Warning: SPOILERS for Shazam!
The Shazam! movie mentions almost every member of the DCEU’s Justice League, but the film’s coolest secret actually connects Billy Batson’s story directly to the romance between Harley Quinn and Joker. Did YOU spot it?
As the comic book fans likely already know Shazam! is FILLED with Easter Eggs that most viewers will completely miss. But one of the best touches forms a direct link between Billy Batson’s rise to superheroics… and the romance between Joker and Harley Quinn in David Ayer’s Suicide Squad. The best part? The connection isn’t just in the fiction of the DCEU, but the real world, too.
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Those audience members who decided to stick around and see the post-credits scene for Shazam! or even the faceless Superman cameo may think be worried that they missed a pivotal detail, but fear not. The actual connection between Billy Batson, Freddy Freeman, Joker, and Harley is forged much earlier in the movie, when the boys are trying to discover just how many superpowers Billy’s magical form can exhibit.
His use of electricity, super speed, super strength, and bullet immunity all become clear in the first night of testing. But with the possibilities truly appearing endless, Billy and Freddy decide to ditch class, head to an abandoned warehouse on the outskirts of Philadelphia, and start to discover what Billy–sorry, ‘Thundercrack’ is truly capable of. The process is a complex one, finding Billy flossing, punching through concrete walls, shattering cinder blocks, and being unwittingly set on fire. But it isn’t the tests fans will want to be watching.
The empty warehouse might seem boring, but one shot of the testing trials reveals a corporate logo left behind amidst the metal beams and massive tanks. The logo is that of ACE Chemicals, one of the most notorious corporations in all of the DC Comics Universe. Why? Because they were the makers of the very toxins that transformed a normal man into the bleached-skinned, green-haired, crazed and maniacal Joker. ACE Chemicals has shown up numerous times in DCEU movies as a Gotham institution, but the remnants of its Philadelphia operation are no coincidence. Believe us, it gets weirder.
Fans may not have realized it, but they have already watched one other scene of testing and discovery set inside an ACE Chemicals factory in the DCEU. While it’s never explicitly said that Jared Leto’s Joker in Suicide Squad went through the exact same origin story, his decision to let Dr. Harleen Quinzel prove her love leaves little doubt. Heading directly to ACE Chemicals, Joker asks Harley to take the same plunge he did, leading to their so-called ‘chemical wedding’ in the vat of toxins (that recolor her as it did him).
Thankfully there are no such toxins left behind in Philly (we hope) along with the company’s logo, but there’s an even more incredible explanation for the ACE Chemicals branding. The empty warehouse in which Billy and Freddy test Shazam’s powers is actually the Hearn Generating Station, a now decommissioned electrical generating station outside of Toronto, Ontario. That’s the exact same location used for ACE Chemicals during Suicide Squad, meaning this link between films, heroes, and villains could be an intentional move by director David F. Sandberg… or could just be a case of spray painted set decoration being left up to do the work for them.
Either way, the bonds between the different branches of the DCEU have grown in number, pulling two of the most polar opposite movies closer than almost any other. Not to mention making us crave a crossover between Shazam and Harley Quinn more than we expected.
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