Friday, November 23, 2018


One quick break in the "Blog History of All the Captain Marvels" to share the news that Warners/DC has released a NEW SYNOPSIS for their upcoming SHAZAM! movie, featuring a hero based on the original Captain Marvel.

As reported by Heroic Hollywood (and I don't have time to do another Clickbait Roundup on it), this is the text of the new synopsis:

“We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s (Asher Angel) case, by shouting out one word—SHAZAM!—this streetwise 14-year-old foster kid can turn into the adult Super Hero Shazam (Zachary Levi), courtesy of an ancient wizard (Djimon Hounsou). Still a kid at heart—inside a ripped, godlike body—Shazam revels in this adult version of himself by doing what any teen would do with superpowers: have fun with them! Can he fly? Does he have X-ray vision? Can he shoot lightning out of his hands? Can he skip his social studies test? Shazam sets out to test the limits of his abilities with the joyful recklessness of a child. But he’ll need to master these powers quickly in order to fight the deadly forces of evil controlled by Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong).”

The differences between this and the previous version of the synopsis are few. They have added the phrace "...a ripped, godlike body...", stated that he is "having fun" with his new powers, and estabished that he is facing the challenge of "master(ing) these powers" so he can "fight the deadly forces of evil."

None of these are unexpected details of a superhero film, they seem more like simple expansions of the concepts expressed in the previous synopsis and are hinted at in the trailer. But there is one detail that makes official something everyone already knew except for those people unfamiliar with he character: Dr. Sivana will be the villain!

Those of us who have been following the production have known Dr. Sivana, described in the original comics as "The World's Wickedest Scientist" and self-described "Rightful Ruler of the Universe," would be involved. Mark Strong has been cast in the role, on-set photos revealed him working with Zachary Levy (the hero), and there is a shot in the trailer of him catching the hero's fist and his eyes glowing.

In the original comics, Sivana was short and ugly. He was physically no match for the original Captain Marvel, and used science and chicanery to try to find ways to outwit, out-position, and overcome the hero's opposition to him taking his place as Ruler of the Universe. But somehow the Big Red Cheese was always able to overcome these challenges and obstacles, often because Sivana forgot one little detail that left him vulnerable. Such a character could have been brilliantly played by Armin Shimmerman.

But this version of the hero is based on the New 52 version. For those who may not know, the "New 52" was a 2011 complete re-vamp and re-boot of the entire line of DC Comics. The character who had been known as Captain Marvel ever since he was created for Fawcett Publications in 1939, and had been re-vamped and re-booted at least three times by DC from the 1980's to the 2000's, was put through his most drastic reimagining ever.

As regular readers of this blog should know by now, for trademark reasons, DC could not put the hero's name on the cover of the comic instead deciding to use his transformative magic word, "SHAZAM!" (all caps, with the exclamation point) as the title of the comic and the trademark for merchandising. This confused enough people that for the New 52, the name of the hero to be marketed under that title and trademark would match that title and trademark.

With this change of name also came a change in costume, power set, origin story, and living situation. It also came with a change in the arch enemy.

Dr. Sivana, in the New 52, is a tall, handsome, wealthy man obsessed with finding the secret of magic. He finds the tomb of the ancient wizard Shazam and absorbs the ability to "see magic," as well as use it. It also, eventually started eating away at his body, and he was last seen becoming smaller and uglier, perhaps eventually turning in into the short, ugly character of the original comics.

Mark Strong is a perfect physical type and has a body of work that indicates that he would be a very good choice for this new interpretation of the villain. On top of the increased height and charisma of this new version, the movie is also giving him a degree of physical ability that the comics did not (this is presumably because in the comics Black Adam served as a co-villain to go toe-to-toe with the hero, but that character, announced to be played by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, will be making his debut in another film) which is also well within Mark Strong's wheelhouse.

So, to sum up: The specificities added to this new synopsis pretty much confirm what was already known or obvious, and those who were hoping for a movie about the original Captain Marvel will have to be satisfied with a re-imagined character loosly based on him.

Sort of like the upcoming Robin Hood, but that is an essay for another time.

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Captain Marvel said...
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