Shazam 2's (other) major cameos make no sense

Shazam! Fury of the Gods spoilers follow.

Mid- and post-credit scenes in comic-book films aren't, at this point, merely a tradition – they're a full-blown institution. And so, despite Shazam's uncertain future within DC's cinematic universe, it comes as absolutely no surprise that his sequel, Shazam! Fury of the Gods, comes with not one but two postscript teases.

Whether they'll have any real impact down the line, considering Fury of the Gods was shot before James Gunn and Peter Safran's official takeover as DC’s head honchos, is questionable. But while the pair have announced ten projects set to consolidate and revamp the DCU from 2025's Superman: Legacy onward, their plans for many of the franchise's existing characters have been deliberately kept under lock and key.

So, these teases can't automatically be sidelined as irrelevant or pointless. And, more importantly, they don't get to excuse themselves from having to make logical sense. This brings us to the first, or mid-credit, scene of Shazam! Fury of the Gods – one which introduces two cameos, from existing characters, that poke doughnut-sized holes into the fabric of this established universe. Sure, this may not be the most obvious of the franchise's inconsistencies, but it does hint at how garbled the old regime's ambitions had become. Read on, if you dare.

shazam fury of the gods trailer
Warner Bros.

Who cameos in the Shazam! Fury of the Gods mid-credits scene?

The mid-credits scene opens with Emilia Harcourt (Jennifer Holland) and John Economos (Steve Agee), of The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker fame, en route to meet with a very special superpowered asset. The two of them, supposedly, are acting on behalf of Amanda Waller (Viola Davis). And the individual they seek, of course, turns out to be Shazam (Zachary Levi), who's not only conveniently saved the planet, but magically returned from the dead.

Harcourt opens with a proposition: "We're here to offer you a spot on the Justice…" – and boom, Shazam interrupts, having assumed she was talking about the Justice League and that he's about to spend a lot more time with his demigod crush, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). His enthusiastic "yes" becomes a little premature when it's clarified that the pair are actually here to convince him to join the Justice Society of America, a group who were first introduced in last year's Black Adam.

Shazam doesn't actually give them a firm answer, since Harcourt and Economos walk away as soon as our hero starts ranting about how misleading the names are. But, why Harcourt and Economos? And how did Waller end up in charge of the Justice Society? Therein lies the problem.

john cena in hbo's peacemaker

What are the Justice Society?

The Justice Society of America features Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo), and Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell). Although – spoiler alert – Doctor Fate kicked the bucket by the end of that film, which presumably leaves a convenient spot open for Shazam, and explains Harcourt and Economos' recruitment drive.

Black Adam, however, did very little to establish how this team functions and where they fit in within the wider DCU. We know they were founded some time ago, with Doctor Fate and Atom Smasher's uncle (Henry Winkler), who originally held the mantle, serving in their ranks.

The team fell apart, only to be later reunited by Hawkman for the events of Black Adam. Their mission within the DCU is a little unclear – there's something about maintaining global stability, and Hawkman draws very clear lines between heroism and villainy.

So why would he get involved with Waller, whose entire mode of operation revolves around (a) her profound distrust of superheroes and their god-like capabilities and (b) the belief that there is no moral line that can't be crossed in the pursuit of getting things done?

Why these cameos don't work

The DCU's timeline largely fits the same chronological order of releases, which means both Black Adam and Shazam! Fury of the Gods take place after the events of The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker.

At this point, Waller has lost control of Task Force X, her supervillain squad, after they mutinied on Corto Maltese and blackmailed her for their freedom – in exchange for keeping secret the dirty truth about America's experiments on the monstrous Starro.

Project Butterfly, which Waller oversaw in Peacemaker, was a total covert operation. Her superiors were left in the dark and she used illegally siphoned funds. And it ended with her own daughter, Leota Adebayo (Danielle Brooks), exposing Project Butterfly, Task Force X, and her entire history of immorality to the public.

So, it's safe to say, Waller isn't exactly on top of her game at the moment. How is it possible that, within all the fallout from Peacemaker, she's still somehow able to corral legitimate superheroes?

Harcourt and Economos were both involved in The Suicide Squad's mass mutiny – they were part of the mission control team who knocked Waller unconscious in order to help the Squad defeat Starro.

It's stated early on in Peacemaker that their assignment to Project Butterfly, which mostly involves babysitting the Squad's least popular member (John Cena), was both a demotion and a form of punishment.

So how, in light of how complicit they were in Leota's decision to go public, are they now acting as Waller's closest aides? And shouldn't Harcourt still be deep in recovery from the life-threatening gunshot wounds she sustained? Healing takes time!

What exactly does Amanda Waller do?

Of course, the major reason Gunn and Safran took over DC was to fix this pervasive lack of continuity – but it's still strange to see, so late in the game, the studio openly attempting to emulate the Marvel model.

Waller is obviously being set up as the DCU's own Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson). Harcourt is presumably its Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders). And Economos is, uh, that guy Tony Stark once caught playing Galaga?

But Waller has always been an antagonistic figure in the franchise, clashing both with our heroes and the United States government, who were initially reluctant to even approve Task Force X. Her amorality is what makes her. And it's allowed her to become one of the consistent highlights of a notoriously spotty franchise.

Hopefully, all will be clarified in the upcoming Waller television series, currently being developed by Watchmen's Christal Henry and Doom Patrol's Jeremy Carver. Gunn has, pointedly, described it as a "continuation of Peacemaker", which suggests it will most likely deal directly with the fallout from Leota's actions.

And, of course, the DCU has the ultimate out with The Flash, which has been teased as a universe reset. So maybe none of this will matter. Maybe it will. Who knows?

Shazam! Fury of the Gods is out now in cinemas.

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