'Shazam!' Ending, Explained: All That Matters Is Family

The surprise ending of 'Shazam!' features characters who are new, but a superhero concept that's been around for decades.

Billy Batson may be an orphan boy from Philadelphia, but he’s not alone. Not anymore. In the new DC superhero blockbuster Shazam! from director David F. Sandberg, audiences are introduced to an exciting new team of youthful heroes who could give the Justice League a serious run for their money.

Arriving when Billy needs a family the most, these new heroes are one of the oldest supporting characters in comic book history. Here’s all you need to know about them. And yes, be warned: Spoilers for Shazam! ahead.

See also: Our full ‘Shazam!’ movie review and post-credits scene explainer

Towards the end of Shazam!, Dr. Sivana (Mark Strong) has Shazam (Zachary Levi/Asher Angel) on his knees. But the “Big Red Cheese” outsmarts the arrogant scientist and encourages his foster siblings — including Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer), Mary (Grace Fulton), Eugene (Ian Chen), Pedro (Jovan Armand), and Darla (Faithe Herman) — to reach for the enchanted scepter of Shazam.

By calling out his name (“Shazam,” not Billy), Shazam’s power is shared among the kids, who become superheroes of their own and form the Shazam Family for the first time on the big screen.

That’s right: The Shazam Family are in Shazam!

Originally known as the Marvel Family (Shazam’s original name was Captain Marvel, and yes, it’s a long story), the Shazam Family are the supporting heroes of Shazam, serving Shazam’s stories in the same way Robin and Batgirl, and many, many others, support Batman.

Shazam Family Movie
Cover of 'Marvel Family' #1, which featured Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr., and Uncle Marvel.

Created by Otto Binder and Marc Swayze in 1942 at the height of Shazam’s comic book popularity, the Shazam Family include Shazam’s sister Mary Marvel, sidekick, Captain Marvel Jr., and a ton of eccentric characters lost to the Golden Age, such as Uncle Marvel (an old man who wasn’t related to anyone, nor had any actual superpowers), the three Lieutenant Marvels, Kid Eternity, and a well-dressed, talking tiger named Mister Tawky Tawny.

The ‘40s, man.

Shazam Family Movie Ending
The Shazam Family, in 'Justice League' #21. Illustrated by Gary Frank.

The New 52 incarnation of Shazam, written by Geoff Johns who rebooted and modernized the character’s canon (and made the primary comic the film took most of its cues from), featured a new Shazam Family made up of Billy’s foster siblings. Together, they battled Shazam’s main nemesis, Black Adam, who will be played by Dwayne Johnson in a future DC film.

The modern Shazam Family first appeared in powered-up form in Justice League #21, collected in the trade paperback collection Shazam! by Geoff Johns.

Shazam Family Ending Explained
Zachary Levi (center) as Shazam, along with the ensemble cast of 'Shazam!' who form the "Shazam Family."

What Family Means

While it’s unlikely Warner Bros. will green light separate films featuring every individual member of the Shazam Family — although I would love to see Darla star in her own movie — the future of the Shazam! franchise is solidified with the introduction of the Shazam Family.

Besides the fact Geoff Johns is now writing a sequel to his Shazam series, which could influence a second movie, DC may now have a new female superhero franchise in the form of Mary Marvel. In addition to Grace Fulton, Michelle Borth, known for her role as Lt. Rollins in Hawaii Five-0, plays Mary’s adult superhero form in the film.

Of all the members in the Shazam Family, Mary Marvel was perhaps the most popular character to spin out of that franchise. In the ‘40s, she was one of the rare female characters to star in her own series, Mary Marvel, also a hit title until DC’s lawsuit put the kibosh on everything.

Decades later, Mary Marvel would have a big role in the mainstream DC Universe, appearing in books like Crisis on Infinite Earths and Final Crisis, where she battled none other than Wonder Woman.

Mary Marvel Shazam DC
Mary Marvel, along with Wonder Woman and Supergirl, in 'Crisis on Infinite Earths.'

Can such a crossover happen on the big screen? Time will tell, but perhaps it would be useful to figure out a name other than “Mary Marvel.” Because that one’s kind of taken.

Shazam! hits theaters on April 5.

Media via DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Pictures