Why The Daughters Of Atlas Were The Shazam! Fury Of The Gods Villains Instead Of Mr. Mind

This post contains spoilers for "Shazam! Fury of the Gods."

There's no denying that Dame Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu make for better supervillains than a talking worm, but the fact remains: the first "Shazam" movie promised us Mister Mind. Or did it? If you sat through to the end of the sequel "Shazam! Fury of the Gods" this weekend, you may have been overcome by a sense of deja vu as the post-credits scene checked back in with Mark Strong's Dr. Sivana in his jail cell, where Mister Mind showed back up on the window ledge, talking up all his big plans, just as he did at the end of "Shazam."

Taken as tongue-in-cheek in a self-aware, "Deadpool"-lite sort of way, the "Fury of the Gods" post-credits scene lands like a tacit acknowledgment that the whole Mister Mind thing isn't going anywhere and that he probably wouldn't have been the best villain, anyway. It seems to be parodying the Marvel Studios tendency to draw out post-credits teases over years (like they did with Thanos, who first cameoed in "The Avengers" in 2012, and then again in "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Age of Ultron" in 2014 and 2015, before he finally showed up as a full-fledged villain in "Avengers: Endgame" in 2018).

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, "Fury of the Gods" co-writer Henry Gayden explained the rationale behind Mister Mind's post-credits return. Gayden first acknowledged that he and co-writer Chris Morgan had done multiple discarded drafts of the script where Mister Mind and Dr. Sivana were the main villains. In one of those drafts, he said, "Sivana breaks out of prison without having to lift a finger because of Mister Mind's help."

Mister Mind wouldn't have 'serviced a natural growth for Billy'

Ultimately, the daughters of Atlas would become the villains of "Shazam! Fury of the Gods." Helen Mirren's Hespera and Lucy Liu's Kalypso are out in front right from the beginning when they wreak havoc on a museum, zombifying people and turning them to stone. However, after she befriends Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer) in school, the new character "Anne," played by "West Side Story" star Rachel Zegler, also turns out to be Anthea — the not-so-secret third daughter of Atlas. She alludes to one of her sisters in the cafeteria, and it turns out it's not Wonder Woman (though that would be great).

Anthea and her sisters have issues, and this gels with the focus on #family (or Shazamily) in "Fury of the Gods," as Billy Batson (Zachary Levi/Asher Angel) tries "to hold on too tight because he's terrified to lose that family," as Henry Gayden put it. Gayden pointed to this as the reason why the writers dropped Mister Mind in favor of the daughters of Atlas. Rather than rehashing Dr. Sivana's storyline and having him do a big supervillain team-up with Mister Mind, they elected to go in a fresh direction and ditch their previous drafts.

"There was stuff there that was great," Gayden continued, "but none of it really serviced a natural growth for Billy. It felt a little redundant. It felt like we were doing the last movie just on a bigger scale."

Gayden said that the post-credits scene in "Fury of the Gods" started out as a joke, a way for the writers to salvage some of what was lost in their discarded drafts. However, they eventually embraced it as a real scene after receiving the blessing of former DC Films studio head Walter Hamada.

Dr. Sivana and Mr. Mind could remain a running gag

Like the upcoming "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom," "Shazam! Fury of the Gods" is something of a lame-duck superhero sequel that's finishing out the 10-year term of the DC Extended Universe before a regime change softly reboots it as the DC Universe under new studio heads James Gunn and Peter Safran. As they say on "Mad Men," the box-office outlook for this movie is not great, Bob. Originally expected to bring in $35–40 million on opening weekend, it's now looking more like "Fury of the Gods" will debut around $30 million.

Reviews haven't been great, either. Any momentum the movie might have enjoyed from a certain shared-universe cameo has been furthermore undermined if not outright kneecapped by the cancellation of other DCEU sequels like "Wonder Woman 3" in favor of an all-new slate of films (with only the unconnected "The Batman: Part II" to carry the torch forward).

In short, it appears less likely now that there will be a "Shazam 3," though no one at DC has officially ruled out the possibility yet. If and when a threequel does happen, Henry Gayden indicated to THR that he would like to see more of Dr. Sivana and Mister Mind, though they may never escape jail:

"If we had 'Shazam! 3' and we go a different route with villains, I've always wanted the post-credits to continue to be Sivana and Mister Mind. I just thought it was the flavor of 'Shazam!,' the fact that it kind of low-key makes fun of the tropes of movies. If the post-credit scene is always making fun of post-credit scenes, I think that could be really fun."

"Shazam! Fury of the Gods" is in theaters now.