We all know, by now, what happened in the already infamous post-credits scene of ‘Black Adam’: the one who was going to be the new antihero of DC was face to face with Superman, who told him a cursory “We have to talk.” Days later we learned that James Gunn planned to remove Henry Cavill, Dwayne Johnson from his DC Universe and erase this plot entirely. The same thing has happened now in ‘Shazam! The fury of the gods’, which he has tried to shape a universe that is not cohesive and reaches its end before feeling unique. And maybe it’s time to ask Warner to remove the unnatural cameos, because they don’t do anyone any good.
Warning, spoilers! In this article I will talk about two cameos from ‘Shazam! The fury of the gods’ and its end. If you don’t want to know anything about the movie, don’t read on!
a deformed universe
“My favorite moment in the Marvel movies is when you sit through nine minutes of credits to watch a five second clip of a guy appearing through a door and saying ‘It’s me, Blorko’“: This famous tweet perfectly encapsulates many of Marvel’s problems in its phase 4. The cameos of unknown characters that are resumed decades later have ended up being a recurring joke, but it’s not that DC has been able to take advantage of their difference : have a similar problem… And, at the same time, very different.
Let’s start from the obvious: Marvel, whether we like it more or less, has managed to create a cohesive universe. We believe that Shang-Chi lives in the same world as Spiderman and Thor, or that Ms Marvel has lived through the snap and the invasion of the Chitauri. But DC has not been able to hit the right key. Yes, it’s clear that Henry Cavill’s Superman, Ben Affleck’s Batman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman share a universe, but… And Shazam? And Blue Beetle or Black Adam? Does the public know that ‘Joker’ and ‘The Batman’ belong to another universe?
In his eagerness to clarify things for the public that has no interest in doing a university degree in comic universes, DC has tried to unite its new (and ultimately, last) films from that world that he started creating a decade ago. And if in ‘Black Adam’ Superman planted the flag of an alliance that would never come, in ‘Shazam! The fury of the gods’ embarrassment doubles with the appearance of Wonder Woman in a scene that seems taken from a parody.
This revives a dead person
If you’ve seen the movie, you know what I’m talking about: in a papier-mâché set, and after having experienced an adventure that cost Billy Batson his life, Wonder Woman appears from behind an arch in a very convenient way, activates the staff to revive him and goes back to where he came from, leaving questions, incomprehension and some embarrassment in the environment. An absolutely undignified script in a movie with a 125 million dollar budget it fails to mask that DC doesn’t know how to make its cameos look like anything other than a clear marketing stunt.
And the proof is that both ‘Black Adam’ and the second part of ‘Shazam!’ have based part of their promotion on the presence of Henry Cavill and Gal Gadot, who They only show up for a couple of minutes to fulfill the ballot. A cohesive universe is much more than a forced appearance and a couple of names thrown here and there. It takes a knowledge of your relationshipthat the characters interact with each other more often and references to events that they have lived together.
Hawkeye may never team up with the new Captain America again, but no one doubts that they are part of the same universe without the need for Sam Wilson to drop by his series. It feels natural, real and organic, far from the surprise appearances of the DC triplet destined to save the day and go back the way they came.
Determined to be friends
Why does Wonder Woman come out to help Shazam out of nowhere? Do you know him? And if he knows him from her, why hasn’t he helped him before her and we’ve only heard about her from Billy’s erotic fantasies? Her appearance is an example of the producer’s clumsiness right now: instead of building relationships little by little, force them shoehorn in hand to try to grow a franchise that we already know will not survive.
James Gunn should take careful note of the things he shouldn’t do when creating his first superhero phase: if you’re trying to give the feeling of a world where everyone is friends, you have to create a presentation and evolve the relationship between the two. The fight between Captain America and Iron Man in ‘Civil War’ was exciting because there was a previous friendship between the two and its consequences resonated until ‘Avengers Endgame’. However, the first time we saw Batman in this world was hitting Superman: if there is no preparation and try to rush the friendship of the heroes, the result is not the epic encounter it is intended to be, but rather a bland and unfunny concoction.
Marvel is doing a lot of things wrong, but the end of the DC Extended Universe is being an absolute disaster in which the cameos are simply the tip of the iceberg. The good part? It is possible that in the new management team they are taking good notes to improve when their turn comes. The bad? That not even the appearance of characters from ‘The Peacemaker’ trying to recruit Shazam is capable of convincing us, at this point, that this is something more than a simple publicity maneuver that, seeing the result at the box office, has not gone well.
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