“Heroes, Villains, and Me” is a periodic article on Geeky KOOL by Larry Litle about the world of comic books and my reaction to it. “Heroes, Villains, and Me” is not a comic book review article. I will write about current events, speculation and rumors, or my own wacky thoughts about the world of comic books and related stuff.
I have had a few friends question me about the new Marvel Captain Marvel movie that opens in March. They are confused how Captain Marvel from the 70s live action series is now a female character.
This question always causes me to take a deep breath. There is a short answer to this question and I start there. This is a different character than the one from Saturday mornings in the 70s. The female hero is Marvel character and the character from the live action series is a DC character. I share that the Captain Marvel they remember will also have a live action movie in April of this year called SHAZAM!
I smile and politely ask if they want the full story. They usually are interested so I break out the geeky details. It isn’t a short explanation.
In February 1940’s issue of Whiz Comics #2 (from Fawcett comics), Captain Marvel flew into the pages of comics. Young orphan Billy Batson rode the subway to an unexpected stop to see the Wizard. When Billy said the magic word, SHAZAM, he became an adult Superhero with powers similar to Superman. He receives the abilities of the 6 immortal elders: Solomon (Wisdom); Hercules (Strength); Atlas (Stamina), Zeus (power); Achilles (Courage); and Mercury (Speed) when he says the acronym, SHAZAM!
In the 1940s, Captain Marvel was one of the best selling comic heroes. He often outsold Superman on the newsstands. They created a line of Marvel family characters like Captain Marvel Jr, Mary Marvel, and several other fun characters. In 1941, Republic Pictures created a serial movie titled Adventures of Captain Marvel.
In 1953, this all changed. DC Comics sued Fawcett comics for copyright infringement. They claimed Captain Marvel was a copy of Superman. DC Comics won this lawsuit (I don’t agree with it). This shut down Fawcett comics and made Captain Marvel a dead character.
In 1967, Marvel comics premiered their own Captain Marvel … or I should say Captain Mar-Vel. He was created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan. Marvel’s Captain Marvel was originally a Kree spy on earth but Mar-Vel found a love for Earthlings. He became a hero for Earth and the galaxy even from his own misguided race. Marvel did trademark their hero, Captain Marvel.
Carol Danvers was a regular ongoing character in the Captain Marvel comics as a hot shot test pilot. In 1969, Carol was caught in an explosion by a Kree bomb. She was saved by Captain Marvel shielding her. The radiation pulled some of Mar-Vel’s DNA in Carol. She later gain super powers. Honoring her protégé, she took the name of Ms Marvel.
In 1972, DC decided to revive Captain Marvel and the Marvel family by licensing these characters from the same company they bankrupted, Fawcett Comics. The problem was that Marvel already had the rights to the character name for publishing a comic. DC was able to get around this with an agreement to call the Comics SHAZAM instead of Captain Marvel but was able to leave the character name the same.
DC had a popular live action Saturday morning series called SHAZAM, which I loved as a kid. They followed it by a really KOOL animated cartoon later in the 70s. But the comics were never the huge success they had hoped.
In 1982, Marvel’s Captain Mar-Vel was exposed to toxic nerve gas. From that incident, he came down with inoperable cancer. This story was in Marvel’s first Graphic Novel, The Death of Captain Marvel. Captain Marvel (Mar-Vel) passed away.
The name Captain Marvel was taken by different characters over the years including the Avenger, Monica Rambeau, shortly after his death. In 2012, Carol Danvers took the full hero name of her protégé, Captain Marvel.
In 2011, DC Comics relaunched their characters. In the process, the changed the name of Captain Marvel to be SHAZAM! He is no longer know as Captain Marvel in the DC Comic Universe but by the name of the Wizard and his magic acronym.
The Captain Marvel in the Marvel movie is Carol Danvers and it is her story we will see on the screen. The character in the SHAZAM! movie is the Captain Marvel that many of us grew up with on the live action series. I have not confirmed if the character’s name in SHAZAM! will be Captain Marvel or SHAZAM.
That is the long story on why the Captain Marvel movie character is a girl. Since Carol and Billy are two of my favorite characters, I am excited to see both of them on the big screens in just a couple of months.