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Breaking down the Shazam! mid-credits scene and the hints you missed
If you saw Shazam! in theaters, you already know that the movie is ripe with world-building; there are more than a few possible angles for Shazam! sequels as well as spin-offs. Even before the movie's release, Dwayne Johnson had signed on to play Black Adam, Shazam's arch-nemesis, in a standalone DCEU film, which leaves the inevitable sequel wide open. Enter Mr. Mind.
If you're not an avid reader of the DC Comics, you may have been a bit confused when you spotted what seemed to be a caterpillar whispering to the evil Dr. Sivana in the mid-credits scene.
One of Shazam's best/worst villains, Mr. Mind actually had cameos throughout the film. For the keen observer, Mr. Mind could be seen in a glass cage when Dr. Sivana arrives at the Rock of Eternity as a child. Later, the case is shown broken and empty. When Mr. Mind finally reveals himself in the mid-credits sequence, Dr. Sivana is frantically scribbling runes on the wall of his jail cell.
Chastising Sivana, he tells him there are many forms of magic, foreshadowing his evil plans.
"There are more ways than the mind can imagine," he says through the robotic, tinny radio around his neck.
"Oh my god," Sivana replies, as he spies the creature.
"I name the gods, Doctor, not the other way around. Oh, what fun we'll have together. The seven realms are about to be ours. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha."
But what does this tiny foe mean for the Shazam! films' futures?
Introduced in 1943, back when Shazam was still known exclusively as Captain Marvel, Mr. Mind could be considered one the hero's greatest (albeit smallest) foes. He was created by Captain Marvel co-creators Otto Binder and C.C. Beck for Fawcett Comics, appearing as a voice in Captain Marvel Adventures #22 and in physical form four issues later in Captain Marvel Adventures #26.
A high-powered alien worm, Mr. Mind possesses several mind control abilities including hypnosis, image projection, and limited invulnerability. In evolved form, he's also been able to devour space-time in previous storylines.
Mr. Mind is significant because he also ushered in the Monster Society of Evil (a play off the Axis powers), which was the first team of previously introduced supervillains to join up and face off against a superhero. While popular at the time, the original serialized Monster Society run does come with a warning: It's filled with a fair amount of casually racist images. Last year, DC Comics announced it would not reissue that run after some back and forth.
Mr. Mind and the Monster Society have been revived several times through the years, starting in the 1970s and again post-Crisis, as well as up through the 1990s. When the New 52 was launched in 2011, Mr. Mind played a large role in creating the multiverse and grew into one of DC's biggest villains.
Like the Wizard behind the curtain, Mr. Mind works through others to achieve his evil ends. He is said to be hundreds of years old and is immune to Captain Marvel's lightning. The newest version of Mr. Mind comes from the pages of Shazam #2 by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, which also so happens to be a perfect entry point for readers looking to find out more about the Magiclands and the Shazam family.
"Mr. Maxivermis Mind, more commonly known as Mr. Mind, is a despotic magical creature with an insatiable appetite for supernatural power. His singular goal is nothing less than consuming and controlling all the power of the Magiclands," it says.
According to his revised backstory, Mr. Mind is regarded as one of the most dangerous beings ever encountered by the Council of Eternity. He is also suspected to be from the Wildlands, starting out as a lowly bookworm.
Jerry Ordway, creator of the 1995 Shazam reboot The Power of Shazam!, spoke to SYFY WIRE about Mr. Mind and the Monster Society's possible role in a sequel.
"From what I've heard, Black Adam will have a stand-alone movie, so it could make sense to use the Monster Society in a sequel," he said.
Mr. Mind, Ordway said, could step in as a fun villain, tapping into a couple of storylines he used in the Power of Shazam! series.
"I set it up that Mr. Mind could 'drive' a person around by sitting in the ear canal and make them do his will," Ordway said. "That's a pretty open-ended story device, you know? Imagine Mr. Mind in the President's head! Or anyone in a powerful position! Whatever they choose to do, I'm confident the screenwriters will have fun with it!"
In an interview with IndieWire, Shazam! director David F. Sandberg said that while the cameo was fun, there was no plan to set up a sequel. Still...
"I just think it's such a great character, because he's kind of goofy in a way, he's like this super evil mastermind in the body of a little worm," Sandberg said. "We included that without necessarily having a plan for the sequel. It was more like, 'it's a fun character and it's sort of expected these days that you have a post-credits scene.'"
Since there are now a group of Shazam heroes, Ordway said, they need a similar numbered group as a nemesis.
"That's just the way that works! None of the individual villains were all that formidable on their own, but they were interesting and colorful," he said. "I do hope we can keep the focus on Billy, though. Also, Mary didn't get enough to do in Shazam!, so I'm hopeful that she gets her own spotlight in any sequel."
In 2007, writer and artist Jeff Smith revisited the old 1940s comics to create an updated version of Mr. Mind and the Monster Society of Evil for the DC reboot Shazam! Monster Society of Evil. In his four-issue mini-series, Smith depicted Billy as a very young street urchin when the Wizard chooses him to take his place. In turn, Smith depicted the Monster Society as a collective of evil monsters with Mr. Mind as their leader.
"The Monster Society of Evil, besides being the greatest title ever, served as the introduction of Mr. Mind. It was serialized from 1943 to 1945 in Captain Marvel Adventures [#22 to #46]. It was full of monsters, death traps, and craziness," he said.
Smith said he was quick enough to catch the worm munching on a leaf when the young Sivana first walks into the Wizard's cave, but seeing and hearing a full-on Mr. Mind in the end credits "was cool and a complete surprise."
"They went for it! Looks like we might have a Monster Society of Evil sequel," Smith continued. The story was a rambler that seemed to go in so many directions, it's not clear the writers knew exactly where they were going from issue to issue. But that's also why it's perfect for adaptation. In my case, I loosely adapted all the cool bits I liked and filled the story out with all the fun stuff from the rest of the Shazam mythos that I wanted to play with. I can imagine the filmmakers doing the same thing. We know they are going to put Dr. Sivana and Mr. Mind together already, and we did get a look at some crocodile people behind one of the magic doors. That's a promising start!"