Everything You Need To Know About The Origins of Shazam! Before You See The New Movie

Posted by Joshua White on 12th Mar 2019

Everything You Need To Know About The Origins of Shazam! Before You See The New Movie
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With the upcoming Shazam! movie starring Zachary Levi coming to theaters next month in early-April, it seems just as good of time as any to address some of the FAQ on the internet with regards to what fans of the DC/Marvel superhero need to know about the history of Shazam! the character, the franchise, the comics, and the new movie.

Some of the most-frequently asked questions swirling around the upcoming Shazam! movie have to do with the confusion about the character with that of Captain Marvel.

So, is it true that Captain Marvel is really Shazam?

The quick answer is: Yes. But there's a convoluted origin story in itself that makes any other comic superhero's origin story easy-to-follow in comparison.

In the simplest of explanations: 

Shazam! aka Captain Marvel at Fawcett Comics 1939

Captain Marvel became Shazam! Here's how: Appearing in Whiz Comics #2 in 1939, Captain Marvel was a superhero, that was created by C.C. Beck and Bill Parker for Fawcett Comics, that would, for a short time, surpass Superman in popularity at the beginning of the 1940s--even though, he was a kind of rip-off of the Man of Steel himself in the Golden Age of comics. 14-year-old Billy Batson, the young man who could transform himself into Captain Marvel, would become possessed with superhuman powers, when he uttered the magic word "Shazam."

What does Shazam stand for?

Shazam, is an acronym for "Solomon," "Hercules," "Atlas," "Zeus," "Achilles," and "Mercury," who were the six "immortal elders." Turning himself into the "World's Mightiest Mortal," the teenage Batson was gifted with the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury, which he used in battles against a gaggle of supervillains such as Thaddeus Bodog Sivana, Mr. Mind, the Monster Society of Evil, and Black Adam.

However, when The Fawcett comic character Captain Marvel (who was actually, at first, called Captain Mar-Vell) became more popular than Superman at DC Comics at the start of the 1940s, the latter company, DC, decided to sue Fawcett and challenge the likeness of their character with their own Superman.

Settling out of court with DC Comics, Fawcett fell into the negative with the lawsuit, and were forced to stop publishing the Captain Marvel character and sell the character to DC Comics; the latter company would publish their own version of Captain Marvel for a few years before abandoning the Batson character in the 1950s.

How did Captain Marvel become Shazam?

Shazam! aka Captain Marvel at Marvel Comics in the 1960s

Noticing that the copyright for Captain Marvel had expired with DC Comics, the newly-forged Marvel Comics picked up the rights, trademarking Captain Marvel, and began publishing comic books in the mid-1960s with the Captain Marvel superhero. However, the Marvel's Captain Marvel was a bit different from the original Fawcett company's character. The Marvel character was an alien superhero who had come to Earth to enslave the people of the planet before deciding that he'd rather instead to stay on earth and protect its people--not a teenage boy transformed with super powers.

So, where does Shazam! come into equation and how did Captain Marvel aka Shazam turn from a man to a woman?

Well, yes the Marvel version of Captain Marvel did, in fact, turn from a man into a woman in the 1980s, with the latest incarnation of the character, having the alter ego Carol Danvers; in the 1970s, when DC Comics decided that they wanted to reimagine the character, even though it was licensed to Marvel at the time, they spun the character off around the original's premise, just as Marvel morphed Marvel into a woman.

How did Shazam aka Captain Marvel get his power?

Taking some inspiration from the wizard that originally gifted the young Billy Batson with his powers to transform from a 14-year-old boy into a buffed-out superman at the end of the 1930s, they re-titled the character "Shazam!," based on the magic word; the company even purchased the total rights to the character in the 1990s so that they could continue on with the Shazam! series. Even though, somewhere along the way, there was a live-action Shazam! television series made for three seasons in the mid-1970s, starring Jackson Bostwick, the upcoming Shazam! movie will be the first feature film made based on the re-imagined Shazam! character that was created at DC Comics in the early 1970s.

With the film hitting theaters in less than a month anticipation is building for the next version of a live-action Shazam!.  Likely, the new superhero movie will be a runaway hit at the box office; as it's such a unique premise, given how the character is based on the original characterization of Billy Batson, the 14-year-old boy who morphs into the body of a superhero, yet still has the IQ and personality of a adolescent. 

This approach to the superhero movie is unique, and will likely make the film a standout this year in 2019, perhaps, even having an impact just as Black Panther did last year when it was first released, which was another innovative project.


Revisit The Shazam! Trailer Here:

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