Captain Marvel (DC Comics)

From Academic Kids


For the Marvel Comics character, see Captain Marvel (Marvel Comics).

Captain Marvel is a comic book superhero, originally published by Fawcett Comics and now owned by DC Comics. Created in 1939 by C.C. Beck and Bill Parker, he first appeared in Whiz Comics #2 (1940). With a premise that taps into adolescent fantasy, Captain Marvel is the alter ego of Billy Batson, a youth who works as a radio news reporter and was chosen to be a champion of good by the wizard Shazam. Whenever Billy speaks the wizard's name ("SHAZAM!"), he is instantly struck by a magic lightning bolt that transforms him into an adult Superman-like hero. Several friends and family members, most notably Marvel Family cohorts Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel, Jr., can share Billy's power and become "Marvels" themselves.

Hailed as "The World's Mightiest Mortal" in his adventures, and nicknamed "The Big Red Cheese" by his fans, Captain Marvel was, based on sales, the most popular superhero of the 1940s, with his Captain Marvel Adventures series selling more copies than Superman and the other competing superhero books Template:RefTemplate:Ref, and becoming the first superhero to be adapted into film in 1941. Because of a decline in the popularity of superheroes and a copyright infringement suit from DC Comics alleging similarities between Captain Marvel and Superman, Fawcett ceased publishing Captain Marvel and Marvel Family comics in 1953. They later licensed the Marvel Family characters to DC in 1972, and ceded the rights to them outright in 1980. Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family have been integrated into the "DC Universe", and DC has attempted a few revivals. However, Captain Marvel has not found widespread appeal with new generations, although a live action television series featuring the character in the 1970s was very popular.

Due to the fact that Marvel Comics trademarked their Captain Marvel comic book during the interim between the original Captain Marvel's Fawcett years and DC years, DC Comics has to promote and market their Captain Marvel/Marvel Family properties under the title Shazam! (based upon Billy/Cap's magic word as well as the name of the wizard). As a result, Captain Marvel himself is sometimes erroneously referred to as "Shazam".


Full history

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Captain Thunder, soon to be Captain Marvel, on the cover of the ashcan copy of Flash Comcis #1. Art by C.C. Beck.

Development and inspirations

After the success of National Comics' new superhero characters Superman and Batman, Fawcett Publications decided, in 1939, to start its own comics division. Writer Bill Parker was recruited to create several hero characters for the first title in Fawcett's line, then to be called Flash Comics. Besides penning stories featuring Ibis the Invincible, Spy Smasher, Golden Arrow, Lance O'Casey, Scoop Smith, and Dan Dare for the new book, Parker also wrote a story about a team of six superheroes, each possessing a special power granted to them by a mythological figure. Fawcett Comics' executive director Ralph Daigh decided it would be best to combine the team of six into one hero who would embody all six powers, and Parker responded by creating a character he called "Captain Thunder" Template:Ref. Staff artist Clarence Charles "C.C." Beck was recruited to design and illustrate Parker's story, rendering it in a direct, somewhat cartoony style that became his trademark.

The first issue, printed as both Flash Comics #1 and Thrill Comics #1, had a low-print run in the fall of 1939 as an ashcan copy created for advertising purposes. Shortly after its printing, however, Fawcett found it could not trademark "Captain Thunder", "Flash Comics", or "Thrill Comics", because they were already in use. Consequently, the book was renamed Whiz Comics, and the word balloons were re-lettered to label the hero of the book's main story as "Captain Marvel". Whiz Comics #2 was published in late 1939 and dated February 1940. Since it was the first of that title to actually be published, the issue is sometimes referred to as Whiz Comics #1, despite the issue number printed on it.

Inspirations for Captain Marvel came from a number of sources. His visual appearance was modeled after that of Fred MacMurray, a popular American actor of the period. Fawcett Publications' founder, Wilford H. Fawcett, was nicknamed "Captain Billy", which inspired the name "Billy Batson" and Marvel's title as well. Fawcett's earliest magazine was titled Captain Billy's Whiz Bang, which likely inspired the title Whiz Comics. Marvel wore a bright red costume, inspired by both military uniforms and ancient Egyptian and Persian costumes, with gold trim and a lightning bolt insignia on the chest. The costume also included a white collared cape trimmed with gold fleur-di-lis symbols, usually asymmetrically thrown over the left shoulder and held around his neck by a gold cord. The cape came from the ceremonial cape worn by the British nobility, photographs of which appeared in newspapers in the 1930s.

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Whiz Comics #2, the first appearance of Captain Marvel. Art by C.C. Beck.

Whiz Comics #2: origin story

Captain Marvel's origin story finds the homeless and orphaned Billy Batson making a meager living selling newspapers near an old subway station, sleeping in the doorway of the station. Billy had been living with his uncle after the deaths of his parents, but the cruel old man threw the boy out into the streets and stole his inheritance. While selling papers one rainy night, a dark clothed stranger asks the boy to follow him down into the subway station. There, a strange subway train with no visible driver appears, which carries the pair to the Rock of Eternity, secret lair of the wizard Shazam. There, the ancient wizard revealed that he had selected Billy to be his champion to fight for good as the "strongest and mightiest man in the world--Captain Marvel!".

To that end, Shazam orders the boy to speak his name, which was actually an acronym for various legendary figures who have agreed to grant aspects of themselves to a willing subject:

S for the wisdom of Solomon
H for the strength of Hercules
A for the stamina of Atlas
Z for the power of Zeus (usually in the form of resistance to any injury)
A for the courage of Achilles
M for the speed of Mercury (and, by extension, the power to fly)

Billy complied and he was immediately struck by a magic lightning bolt, which turned him into Captain Marvel, a adult superhero. He then learned that he only had to speak the word again to be instantly changed back into Billy.

With that, Shazam was immediately killed by a large granite block that fell from above his throne, and Billy vowed to fulfill his bestowed role. Whenever he needed advice, Billy could light a brazier near Shazam's throne, which would summon the wizard's ghost.

Marvel's first call to duty was saving the world from the evil mad scientist Dr. Thaddeus Bodog Sivana, who threatened to silence radio forever unless he was paid a large sum of money. Resuming his regular form, Billy tells WHIZ radio mogul Sterling Morris that he can stop the Radio Silencer and Sivana; a disbelieving Morris offers Billy a job on the air if he can do so.

Finding the crooks' hideout, Billy transforms into Captain Marvel and destroys Sivana's radio silencing machine and apprehends his henchmen. Sivana, however, got away, setting the stage for a long line of future confrontations. Marvel transforms back into Billy, who presents the captured criminals and destroyed Radio Silencer to Sterling Morris, who, true to his word, makes Billy an on-air news reporter for WHIZ radio.

Captain Marvel was an instant success, with Whiz Comics #2 selling over 500,000 copies Template:Ref. By 1941 he had his own solo series, Captain Marvel Adventures, while continuing to appear in Whiz Comics as well. He also made periodic appearances in other Fawcett books, including Master Comics.

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The super-powered members of the Marvel Family. From left to right, Captain Marvel, Lt. "Fat" Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr., Lt. "Tall" Marvel, Lt. "Hillbilly" Marvel, and Mary Marvel.

Fawcett years: the Marvel Family, allies, and enemies

Through his adventures, he soon gained a host of enemies, including Adolf Hitler's champion Captain Nazi, an older Egyptian renegade Marvel called Black Adam, an evil magic-powered brute named Ibac, and an artificially intelligent nuclear powered robot called Mister Atom. The most notorious Captain Marvel villains, however, were the nefarious Mister Mind and his Monster Society Of Evil, which recruited several of Marvel's previous adversaries. The "Monster Society of Evil" storyline ran as two-year story-arc in Captain Marvel Adventures #22-46 (March 1943 to May 1945), with Mister Mind eventually revealed to be a highly intelligent, yet tiny, worm from the planet Venus.

In the early 1940s he also gained allies in The Marvel Family, a collective of superheroes with similar powers and/or costumes to Captain Marvel's (by comparison, Superman spin-off character Superboy first appeared in 1944, while Supergirl first appeared in 1959). Whiz Comics #21 (September 1941) marked the debut of the Lieutenant Marvels, the alter egos of three other boys who found that, by saying "SHAZAM!" in unison, they too could become Marvels. In Whiz Comics #25 (December 1941), a friend named Freddy Freeman, mortally wounded by an attack from Captain Nazi, was given the power to become teenage boy superhero Captain Marvel, Jr.. The next year in Captain Marvel Adventures #18 (December 1942), Billy and Freddy met Billy's long-lost twin sister Mary Bromfield, who discovered she could, by saying the magic word "SHAZAM!", become teenage girl superhero Mary Marvel.

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Left to right: Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr., Mary Marvel, Uncle Marvel, and the wizard Shazam.

Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel, and Captain Marvel, Jr. were featured as a team in a new comic series entitled The Marvel Family, published alongside the other Marvel-related titles, which now included Wow Comics featuring Mary, Master Comics featuring Junior, and both Mary Marvel Comics and Captain Marvel, Jr. Comics. Non-super-powered Marvels such as the lovable con artist Uncle Marvel and his niece Freckles Marvel also sometimes joined the other Marvels on their adventures. A funny animal character, Hoppy the Marvel Bunny, was created in 1942 and later given for a spin-off series of his own.

The members of the Marvel Family often teamed up with the other Fawcett superheroes, who included Ibis the Invincible, Bulletman and Bulletgirl, Spy Smasher, Minute-Man, and Mr. Scarlet and Pinky. Among the many artists and writers who worked on the Marvel Family stories alongside C.C. Beck and main writer Otto Binder were Joe Simon & Jack Kirby, Mac Rayboy, Pete Costanza, Kurt Shaffenberger, and Marc Swayze.

Fawcett vs. DC Comics

Through much of the Golden age of comic books, Captain Marvel proved to be the most popular superhero character of the medium with his comics outselling all others, including those featuring Superman. Part of the reason for this popularity included the inherent wish fulfillment appeal of the character to children, as well as the humorous and surreal quality of the stories. In fact, Captain Marvel Adventures sold fourteen million copies in 1944 Template:Ref, and was at one point being published weekly with a circulation of 1.3 million copies an issue (proclaimed on the cover of issue #19 as being the "Largest Circulation of Any Comic Magazine") Template:Ref.

This popularity was probably one reason why National Comics Publications (now DC Comics) sued Fawcett Comics for copyright infringement of intellectual property in 1941, due to the alleged similarity of Captain Marvel to Superman. After seven years of litigation, the National Comics Publications v. Fawcett Publishing case went to trials court in 1948. During the initial trial, the judge declared Captain Marvel an infringement on DC's copyrights, but still ruled in Fawcett's favor because of information Fawcett's lawyers had uncovered about Superman's copyright status. The defense lawyers had provided evidence that DC and the McClure Syndicate were negligent in copyrighting several of their Superman newspaper comic strips, and the judge decided that DC had abandoned its Superman copyright and it was no longer valid Template:Ref.

DC appealed the decision in 1951 in federal court, and Judge Learning Hand declared in 1953 that DC's Superman copyright was in fact valid, and maintained that Captain Marvel was an infringment Template:Ref. The case was then sent back to trials court for damage assessment. Fawcett decided at this time to settle with DC out of court instead of re-appealing, feeling that a decline in the popularity of superhero comics meant that it was no longer worth continuing the fight Template:Ref. Fawcett shut down its comics division in the fall of 1953 and laid off its comic-creating staff, and paid DC $400,000 in damages Template:Ref. Whiz Comics had ended with issue #146 in June 1952, with Captain Marvel Adventures folding with #150 (November 1953), and The Marvel Family ending its run with #89 (January 1954).

In the 1950s a small British Publisher, L. Miller and Son, published a number of black and white reprints of American comic books, including the Captain Marvel series. In 1954, their supply of Captain Marvel material was abruptly cut off because of the lawsuit, and they requested the help of a British comic writer, Mick Anglo, who created a British copy of the superhero called Marvelman.

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Shazam! #1, February 1973. Art by C.C. Beck.

The Shazam! revival

When superhero comics became popular again in the mid-1960s (in what is now called the Silver Age of comics), Fawcett was unable to revive Captain Marvel because of its earlier concession. Eventually, they licensed the characters to DC Comics in 1972, and DC began planning a revival. Because Marvel Comics had by this time established its own claim to the use of Captain Marvel as a comic book title, DC published their book under the name Shazam! Since then, that title has become so linked to Captain Marvel that the general public has taken to identifying the character as "Shazam" instead of his actual name.

The Shazam! ongoing series began with issue #1 in February 1973, and contained both new stories and reprints from the 1940s and 1950s. Dennis O'Neil was the book's primary writer. C.C. Beck drew stories for the first ten issues of the book before he quit because of differences with DC Comics; Kurt Shaffenberger and Don Newton were among the later artists of the title.

The first story attempted to explain the absence of the Marvel Family by attributing their disappearance to one of Dr. Sivana's evil schemes. Back in 1953, Sivana and his children, Georgia and Sivana, Jr. had managed to capture the Marvels and their friends in a sphere of a compound called Suspendium, which would hold them in suspended animation for all eternity. By a goof of Sivana, Jr., the Sivana Family found themselves stuck in the Suspendium sphere as well, where they and the Marvels remained frozen for the next twenty years. By 1973, the sphere had floated close enough to the sun that it began to melt, at which point the Marvels break free and bring the sphere back to Earth.

With DC's Multiverse in effect during this time, it was stated that the Marvel Family and related characters lived on the parallel world of "Earth-S," and had spent the time between their final issue in the early 1950s and this point in time in suspended animation. While the series began with a great deal of fanfare, the book got lackluster reviews. Shazam! was cancelled with issue #35 (June 1978) and relegated to a back-up position in World's Finest Comics (from #254 in November 1979 to #282 in August 1982) and Adventure Comics (from #491 in September 1982 to #498 in April 1983). DC Comics bought the Fawcett line of characters outright in 1980, and with their 1985 miniseries Crisis on Infinite Earths, fully integrated the characters into the mainstream DC superhero setting.

Shazam! The New Beginning

The first post-Crisis appearance of Captain Marvel was in the 1986 Legends miniseries. In 1987, Marvel appeared as a member of the Justice League, and was also given his own miniseries, Shazam! The New Beginning. With the four-issue miniseries, writer Roy Thomas and artist Tom Mandrake attempted to re-launch the Captain Marvel mythos and bring the wizard Shazam, Dr. Sivana, Uncle Dudley, and Black Adam into the modern DC Universe with a altered origin story.

In this miniseries, both Sivana and Dudley were Billy Batson's real uncles, and fought over the custody for the boy after his parents were killed (by Sivana) in a car accident. As in the Fawcett origin story, Billy eventually encounters Shazam in the subway tunnel and is given the power to become Captain Marvel, but the wizard does not remain as a counselor as he does in other versions of the story. One of Sivana's inventions draws Black Adam from the Netherworld, and the two create a plot to hold the passengers of a hijacked airplane as hostages.

The most notable change that Thomas introduced into the Captain Marvel mythos was retaining the personality of young Billy Batson when he transforms into the Captain (classic-era comics tended to treat Captain Marvel and Billy as two separate personalities). This change would be retained for all future uses of the character, as justification for his sunny, Golden-Age personality in the darker modern-day comic book world.

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The covers of both the hardcover and the softcover versions of the Power of Shazam! graphic novel. Art by Jerry Ordway.

The Power of Shazam!

Main entry: The Power of Shazam!

In 1994, Captain Marvel was retconned yet again and given a revised origin in The Power of Shazam!, a painted graphic novel by Jerry Ordway. This version of Marvel's origin, now considered his official DCU origin story, more closely followed his Fawcett origins, with only slight additions and changes.

In this version of the story, it is Black Adam who kills Billy's parents, in his resurrected non=powered form of Theo Adam. He also kidnaps Billy's sister Mary, who ends up missing. After being granted the power of Shazam and subduing Black Adam and his employer, the rich tycoon Dr. Sivana, Billy swears to find his sister as Captain Marvel.

The graphic novel was a critically-acclaimed success, leading to a Power of Shazam! ongoing series which ran from 1995 to 1999. The series reintroduced the Marvel Family and many of their allies and enemies into the modern-day DC Universe.

During the publication of the series, the Marvel Family also appeared in Mark Waid and Alex Ross's critically-acclaimed miniseries Kingdom Come, with a brainwashed Captain Marvel playing a major role in the story. Captain Marvel also starred in an oversized special graphic novel, Shazam!: Power of Hope, in 1999, written by Paul Dini and painted by Alex Ross.

Current DCU status

Since 1999, the characters have made appearances in an number of other comic book series. Ironically, a typical use for Captain Marvel guest appearances in current comics is as a backup for Superman when an independent flight enabled super-strong being is called for, especially in situations where kryptonite and/or magic are involved. In 2003, Captain Marvel became a member of the revived Justice Society of America. During his tenure on the team, he dated Courtney Whitmore, a.k.a. Stargirl, which put him in an unusual position: while he could legally date Courtney as Billy Batson, it looked very strange for the grown-up Captain Marvel to be with the teenaged Stargirl. He was asked to leave the team over this problem, although he returned in JSA #73 (May 2005).

Supporting cast

Missing image
Captain Marvel, as depicted by Alex Ross.

Marvel Family

  • The Wizard Shazam. Although he is killed, as prophesized, after giving Billy the power to become Captain Marvel, Shazam's spirit remains as the vigilant caretaker of the Rock of Eternity. In current continuity, Shazam is a much more active character than he was during the classic Marvel Family adventures, and attained godhood after the 1998 Genesis crossover.
  • Captain Marvel, Jr. Attacked and left for dead by Captain Nazi, Freddy Freeman was given the power to become a Marvel to save his life. Whenever he speaks Captain Marvel's name, Freddy becomes a teenage version of Captain Marvel with a sharply contrasting yellow on blue costume. This created the odd problem that he could not identify himself without changing back to his regular form. The modern-day Junior now goes by the alias CM3 (short for "Captain Marvel III"), so that he can identify himself without transforming, and was a member of the Teen Titans during the late-1990s.
  • Mary Marvel. Billy's once-lost twin sister Mary Bromfield, who found she could say the magic word "SHAZAM!" and become a female Marvel. The classic-era Mary Marvel remained a teenager after saying her magic word, with a yellow on red short sleeve and skirt costume, while the modern version is transformed into an adult like her brother, with a yellow on white costume. During the run of the The Power of Shazam! series, Mary shared the title of "Captain Marvel" with Billy. In the Formerly Known as the Justice League miniseries, Mary became part of the "Superbuddies," a group consisting largely of former Justice League members.
  • Uncle Dudley/Uncle Marvel. During the classic era, an old man named Dudley, who claimed that he was not only a relative of the Marvels but also a Marvel himself (although neither was true) and became the Marvel Family's manager. In modern continuity, Dudley is simply a janitor at Billy's school who finds himself involved in Marvel Family adventures. His niece Freckles Marvel was an irregular companion of Mary Marvel's in her classic-era solo adventures.
  • The Lieutenant Marvels. Three other boys named "Billy Batson" (nicknamed "Tall Billy", "Fat Billy", and "Hill Billy"—the latter because he was from Appalachia) who learned that, because they also were named Billy Batson, they could draw on the power of Shazam. They vowed only to use their power if asked by Captain Marvel, and only if all three were to say the magic word, "SHAZAM!", in unison. They have not appeared in Marvel Family stories since the early 1980s, having been retconned out of existence during the Crisis on Infinite Earths.
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The cover of Whiz Comics #59, featuring most of the cast of the classic-era Marvel Family adventures.

Rogues gallery

Through his adventures, Captain Marvel gained a host of enemies, including the following:

  • Dr. Sivana (and the Sivana Family). Captain Marvel's very first and primary foe. Sivana, a bald, diminutive mad scientist, often attempts to take over the world or destroy the Marvels using his inventions. In classic-era continuity, Sivana's teenage children Georgia and Sivana, Jr. often joined their father in his evil schemes; the three of them were collectively known as the Sivana Family.
  • Black Adam. An older Egyptian renegade Marvel who crossed Shazam, and was punished by either exile (classic version) or death (modern version). He returns to Earth (or life) after Shazam appoints Captain Marvel his new successor, and was soon established as Marvel's most powerful foe. In current DCU continuity, Adam claimed to have given up his evil ways, and briefly joined the Justice Society of America before becoming villainous again.
  • Captain Nazi. Adolf Hitler's champion, created through science as the "perfect specimen" of a soldier. Obviously inspired by the events of World War II, Nazi continued to appear in classic-era Marvel Family stories into the 1980s. In the Power of Shazam! series, Nazi was brought back into action after having been in suspended animation for fifty years, and quickly became an enemy of the Marvel Family.
  • Ibac. A frail thug named "Stinky" Printwhistle who was empowered by Lucifer himself with the powers of four of the most evil men to walk the face of the earth. When he says the name "IBAC", he becomes a large, muscular brute with super-strength. Saying his name again transforms him back into Printwhistle (therefore, like Capt. Marvel, Jr., Ibac also cannot say his own name).
  • Mister Mind. Arguably the most notorious classic-era Captain Marvel villain, the at-first unseen Mister Mind started and headed a supervillian team known as the Monster Society of Evil. After two years of masterminding tyranny with a team of dozens of villians and criminals (including several previous Marvel Family adversaries like Captain Nazi and Ibac), Mister Mind was revealed to be a two-inch, myopic, mind-controlling worm from the planet Venus. The evil worm was placed on trial, convicted of killing 186,744 people, killed and stuffed. Mind reappeared in the Power of Shazam! series as the leader of a race of millions of mind-controlling Venusian worms, who irregularly appear across the DC Universe attempting to control potential human hosts.
  • Mister Atom. An artificially intelligent nuclear-powered robot created by Dr. Charles Langley. In the Power of Shazam! series, Mister Atom, under the control of Mister Mind, destroys Mary Bromfield's hometown of Fairfield with a nuclear explosion.
  • Blaze and Satanus. Only present in the modern-day Marvel Family stories, the demoness Blaze and her brother Lord Satanus, originally appearing in the Superman books, are the illegitimate children of the Wizard Shazam, who was bewitched by their mother during his superhero days in Biblical Canaan. Blaze has attempted to spread her evil influence throughout Fawcett City since the 1940s, requiring Shazam and his allies to work together to stop her.

Other characters

  • Beautia and Magnificus Sivana. Dr. Sivana's beautiful adult daughter Beautia shared her father's passion for world domination until meeting, and falling for, Captain Marvel. She has an unrequited crush on the shy Captain, not realizing that he is actually only a young boy. Her brother Magnificus is also generally depicted as a Marvel Family ally, although in his only Golden Age appearance, Magnificus had super powers and fought Captain Marvel hand-to-hand.
  • Mister "Tawky" Tawny. A funny animal talking tiger who, in classic-era continuity, wishes to live among the humans in civilization instead of in the wild or the zoo. As such, he's typically dressed in a tweed business suit. The modern-day Tawky Tawny was a stuffed tiger doll who was animated by Lord Satanus to assist the Marvel Family in their battle against Satanus's sister Blaze. He only appeared as an animate being to Billy, Mary, and later Dudley at first (ala Hobbes in Calvin and Hobbes), but later was made permanently real by the power of Ibis the Invincible.
  • Mr. Sterling Morris. The president of WHIZ radio and Billy's employer.
  • Miss Wormwood. In modern-era comics, Billy's schoolteacher (and later principal), presented as the typical "mean teacher" stereotype. Her name is another reference to the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, where Calvin's schoolteacher was also named Miss Wormwood.
  • Cissie Sommerly. Billy's girlfriend in classic-era continuity.

Appearances in film and television

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The Adventures of Captain Marvel, starring Tom Tyler in the title role.

The first filmed adaptation of Captain Marvel was produced in 1941. The Adventures of Captain Marvel, starring Tom Tyler in the title role of Captain Marvel and Frank Coglan, Jr. as his alter ego, Billy Batson, was a twelve-part film serial produced by Republic Pictures in 1941. Often ranked among the finest examples of the form, its release made Captain Marvel the first superhero to be depicted in film.

Over thirty years later, Filmation produced Shazam!, a live-action television show which ran from 1974 to 1977 on CBS. From 1975 until the end of its run, it aired as one-half of The Shazam!/Isis Hour.. The Shazam! TV show was a more indirect approach to the character; it told of Billy Batson/Captain Marvel making road trips, instead of flying across the USA to combat evil. Michael Gray portrayed Billy Batson in the series, with both Jackson Bostwick (season 1) and John Davey (seasons 2 and 3) as Captain Marvel. Shortly after the Shazam! show ended its network run, Captain Marvel appeared as a character in the low-budgeted comedy special, Legends of the Superheroes, in 1978. THree years later, Filmation revisited the character for an animated Shazam! cartoon , which ran on NBC from 1981 to 1982 as part of the Kid Superpower Hour with Shazam!. The rest of the Marvel Family joined Captain Marvel on his adventures in this series, which were more similar to his comic-book adventures than the 1970s TV show.

In 2005, Captain Marvel guest starred in the Cartoon Network animated series Justice League Unlimited, in an episode entitled "Clash". Marvel was voiced by Jerry O'Connell, with Shane Haboucha as Billy Batson. In the episode, Marvel joins the Justice League, but soon finds himself at odds with Superman over the perception of presidential candidate Lex Luthor's credibility. A fight sequence between Marvel and Superman contains references to the Kingdom Come miniseries. "Clash" aired in May 2005 in Canada, and aired on June 11 2005 in the United States.

Currently, New Line Cinema has plans for a Shazam! live action feature film, with Michael Uslan as producer. The film is currently scheduled for release in 2006.

Cultural influences

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Captain Marvel in Justice League Unlimited.

Captain Marvel's adventures have contributed a number of elements to both comic book culture and pop culture in general. The most notable of these is the regular use of Superman and Captain Marvel as adversaries in Modern Age comic book stories. The Superman/Captain Marvel rivalry has its origins in a popular comics story in MAD Magazine #4 from 1953, entitled "Superduperman", which was inspired by the Fawcett/DC legal battles. In the story, Superduperman (an obvious Superman doppelganger) does batle with the Captain Marvel-esque Captain Marbles. Marbles' magic word was not "SHAZAM", but "SHAZOOM", which stood for Strength, Health, Aptitude, Zeal, Ox—power of, Ox—power of another, and Money. After DC revived Captain Marvel in the 1970s, they followed MAD's cue and often pitted Marvel and Superman against each other, for any number of reasons, but usually as an inside joke to the characters' long battles in court. Notable Superman/Captain Marvel battles in DC Comics stores include All-New Collectors' Edition #C-58 (1979), All-Star Squadron #37 (1984), Superman #102 (1995), the final issue of the Kingdom Come miniseries (1996), and, most recently, Superman #216 (2005). Even the "Clash" episode of Justice League Unlimited featured a Superman/Captain Marvel fight as its centerpiece.

Captain Marvel was the first major comic book hero to have a kid alter ego. Although kid superheroes had generally been neglected before Marvel's introduction, kid sidekicks soon became commonplace shortly after Marvel's success: Robin was paired with Batman in May 1940, and Captain America was introduced with sidekick Bucky in March 1941). The idea of a young boy who transformed into a superhero proved popular enough to inspire a number of superheroes who undergo similar transformations, including Marvel Comics' Darkhawk, Malibu Comics' Prime, and animated/action figure superheros such as Hanna-Barbera's Young Samson and Mattel/Filmation's He-Man.

In pop culture, Billy Batson/Captain Marvel's magic word, "Shazam!", became a popular exclamation from the 1940s on, often used in place of an expletive. The most notable user of the word "Shazam!" in this form was Gomer Pyle from the 1960s sitcom The Andy Griffith Show. Another catchphrase popularized by Captain Marvel was his trademark exclamation, "Holy Moley!"

In the Fox Network animated series American Dad!, Steve's favorite t-shirt has Captain Marvel's signature lightning bolt insignia on it (although he repeatedly refers to it as a "Shazam" shirt, which is technically incorrect).


  1. Template:Note Tipton, Scott (Apr. 2, 2003). "The World's Mightiest Mortal (" Retrieved June 17, 2005. Excerpt: "Iíve always felt that it was this origin story and concept that made Captain Marvel instantly popular, to the point that it was outselling every comic on the stands for several years throughout the Ď40s."
  2. Template:Note "Comic Book Success Stories (". The Museum of Comic Book Advertising. Retrieved June 17, 2005. Excerpt: "By the middle of the decade, Captain Marvel had received a self-titled comic book, Captain Marvel's Adventures (sic), which had a circulation that reached 1.3 million copies per month. Captain Marvel's circulation numbers exceeded National's Superman title and the rivalry between the companies led National to sue Fawcett for plagiarism."
  3. Template:Note Hembeck, Fred (June 18, 2003). "Johnny Thunder and Shazam! (". The Hembeck Files. Retrieved June 22. 2005.
  4. Template:Note Ibid. Excerpt: "The first issue of Whiz Comics, introducing Captain Marvel, sold over 500,000 copies."
  5. Template:Note *Lavin, Michael L. (Summer 1998) "Comic Books And Graphic Novels For Libraries: What To Buy (". Serials Review. No. 24, Vol. 2., p. 34. Excerpt: "In 1944, the best-selling comic book title (Captain Marvel Adventures) sold more than fourteen million copies for the year."
  6. Template:Note "Comic Book Success Stories (". The Museum of Comic Book Advertising.
  7. Template:Note Ingersoll, Bob (May 31, 1985). "The Law is a Ass" Installment # 66. Comics Buyer's Guide issue # 602. Retrieved from on June 19, 2005. Detailed summary of the cases and rulings related to National Comics Publications v. Fawcett Publishing.
  8. Template:Note Ibid.
  9. Template:Note Gore, Matthew H. The Origins of Marvelman ( Retrieved June 17, 2005. Excerpt: "With avenues of appeal still open but their outcome obvious after the first court ruled for National Periodicals, Fawcett Publications settled out of court in late-1953. Fawcett agreed to cease publication of all Captain Marvel related titles. However, Fawcett's decision to give up the legal battle came when all of the company's superhero titles were reporting greatly diminished sales was no circumstance."
  10. Template:Note "The World's Mighiest Mortal & Big Red Cheese (". The Museum of Comic Book Advertising. Retrieved June 17, 2005. Excerpt: "In 1953, the case was finally settled out of court when Fawcett agreed to quit using the Captain Marvel character(s) and pay DC the sum of $400,000."


  • Beck, C.C. and Parker, Bill (February 1940, reprinted March 2000). "Capt. Marvel" Whiz Comics #2. New York: Fawcett Publications (reprint by DC Comics).
  • Beck, C.C. and O'Neil, Denny. (February 1973). "In the Beginning" Shazam! #1. New York: National Periodical Publications.
  • Grogan, Walt. The Marvel Family Web ( Retrieved June 16, 2005.
  • Markstei, Donald D. (2000 - 2004). "Captain Marvel (". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Retrieved June 16, 2005.
  • Ordway, Jerry. (1994). The Power of Shazam! New York: DC Comics. ISBN 156-389153-0.
  • Thomas, Roy and Mandrake, Tom. Shazam! The New Beginning #1–4. New York: DC Comics.

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