There are so many cheer-out-loud and laugh-out-loud moments peppered all throughout Shazam! From start to finish, Zachary Levi's hit film is an absolute delight. It's fun, full of heart and joy, and truly entertaining throughout the entire thing since the movie smartly doesn't hold all its cards for one massive twist or moment near the end. But one scene in the third act was so perfect that even now, two weekends after the movie’s release, I can’t stop thinking about it.
And heads up: I'm talking major spoilers from the big climax of the movie now, so consider this your final warning.
Now that you've seen Shazam!, we need to discuss those surprise third act cameos. Just when Billy as Shazam thinks he's lost to Doctor Sivana (Mark Strong) and the Seven Deadly Sins, he remembers what the wizard (Djimon Hounsou) first told him when he got magic powers: By opening his heart, he can unlock his full potential. And Billy, who had been struggling with accepting his new foster family as his own throughout the whole movie, finally understands that his found family is his biggest strength.
Billy has his foster siblings Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer), Mary (Grace Fulton), Darla (Faithe Herman), Eugene (Ian Chen) and Pedro (Jovan Armand) gather around his staff and say the magic word: "Shazam!" And boom, just like it happened with Billy earlier in the movie, all of a sudden there are five new, adult superheroes where the kids once stood.
This twist was already amazing as it doubled down on the wholesome, kind message of the movie in an exciting way, as Billy realized that sharing his power with his found family only makes him stronger. But then the smoke clears and you can see the actors playing the adult superhero versions of the kids and you realize just how epic this twist really is.
Adam Brody is superhero Freddy. I repeat: Adam Brody is superhero Freddy!
Shazam! somehow managed to keep this a secret in the months leading up to the movie's release, and it makes the surprise cameo even better. Brody's casting is legendary for a few different reasons. First, he literally is the grown version of Freddy. He has the same exact energy, the same exact laugh, the same mischievous joy audiences had seen all throughout the movie when Grazer played him. Brody may be an adult, but he captured the geeky teen boy vibe down to all the tiny mannerisms.
And that's because Brody had been ready for this moment for over a decade. His debut as a big screen superhero is the payoff The O.C. fans have been waiting so long to see.
It's been 12 years since Brody played Seth Cohen (above), another teen boy obsessed with comic books and superheroes and struggling with his place in the world and bullies at school, but it's clear from his performance in Shazam! that he hasn't lost the charm that instantly made him iconic back on the Fox drama. And to think, Seth created his own comic to make himself a hero back on The O.C. If only Seth Cohen could have looked into the future and known that he would eventually become one in real life!
Shazam! casting Brody also makes good on finally making the actor a part of the DC family, as he was originally supposed to play the Flash in George Miller’s Justice League movie, but that movie ended up getting scrapped before Brody could become the superhero he was meant to be. That's why his big reveal means so much in Shazam!.
And he's not alone. His co-star D.J. Cotrona, who plays adult superhero Pedro in the big climax fight scene, was also supposed to be in Miller's Justice League movie playing Superman. Now, he's perfectly cast as the swole fantasy-come-true for young Pedro. And he doesn't just have the muscles for show—his giddiness over being able to hold up a Ferris wheel was enough to make me cheer out loud in theaters.
Lightning really did strike twice with Brody and Cotrona's surprise debut as superheroes, so it would be understandable if the other cameos didn't make as much of an impression. But every single actor cast as the adult superhero versions of the foster kids was so spot on that it really is an embarrassment of riches in one scene.
I was impressed with every single one. From Meagan Goode as adult Darla extraordinarily nailing her sweet innocence and overflowing of love to Ross Butler's sheer exhilaration while he pretends to "Hadouken!" with his new lightning powers to Michelle Borth who infuses Mary's grace and kindness into everything—even when she's kicking major ass. Each adult actor brilliantly portrays their childlike personas to the point where I had no problem buying that these five adults were five rambunctious kids merely moments before.
With so many standout moments in the film, the fact that this one stuck with me long after the credits rolled says more about how much it worked than I ever could. I'm still a little at a loss for words at how perfect the surprise cameos were, so I guess I should just go back to the theater and see Shazam! a few more times until it no longer makes me speechless.
It might be a while.
Shazam!, starring Zachary Levi, Asher Angel and Mark Strong, is now in theaters. To discover more about DC's latest movie, click here.