Monday, March 12, 2018

Has Captain Marvel's name changed to "Shazam"?

This was a reply to a comment on Facebook, but since it was so long and thorough for a "Someone is Wrong on the Internet" comment, I figured I would post it here so folks could refer to it with ease. 

Whether or not the name has been "changed" depends on how you look at the character.

In the mid '00's, DC had a series of company-wide epic events, part of which involved Captain Marvel having to take over the job of the old wizard Shazam (who had given Billy Batson the power to speak his name and transform into the hero), and his name changing to "Lord Marvel." Freddy Freeman (Captain Marvel, Jr.) took over the job of Captain Marvel, but after going through the "Trials of Shazam!" 12-issue series (that lasted from 2006-2008,) he became the new hero and was called "Shazam" for a while (Wikipedia says he went back to the name Captain Marvel for a bit).

Then, in 2012, the New 52 came around, and every superhero was "rebooted" or "recreated" and started over. Some of these new versions were drastically different, some were not. The character who was published under the title "Shazam!" in back-up stories n "Justice League," and who later joined the Justice League, was named "Shazam." He had a different costume, different origin, and drastically different powers from the previous characters marketed under that title, all but the Freddy Freeman version having been named "Captain Marvel," and being continuations of, or based on, the original Captain Marvel from Fawcett.

A few years later, DC revealed that the universe in which these "New 52" heroes live is actually part of a "multiverse," and in this multiverse is a world labeled "Earth-5. On this world is a superhero named "Captain Marvel. This world has been said to be "Earth-S," which was the world on which DC placed the original Captain Marvel when they started publishing him in 1972.

To backtrack just a bit...

In 1972, DC began publishing the continuing adventures of the original Captain Marvel, placing him on Earth-S, just as Jay Garrick/Flash was on Earth-2 and Barry Allen/Flash was on Earth1, and while both Earth-1 and Earth-2 had a Clark Kent/Superman, Earth Three had Kal-ll/Ultraman

In 1985-6 DC published the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" saga, which rolled all the alternate Earths into one, rebooting all their characters, re-setting the Big Three of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman into the current era, and re-booting Captain Marvel under the title "SHAZAM!" The New Beginning." He had the same powers, a slightly different origin, and the same costume. And while the original Billy Batson and Captain Marvel were separate personalities, now Captain Marvel was simply Billy Batson in the hero's body.

In 1994 DC released Jerry Ordway's re-boot of the character under the title "The Power of SHAZAM!" Again he had a slightly different origin but the same powers, his costume was slightly different, and he maintained the "boy as hero" concept. This was retconned as the part of the new world that emerged from the "Zero Hour" crossover event that happened that same year in DC Comics.
 In 2007, DC released Jeff Smith's "SHAZAM! The Monster Society of Evil" which again re-booted the hero, giving him a slightly different origin and the same costume as the "Power of SHAZAM!" version. In this version the boy and the hero were different personalities, but were starting to merge towards the end
A slightly different version of this character was the hero of the "Billy Batson and the Magic of SHAZAM!" series published for the kid-oriented "Johnny DC" imprint. In this version, the hero had the boy's mind.

Now, if all of these characters, existing on different worlds or after different universe-altering events, count as "different characters," then the New 52 hero, named "Shazam," is not the same character as the original Captain Marvel.

If, however, you want to say that a character with a different origin, different concept, different costume, different powers, a different name, and living on a different world, but marketed under the same trademark as a previous character is the same character as that previous version, then yes, Captain Marvel's name has been changed to Shazam, along with almost everything else about him.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Two movies, Three Articles

Some big news is dropping about the two Captain Marvel-relevant movies that have recently begun production: DC's Shazam! and Marvel's Captain Marvel. I don't have time to write everything that I want about them right now, so I am going to link three articles here to revisit later, if I can.

First, about Shazam!: The suit has been revealed!

This is the final confirmation that this movie is not about a superhero named Captain Marvel. Despite director David F. Sandberg posting pictures of Fawcett comics, Captain Marvel action figures, a clip from an animated cartoon with Captain Marvel, and even a drawn comic strip with Captain Marvel referred to by name, this movie is not going to have any version of the classic character by that name.

As the casting rumors and announcements hit the news websites and spread throughout the clickbait-verse one by one, it became clear that the cast of characters was coming from DC's New 52 story about the superhero named "Shazam."Instead of the "Seven Deadly Enemies of Man" we had the "Seven Deadly Sins," The foster parents and additional foster siblings of Billy, Mary, and Freddy were cast, Dr. Sivana is to be played by someone tall and good-looking, and IMDB even reports that Mr. Bryce, a Richard Branson-inspired millionaire is part of the cast.

Then word came out that the hero's costume would be inspired by that worn by the hero Shazam in the DC animated movie JLA: War. THis costume is the spoctume worn by the hero Shazam in the New 52 story.

And now we have the picture, leaked form on-set, of the costume of the hero of this movie. As movie costumes go these days, it is remarkably faithful in design to the costume of the New 52 Shazam, even down to the infamous hood.

As regular readers f this blog know, DC decided to title the comic book that chronicled the adventures of the original Captain Marvel "SHAZAM!" because Marvel Comics had trademarked "Captain Marvel" in 1967 before DC licensed the original character from Fawcett in 1972. In 2006 DC made the lead character to be marketed under that trademark Freddy Freeman, whose new superhero name was Shazam, and when DC created the New 52, the re-imagined Billy Baston and his heroic alter ego to have that same name as well.

This hero, his origin, his costume, his powers, and his alter ego were drastically different from the original. Some people liked it, but a lot of fans of the original did not. One could say that this hero was more "based on" or "inspired by" the original Captain Marvel than simply a "new version" of him.

Since it was later revealed that the universe of the New 52 was actually a "multiverse," and there were 52 different universes, each with their own set of superheroes, and one of these universes, "Earth-5," had the original Captain Marvel on it, I was comfortable with the idea that Shazam and Captain Marvel were two different heroes, existing simultaneously on different worlds. I like the original CM better, though.

I had been hoping for a great movie about that beloved character since a SHAZAM! movie was first announced in 2002, but with the release of this picture of the costume, it is the final nail on the coffin of any idea that anything in this movie is going to be about anything other than the New 52 Shazam. If there is any reference to the original Captain Marvel that cannot be found in the New 52, it is just crumbs to the faithful.

Meanwhile in a different note, Marvel Comics is updating the origin of their Captain Marvel.

The description of the actual incident in which she gets her powers is non-specific enough ("a chance encounter with a Kree hero gave her incredible super powers") that it may not actually be different from what happened between 1967 and 1977, but they are obviously focusing more on the psychological and emotional effects that this had on Carol Danvers. This is undoubtedly an attempt to boost interest and mainstream familiarity with the character in anticipation of her movie.

I wonder why DC is not making more of a similar effort with their movie-bound hero?

Finally, in researching this post, I found this old article ("Meet Captain Marvel: Fighter Pilot, Feminist and Marvel's Big Gamble") that came out shortly after Marvel announced their Captain Marvel movie. What with all the #MeToo business going on and women's roles in society being looked at closer and closer, I thought this had extreme relevance and was worth revisiting.