicing Mr. Mind in this scene.
The Post-Credits Scene
– This one feels less like an actual post-credits scene and more like a deleted scene from elsewhere in the movie when Freddy and Billy were still testing out his Shazam powers. Freddy is even wearing the Aquaman shirt he wears earlier in the film, and this scene was even included in one of the film’s international trailers, which tells you exactly how essential it is.
Nevertheless, it’s funny enough. Freddy has clearly been checking off all the potential superpowers out there, and “talking to fish” is one of Aquaman’s key abilities. Billy’s dismissal of this power as something useless is a jab at how until recent years nobody ever took Aquaman seriously. Freddy corrects him by reminding him of the awesome battle that took place at the end of Aquaman, which is, if nothing else, one of the visual highlights of the DCEU.