Whenever I read the word “Shazam,” I hear it in Gomer Pyle’s voice, complete with southern drawl that adds a y to the am.
The original Captain Marvel is in the works to make his modern screen debut (outside of the animated universe, that is) if all goes well. However, as we all know, the DC property is not a guarantee to make it into the live-action DC Universe.
With “Justice League” set to open on November 17, it could make or break “Shazam!” depending on whether or not it’s profitable. If both movies are hits, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Captain Marvel join the ranks of the on-screen JL.
So far, “Shazam!” is on track to bring the story to life.
Zachary Levi was recently cast as the title character, but the big news was announced months ago when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was cast as antagonist Black Adam.
In honor of the Captain Marvel casting, it’s time to spotlight a few key Shazam comics.
It will be great to see Captain Marvel get his due once again considering that this character actually overshadowed Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman in the 1940s.
Originally, the character was created by Fawcett Comics in 1939 after the success of Superman. Wanting their own caped superhero (remember that Superman was the first costumed superhero) to rival the Man of Steel over at National Comics (which later became DC Comics), the Fawcett crew put together their very own kid-friendly superhero. In fact, they aimed it directly at kids by making the protagonist’s secret identity a boy named Billy Batson, who can access the power of Captain Marvel by saying the word, “Shazam!”
Captain Marvel made his first appearance some 77 years ago in “Whiz Comics” #2 back in 1940. After the debut, he quickly became the most popular superhero at that time.
At one point, National Comics actually sued Fawcett over copyright infringement, but it was dismissed because National hadn’t copyrighted the Superman comic strip. The litigation didn’t stop there as the decision was appealed, but eventually the two companies settled out of court. That settlement included ceasing publication of all Captain Marvel titles.
In 1953, Fawcett stopped publishing comic books, and “Captain Marvel Adventures” #150 marked the final solo issue of his original incarnation.
With Captain Marvel comics no longer being published, the renamed DC Comics bought the rights to the character and brought him into the modern age of comics in 1973. This leads us to the most common question when it comes to Captain Marvel: Why are there two Captain Marvels?
With Fawcett superhero comics out of print, Marvel Comics used the name for their own original creation and trademarked the title in 1967. When DC moved to bring the original Captain Marvel back into continuity in 1973, they titled the series “Shazam!” to avoid any copyright infringements.
The version of the character we’re most likely to see in the “Shazam!” movie comes from an add-on story in the pages of “Justice League” in the ill-fated New 52 overhaul.
Back in 2012, Gary Frank gave Captain Marvel a hood and put emphasis on the fantasy and magical elements of the character. Even with DC: Rebirth, the hooded look remained with Captain Marvel. In fact, that same style was present in the popular “Injustice: Gods Among Us” video game series.