‘Shazam’: Who’s That Strange New Character in the Post-Credits Scene?
The following post contains SPOILERS for Shazam. You want to know who was that weird worm dude in Shazam, we’ve got to get into spoilers. Those are the rules.
There is a famous quote about movies, often attributed Jean-Luc Godard — although he claimed he borrowed it from D.W. Griffith — that all you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun. Whoever said it, they were incorrect. In fact, film requires three essential components: A girl, a gun, and a hyper-intelligent alien worm with telepathic powers. And so, at last, we have Shazam, the first true work of art in American cinema history.
The worm appears during the film’s post-credits scene, to what I am going to assume will be the enormous and near-unanimous bafflement of audiences. After Shazam (Zachary Levi) defeats the evil Dr. Sivana (Mark Strong), the super-villain winds up in prison, confined to a cell. He’s scribbling on the walls, when he hears a voice talking to him. Sivana then discovers the person speaking isn’t a person at all — it’s a tiny worm.
This sequence is pulled, nearly verbatim, from the recent Shazam comics series by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank which inspires a lot of the movie — including the depiction of Billy Batson as the member of a large adopted family who all get their own costumes and powers by the end of the movie, and a Dr. Sivana who can see magic through a special eye. Here is the very last two panels of that series:
Sivana’s new friend is named Mister Mind. He only makes a brief appearance in Shazam — although if you’re watching closely, you’ll see him in one shot in the wizard’s lair, foreshadowing his role in the post-credits scene — but longtime readers of the Shazam comics know him well. For decades, he’s been one of the hero’s most persistent and resourceful opponents, despite the fact that he is, yes, an adorable little space worm.
Do not let his cuteness fool you. Mr. Mind is not to be trifled with. He was introduced in 1943’s Captain Marvel Adventures #26, and he soon became a constant thorn in the title character’s side. (This is back in the days when Shazam was still called Captain Marvel, before Marvel made their own Captain Marvel and trademarked that name. The two Captains are otherwise unrelated.) Created by writer Otto Binder and artist C.C. Beck, Mr. Mind hails from a far-away planet (sometimes it’s Venus) and possesses intelligence far beyond mere mortal worms. I mean, obviously, he wound up here on Earth and he can speak through a little electronic box he wears around his neck. Here he is in an excerpt from Captain Marvel Adventures #39:
Let this be a lesson: You should never trust a worm wearing an aviator’s cap and glasses.
Although he’s not much bigger than an earthworm, Mr. Mind is a formidable adversary. He possesses telepathic abilities, and can spin extremely strong silk. And he used his brains and mental powers to form a group called “The Monster Society of Evil” to help him conquer the planet and defeat Shazam and his buddies. The ranks of this organization are ... well, let’s just call them eccentric. They include Dr. Sivana, Mr. Who (a shape-shifter), Oggar (a sorcerer), Ibac (an evil version of Shazam who gets his powers by screaming “IBAC!”), Dummy (a sentient ventriloquist’s dummy), and Goat-Man (a [checks notes] goat-man).
So that’s the classic Mr. Mind from his introduction through the 1980s. Around that time, DC Comics purchased the rights to Shazam — his stories were originally published by a rival company called Fawcett Publications that eventually went out of business (thanks in part to a lawsuit brought against them by DC) — and began fully incorporating him and his mythology into the broader DC Universe. In the 1990s, Mr. Mind was reintroduced as a less cartoonish, more alien creature. And a few years after that, he was the Big Bad of a DC series called 52, where he evolved from his larval form into a “hyperfly” intent on eating the entire multiverse. (Spoiler Alert: He did not eat the entire multiverse.)
Mr. Mind’s cameo in Shazam suggests the filmmakers might want to make him one of the main villains of a sequel. But could that really happen? I asked Shazam director David F. Sandberg whether Warner Bros. might actually make a movie with a tiny killer worm as the bad guy.
“I don't know,” Sandberg said. “We'll see what happens. I just love the character and I was really glad we could put him in the movie, because it's just such a fun juxtaposition to have this evil mastermind in the body of a little space worm.” Sandberg also revealed a little Easter egg about the character: He himself provides Mr. Mind’s voice in the film. “I just want to be evil,” he told me, with a chuckle.
So there you have it: The bizarre life and times of Mr. Mind. Please convince your friends and loved ones to go see Shazam in theaters, so the movie becomes a massive blockbuster and Warner Bros. has no choice but to make a sequel featuring Shazam’s wormiest nemesis. Maybe he can even assemble a movie version of the Monster Society of Evil, with Sivana, Mr. Who, Ibac, and even Goat-Man. Because all you really need to make a movie is a girl, a gun, a hyper-intelligent alien worm with telepathic powers, and a goat-man.
Gallery — Actors Who’ve Appeared in DC and Marvel Movies: