No point in comic history has a single name meant so much and caused so much change as the word Shazam! Shazam! when uttered by Billy Batson transforms the young boy into the overly powered comic book hero of the same name. He can fly, has super strength, and is considered the world’s strongest mortal.
That, however, doesn’t mean that things about him aren’t misconstrued, taken out of context, or gotten completely wrong. Quite the contrary.
Shazam!, while one of the most interesting DC characters, is one of the ones who’s history and past is as confusing as a 24-acre maze. Don’t worry though. That’s what we’re here for. Here are 5 Things That Everyone Gets Wrong About Shazam!
5. Captain Marvel
Believe it or not, there was a time in the last 75 years that DC failed to use the Captain Marvel name. During that time, the name Captain Marvel and its trademark were anyone’s to claim. And anyone claimed it.
By 1967, the Marvel Comics Machine was beginning its ascent to the comic book crown. Titles like the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man were helping it solidify its spot as the number one publisher. Although very little could stop what they were doing, DC always had one thing to hang over their head, Captain Marvel. That’s why, when a chance arose to rectify this, Marvel turned their Mar-Vell character into Captain Marvel. With the name came the trademark. Marvel filed the proper paperwork and it was theirs.
By the time DC brought their version of Captain Marvel back to life it was too late. In 1973, they released a new book that renamed their old character… Shazam.
4. Doesn’t have a family
Like any other wildly successful idea, comic books were quick to capitalize on the Captain Marvel name. Before long a group of children were imbued with the power of Shazam! These children, known as the Lieutenant Marvels, each had the name Billy Batson and when each said the name Shazam!, they would share his power.
From there, came Freddy Freeman or Captain Marvel Jr. Freeman became a member of the Marvel family after Captain Nazi crippled him and murdered his grandfather. To save his life, Captain Marvel sent some of his power into him. Thus, when Freeman used the words Captain Marvel, he would transform into Captain Marvel Jr. If the trailers to the upcoming Shazam! movie are any indication, Freddy Freeman has a large role and will play an intergral part in Shazam’s history.
Over the years members like Mary Marvel have joined the Shazam! ranks, however, none have proven to be as popular as Billy Batson.
3. April 2019’s movie will be his first live action adaptation
April 2019’s Shazam! will not mark his first appearance in live action. Not by a long shot.
In 1974, just after Marvel trademarked the Captain Marvel name, Shazam! made his way to his own television show. Unfortunately, the show was littered with problems from the get-go. Around this time there was a cry for Saturday morning television to be more educational.
In the show, Shazam traveled around the country helping teenagers and young children solve their problems. The education requirement came from Elders explaining the life lessons that happened as a result of the problems. If it sounds terrible, its because it was.
And it’s not just television that he has already appeared on.
With a deal to bring Superman to cinema far from actually happening, moviemakers turned to Captain Marvel. In 1941, The Adventures of Captain Marvel debuted on the Silver Screen. This version saw an archaeological dig find an ancient relic called the Scorpion Idol. Sensing imminent danger, the archaeologists split the Idol up. Unfortunately, the villain, aptly named Scorpion, sought to put the idol back together.
The wizard Shazam gifts a young Billy Batson his power and sends him off to save the world.
Make no mistake, once the April 2019’s movie hits theaters, his first live action appearance will be one of the things that everyone gets wrong about Shazam!.
2. Created after Wonder Woman
When you think of DC superheroes you probably think of their Big Three. Batman. Superman. Wonder Woman. What if I told you that chronologically Captain Marvel predates Wonder Woman? Would you believe me?
In 1941 William Moulton Marston famously brought the world’s most well-known superheroine to the masses. Wonder Woman became an instant hit with girls of all ages. For the first time in existence, both sexes had someone they could cheer for, look up to, and model themselves after. Wonder Woman was and is the most important female comic book character ever created. As such, she’s become as synonymous with DC as Batman and Superman.
However, if we look at chronological appearances, she was not created before Captain Marvel.
In February of 1940 Captain Marvel hit newsstands. By simple math, that makes him 20 months older than Wonder Woman. Yes, 20 months in the grand scheme of things doesn’t sound like a lot. And yes, Wonder Woman never left the watchful eye of children. But, she is younger.
With his age and lasting power, it’s a wonder why he isn’t considered as important as any of the Big Three characters.
1. Has always played second fiddle to Superman
In the world of DC, arguably none are as important as Superman. You may be thinking that Batman is. However, remember that Batman, for a time, did not have the following that he does today. Superman is to DC what pucks are to hockey. One cannot exist without the other.
Try as he may, in terms of popularity Captain Marvel has always been the runner up to Superman.
Or has he? If you believe he has, then you’ve joined the things everyone gets wrong about Shazam! club.
In the early days of his life, it has been estimated that Captain Marvel actually outsold Superman. Some historians have argued that some months eclipsed 2 million issues sold. The unpredictability of the character and his enemies may have sparked the interest of children in America. While Superman and Lex Luthor fought with “normal” weapons, Captain Marvel and his rogues often used magic. This small change certainly could and would peek the imagination of children in a way they hadn’t seen before.
Captain Marvel made them believe that they could become Captain Marvel. Instead of being born with powers or having to come from another world, all Billy Batson had to do was say the word “Shazam” and he was as supercharged as Superman. That simple change was all it took for children to gravitate towards him.
And that’s it.
5 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Shazam! Agree? Disagree? What do you consider to be things everyone gets wrong about Shazam!? I’d love to hear them below.