8 Things You Might Not Know About Shazam!

Created in 1939 by Bill Parker and C. C. Beck, Captain Marvel, now known as Shazam, has an immensely rich history spanning from the Golden Age of comic books all the way to the modern age. In fact, the character is so renowned that he’s even getting his own big-screen adaptation next year, courtesy of New Line Cinema and Warner Bros.

In anticipation of the World’s Mightiest Mortal’s upcoming blockbuster, here are eight things you might not know about Shazam:

  1. He Wasn’t Originally a DC Comics Character

    Although he’s been a mainstay of the DC Universe for decades, Shazam is not, in fact, a DC Comics creation. When Parker and Beck created the character, it was for the now-defunct Fawcett Comics. However, in 1952, a judge ruled in favor of DC’s (then National Comics Publications) claim that Shazam was a rip-off of Superman. Soon after this ruling, Fawcett closed its doors for good, and Shazam was licensed by DC in 1972 and purchased outright by the 1990s.

  2. His Original Name Wasn’t Captain Marvel OR Shazam

    To most readers, the superhero alter-ego of Billy Batson is known as either Captain Marvel or Shazam. When the character was first created, though, he went by neither. Instead, Parker and Beck named him Captain Thunder. However, shortly after the first Captain Thunder story was printed, Fawcett discovered it was unable to license the name because it was already in use. As such, artist Pete Costanza recommended changing the name to what would eventually become Captain Marvel, which brings us to our next entry on this list…

  3. Captain Marvel Has Nothing to Do With Marvel Comics

    Obviously, the name “Captain Marvel” immediately brings to mind Marvel Comics, as well as the multiple characters from the publisher to hold that mantle. In actuality, though, Shazam being named Captain Marvel had nothing to do with the House of Ideas, which was known as Timely Publications at the time. When Fawcett was forced to abandon the name Captain Thunder, the aforementioned Pete Costanza suggested renaming the character Captain Marvelous. The editors then shortened it to Captain Marvel, and the name stuck. Well, it stuck for a while

  4. The Reason Behind the Second Name Change

    It was when the character was relaunched by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank for the New 52 that Captain Marvel was officially renamed Shazam, which was originally the name of the wizard that gave Billy his powers. Why the change, though? Well, according to Johns, “everybody thinks he's called Shazam already, outside of comics. It's also, for all sorts of reasons, calling him Shazam just made sense for us. And, you know, every comic book he's in right now has Shazam on the cover. So I think just by embracing that and calling him Shazam.”

  5. The Meaning of ‘Shazam’

    With all this talk about names, perhaps it’s worth mentioning what the name Shazam actually means.

    S: The wisdom of Solomon

    H: The strength of Hercules

    A: The stamina of Atlas

    Z: The power of Zeus

    A: The courage of Achilles

    M: The speed of Mercury

  6. He Was Once More Popular Than Superman

    During the Golden Age, comic book sales were astronomically more impressive than they are today. Granted, the books also came with a much smaller price tag, but that’s neither here nor there. In any case, in the 1940s, Shazam cemented himself as the most popular superhero being published at the time, even managing to outsell the Man of Steel, himself, thanks to a monthly circulation of 1.3 million copies. 

  7. He Was the First Comic Book Superhero Adapted to Film

    Although Shazam is poised to make his modern big-screen debut next year, it won’t be the first time the character has appeared in film. In fact, Shazam was the very first comic book superhero to be depicted in a motion picture, all the way back in 1941’s Adventures of Captain Marvel serial from Republic Pictures. The serial consisted of 12 chapters, titled:

    "Curse of the Scorpion" (30 min.)

    "The Guillotine" (16 min.)

    "Time Bomb" (17 min.)

    "Death Takes the Wheel" (16 min.)

    "The Scorpion Strikes" (16 min.)

    "Lens of Death" (16 min.)

    "Human Targets" (17 min.)

    "Boomerang" (17 min.)

    "Dead Man's Trap" (16 min.)

    "Doom Ship" (16 min.)

    "Valley of Death" (16 min.)

    "Captain Marvel's Secret" (16 min.)

  8. He Was the Inspiration for Miracleman

    Ever notice the similarities between Shazam and Miracleman? Well, that’s because, without Shazam, there’d be no Miracleman. In the 1950s, a British publisher called L. Miller and Son “created” a character called Marvelman, who was even more of a Shazam pastiche than Shazam was to Superman. Marvelman was shelved in 1963, but in 1982, he was revived by Alan Moore in Warrior Magazine, and three years later, the serialized stories were rebranded as Miracleman due to Marvel’s objection to the use of the word “Marvel” in the title. However, in 2009, Marvel would actually purchase the rights to the Marvelman stories from the 1950s, as well as the Miracleman revival in 2013.

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