Among the many things that Marvel’s Cinematic Universe got right, and which WarnerMedia’s DC Comics-based movies did not—and you know you’re in a bad spot, franchise-wise, when a news article about your latest film-making disappointments begins with a direct comparison to how your competitors so thoroughly kicked your ass—is in the degree of buy-in it got from its massive, charisma-bedecked cast of stars. Obviously, we’re not privy to all the deals involved in getting, say, Mark Ruffalo to show up for a Thor movie, or Robert Downey Jr. to play surrogate dad in a Spider-Man. But Marvel managed to create the impression that anything was game, crossover-wise, fostering relationships with its stars that allowed its writers to treat their characters like so many action figures being thrown together joyfully on a 11-year-old’s bedroom floor.
In contrast, the DC films—which have typically thrived in inverse proportion to how heavily they’re meant to tie into Warner’s wider franchise ambitions, with largely standalone movies like Aquaman and Wonder Woman coming out on top—has never managed that knack for interconnectivity. It got bad enough a few years ago that the studio was unable to swing a cameo from its signature star, Henry Cavill’s Superman, to show up at the end of David F. Sandberg’s charming and largely low-key Shazam. (Supes still appears, but only from the neck down, and played by stunt performer Ryan Handley.) We’re sure there were perfectly sound reasons for Cavill (who was originally planned to show up) not to appear in the film—god knows where in his facial hair cycle he was at the moment—but it’s easy to read as a sign as a fundamental disconnect at the heart of the franchise, one that seemed built to leave the universe in a situation where it briefly had 2 Jokers, 0 Batmen, and no clear direction of where it was going next.
All of which is to note a report from Variety today, stating that we shouldn’t be holding our breath for Cavill’s Superman to show up in Shazam 2, either. Cavill—who filmed new scenes for Zack Snyder’s Justice League, increasingly looking like the monochromatic four-hour gravestone being dropped atop this first incarnation of the DC Films—has said that he’s not done with the character of Superman just yet, but it apparently won’t be for Sandberg’s sequel. (The director has made it clear on Twitter that he can’t comment on casting, but Variety notes it’s gotten the news from multiple unnamed sources.) This, despite the fact that a team-up between Cavill’s experienced superhero and Zachary Levi’s kid in an adult’s body feels like a natural fit; where else is Billy Batson going to learn all about the importance of snapping bad guy necks?
The news also comes not long after DC Films made it clear that Ray Fisher wouldn’t be returning for a planned appearance in the Flash movie (which will also reportedly include a cameo from Michael Keaton’s Batman). This, of course, came after Fisher’s long campaign of critiques of the studio, both of the way Justice League was filmed, and of DC Films president Walter Hamada’s handling of the aftermath of the scandal
Anyway: No Superman in Shazam 2. Maybe he’ll pop up in Black Adam instead?