He Charges Phones and Chugs Slushies on Blu Ray!
With all of the hoopla around Stranger Things 3, Far From Home, Comic-Con, etc., it’s been easy to forget about the Blu-ray release of the first-ever Shazam! movie. The post-Zack Snyder film landed on the shelves of retail stores on July 19th, and it’s a shame that it hasn’t received much fanfare because Shazam is a fun superhero flick.
Upon a second viewing, I have been reminded of all the delightful Easter Eggs the filmmakers packed into the film, references to the DC Universe, and other Shazam-related properties. One of the easiest ones to spot was the school the children attended being called “Fawcett Central”, an obvious call out to Fawcett Comics.
Fawcett was one of the original publishers during the Golden Age of Comics and it was also the original home of Shazam before DC Comics purchased Fawcett Comics and all of their properties. It was nice to see the film name-check the original and give credit where it was due.
And what fan of DC Television didn’t leap for joy at seeing Sivana’s dad being played by John Glover, a man most notably known for playing Lex Luthor’s dad Lionel in Smallville? That show was a precursor to the Arrowverse that is currently setting the television world aflame, and we wouldn’t be having a CRISIS of Infinite Earths crossover this Fall without it.
John just thrives on playing a cruel father to future super villains, it seems.
These are all great Easter Eggs, and by no means is this article a complete list of all the ones that are in the movie. But, my favorite Shazam Easter Egg alludes to a character that has never even been in the DC Universe.
Do you remember the scene in the movie where Billy Batson and Freddy Freeman are sneaking around Fawcett Central and they trick a hapless security guard with “M. Moran” on his name tag? It’s a pretty harmless and underwhelming scene, right?
“M. Moran” stands for Michael Moran, a fictional character known today as the one and only “Miracleman”. Originally called “Marvelman”, the name for Mick Anglo’s creation was changed to avoid legal issues with publishing leviathan Marvel Comics. But, that’s just all the historical mumbo jumbo writers rehash in comic book articles, that’s not really important.
What’s important is that Miracleman was a HUGE ripoff of Shazam!, being a mild-mannered human who can transform into a superhero by uttering a ridiculous word. He says “KIMOTA!”, which is phonetically “atomic” backward instead of “SHAZAM!”
It was all good clean pulpy fun, a series that I would’ve never even heard about in my life if it weren’t for comic book legend Alan Moore. Moore, along with artist Garry Leach, rebooted the series in the early eighties. Alan Moore took the Shazam! imitation and made it into a series about government brainwashing experiments, discovering life beyond our existence, and an experiment in fascist utopianism.
Trust me, anything else that I try to write in this article will not do this comic book justice. Marvel Comics recently reprinted the entire Miracleman run by Alan Moore, or “The Original Writer,” as he wishes to not be credited for his work, as well as the brief run of the series written by fellow comics legend Neil Gaiman.
Do yourself a favor and look up this series, read it, and put a smile on your face while seeing Michael Moran the security guard chasing after two kids in a school.
And I’m sure this is a bit of a stretch, but the blue and red lines on the realtor’s office during the scene where Billy and Freddie are trying to ask her about getting their own “Bat Cave” almost remind me of the lines used on the Miracleman book cover designs.
Speaking of stretch, Alan Moore had fun stretching the possibilities of the comic book literary genre. Like Stan Lee before him, Moore revolutionized the genre, mocking the usual tropes of the industry while paying loving homage to them and redefining what stories could be told in 22 pages.
Before that Christopher guy was gaining critical and commercial acclaim for revitalizing the Batman movie series and comic book movies in general with the Batman Begins reboot, Alan Moore was making a living by rebooting the Swamp Thing franchise while also providing a new origin for the Phantom Stranger.
He also told one of the most notorious Batman stories of all time, one that has garnered plenty of controversy in the years since.
Alan Moore re-ignited the DC Universe, only to part ways with them eventually over business issues, to put it mildly. Lord knows what could’ve been if he had only been able to write the “Twilight of the Superheroes” crossover he proposed in 1987 to Marvel’s biggest competitor.
Before all of this, one of Alan Moore’s first big comic projects was the aforementioned Miracleman reboot. It was the gig that brought him into the limelight, DC apparently liked how he wrote a character that was ironically a rip off of a character they bought from another company.
“The Original Writer” had always been a Mick Anglo fan, and he enjoyed taking the concept of silly words igniting magical powers within a lucky human being and updating the concept for a more cynical planet Earth. When Moran explains the phony origin of Miracleman to his wife in the first rebooted issue, his wife laughs hysterically the entire time, and you can hear Alan’s deep voice in every chuckle.
He took the one-dimensional pulp characters and made them complex, twisted and even painfully boring in their humanity. Dr. Gargunza, who was once just a Dr. Sivana knock off, was now a boorish intellectual thug with dreams of immortality and rather prurient desires.
He felt like a prototype that Brad Meltzer used when he changed up the classic Teen Titans villain Dr. Light during the notorious “Identity Crisis” event comic by making him do some very unprintable things.
So who’s up for a Miracleman film? I think it’s one of the only properties written by Dave Gibbons’ favorite scribe that hasn’t been butchered by Hollywood yet. Even though Alan Moore loves to trash talk about each one of them, I rather enjoyed the Watchmen film.
What do you think about this, I told you my favorite Shazam Easter Egg, what is YOUR favorite Easter Egg from the movie?
And how about that Miracleman movie?!
Shazam is now out on Blu Ray and a bunch of other types of media, watch it again and let us know!