SHAZAM! Who is the DC superhero that (almost) nobody knows

The theatrical release Shazam! , the superhero movie based on the DC Comics character of the same name, directed by director David F. Sandberg ( Annabelle: Creation , Lights Out ) and featuring Zachary Levi and Mark Strong as main stars, may be the big surprise of DC you need to regain the lead in superhero movies and catch up with the characters of Marvel Studios.

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What appears to be the most light-hearted film to date of Warner’s adaptations of the DC Universe has been described as a mix between Superman and Big (the mythical film starring Tom Hanks in the 1980s), and has a sense of humor and Some good vibes that are radically different from Zack Snyder’s previous approaches and from the dark and tragic approach of this whole attempt at a shared universe.

SHAZAM! – Official Teaser Trailer [HD]

Shazam! proposes a return to the classic superhero cinema, with a young man with a secret identity who must face an evil villain, all adapted to modern times and with an approach aimed at young and family audiences. What is sought in this case is to portray a normal person with whom the viewer can identify, in the style of the successful Spider-Man played by Tom Holland.

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We now tell you who Shazam is, a character little known by the general public but with a great (and complex) career behind him.

Captain Marvel or Shazam?

Captain Marvel (translated into Spanish as Captain Marvel or Captain Marvel) was created in 1939 by screenwriter Bill Parker and cartoonist Clarence Charles Beck for Fawcett Comics, making his first appearance in Whizz Comics #2 (February 1940).

First apparition

The character was a commercial response to Superman, who not only dressed very similarly (in circus strongman tights and cape), but also had very similar powers. Due to these similarities, DC sued Fawcett for plagiarism and won the lawsuit, so his adventures stopped being published before the 1950s and 1960s arrived.

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Following the purchase of the rights to the character in 1972, the character is owned by DC Comics. However, although the company owns the character, the same does not happen with the name, which was registered in 1968 by Marvel Comics when Stan Lee created the cosmic hero of the same name to take advantage of the existing void. Thus, the name/brand “Captain Marvel” may not appear as the title of any publication not owned by Marvel Comics.

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Unable to call him Captain Marvel (whose name was the competition now) DC had to rename his comic’s masthead as Shazam! , which was the magic word that gave him his powers.

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Origin and trajectory

Young Billy Batson is an orphan who came to the attention of a powerful old wizard who gave him amazing magical abilities and tasked him with defending the Rock of Eternity (an enchanted place situated at the nexus of space and time). Every time Billy utters the word “Shazam!” , he transforms into a powerful hero with abilities to rival those of Superman himself.

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The wizard Shazam has granted a number of mortals throughout history the power of his word. Every time someone says his name, he is struck by lightning and receives the powers of the supposed six ancient sages, whose names are an acronym for SHAZAM: Solomon , Hercules , Atlas , Zeus , Achilles and Mercury .

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Since then, Billy leads a double life. Some days he’s a lonely foster kid looking to find his way in the world, and other days he takes to the skies and battles villains like the evil Dr. Sivana or Black Adam .

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Shazam has had a fairly constant presence since 1972. At first he existed on his own world in the DC multiverse (Earth-S), but after Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985), the multiverse was destroyed and the Shazam family was included in the Main DCU along with Justice Society of Earth-2 and former Charlton Comics characters like Blue Beetle, Question and Captain Atom.

Seven sins

After Crisis , the character underwent several reboots that only managed to make fans dizzy and make the character and its continuity even more confusing. Special mention deserves the delicious miniseries SHAZAM! The Monster Society of Evil, written and drawn by Jeff Smith ( creator of the successful indie comic Bone).

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The new official origin of the character was introduced in the New 52 , ​​by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank. In this new version, the wizard Shazam went through many candidates before finally landing on Billy Batson. He had been looking for a person with a pure heart, but the orphan did not quite fit the bill, as he was often manipulative and selfish. However, when Billy pointed out to the wizard that no one was completely pure, Shazam decided that the boy had potential and passed on his powers to him.

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At the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con , the new Shazam! by Geoff Johns (a great admirer of the character) and Dale Eaglesham, who will explore different magical worlds and which, together with the film, is a very good entry point for readers and fans.

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marvel family

Due to the tremendous success of the character in the 1940s, other characters with the adjective “Marvel” in their name appeared: Captain Marvel Jr. in Whiz Comics #25 (1941) and Mary Marvel in Captain Marvel Adventures #18 (1942).

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The Marvel Family is the common name for the set of recurring characters in Captain Marvel’s adventures, including collaborators, close friends, and recurring allies. Some of them have the particularity of having inherited a percentage of Captain Marvel’s powers, as in the case of Billy’s twin sister, Mary Batson (Mary Marvel) and Freddy Freeman (Captain Marvel Jr.).

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We can also find curious characters like Uncle Marvel (Uncle Marvel), Freckels Marvel (Marvel Freckles) or Hoppy, the Marvel Bunny (Marvel Rabbit).

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Of course, we can’t forget about Mr. Tawky Tawny, the anthropomorphic tiger friend of Billy and his sister and valuable ally in their adventures.

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Enemies of the most varied

The hero’s recurring foe was originally Doctor Sivana , a rather more twisted and perverse sort of Lex Luthor.

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However, his particular nemesis has always been Black Adam , a kind of dark reverse of the hero himself and the first mortal to have used the power of Shazam.

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But while Billy had become a hero, Adam had used his powers to make himself the tyrant and king of Egypt. Subsequently, Black Adam has been redefined as a corrupt anti-hero determined to clear his name. In 2009, he was rated the 16th greatest villain of all time in comics. For several years there has been talk of a movie about the character, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

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The most powerful mortal in the world

Shazam ‘s name is an acronym that comes from the six mythological figures that give him his powers. Our hero has the wisdom of Solomon , the strength of Hercules , the stamina of Atlas , the power of Zeus , the courage of Achilles , and the speed of Mercury .

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This set of abilities is very similar to Superman’s powers and also includes super strength, invulnerability, and flight. He also possesses a variety of magical abilities, including the power to generate lightning bolts and easily solve complex puzzles and codes in the blink of an eye.

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Shazam also has the ability to transfer a portion of his power to others, such as in the case of Mary Marvel (Billy’s long-lost sister Mary) and Captain Marvel Jr. (his best friend, Freddy Freeman).

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the first shazam

In “The Captain Marvel of 7,000 BC” , published in World’s Finest Comics #262 (1980) we discover the origin of the wizard Shazam. Written by E. Nelson Bridwell and drawn by Don Newton, this story sees a young Shazam, who calls himself Champion , traveling to the future to enlist the help of Captain Marvel. Here we see that he was also a teenager who was transformed into a hero with a magic word, in his case “Vlarem” (an anagram of “marvel” ). The word referred to his abilities: V oldar ‘s strength, Lumiun ‘s wisdom, Arel’s speed, Ribalvei ‘s power ,Elbiam , the resistance of Marzosh .

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Many years later, in The Power of Shazam #10 (1995), Jerry Ordway presented his version of the wizard Shazam’s origins, using some elements of Bridwell’s story. Young Shazam, whose birth name is revealed to be Jebediah , lost his family before becoming a superhero his age.

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big red cheese

True fans of the character know that the character is known by the nickname Big Red Cheese or Great Red Cheese. In Captain Marvel Adventures #17, Dr. Sivana invented a serum to make other people hate Captain Marvel, which he calls “a big red cheesecake”.

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Later, when the evil doctor makes Billy Batson and Beautia Sivana (his beautiful and good-natured daughter, madly in love with Captain Marvel) hate the hero, they both speak of him as a “big piece of red cheese”, definitively creating this nickname, which has continued to be used by fans to refer to the character.

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pop icon

During his childhood and adolescence, Elvis Aaron Presley was an avid reader of comics, his favorite character being Captain Marvel Jr. , one of Captain Marvel’s companions, who came to star in his own publication in the 1940s. During Elvis’s childhood, the Marvel family comics outsold Superman himself, something very complicated in those years.

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It was not uncommon to find little Elvis reading the adventures of the big red cheese and his friends. Currently, the Elvis museum in Memphis has a copy of Captain Marvel Jr. #51 next to the singer’s old bed.

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The first direct influence with Captain Marvel Jr. occurred when the young Elvis was starting his career, adopting his idol’s hairstyle, including the long sideburns and curl that were the hallmark of Freddy Freeman ‘s alter ego . The most obvious and well-known occurred several years later, when during his long stage in Las Vegas all his costumes were inspired by the clothing of his favorite childhood superhero, including capes that were faithful imitations of those that appeared in the comic and white scarves. like the ones Freeman wore when he wasn’t fighting crime.

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When Elvis designed his personal symbol (found on his plane, his mansion, on rings, cards, and even on his gun), he made it a slightly stylized version of the Captain Marvel logo, a lightning bolt, to which he added the letters TCB , which means they were an abbreviation for Taking Care of Business in a Flash .

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DC Comics has made many nods to the relationship between Captain Marvel Jr. and Elvis Presley. For example, in the pre- New 52 continuity, the superhero repeatedly declared himself a fan of the musician, even admitting that he copied Elvis ‘s look . In the award-winning story Kingdom Come by Alex Ross and Mark Waid, the character is introduced as King Marvel, renamed in honor of the singer and with an appearance practically copied from the King of Rock.

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“The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill” is a song by The Beatles from their White Album (1968). Written by John Lennon, the song was inspired by real events that took place at Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram, a place where the Beatles and other guests went to study transcendental meditation. During his stay, Lennon was greatly affected by another guest’s decision to go tiger hunting, an act that Lennon believed belied the peaceful nature of the place.

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Throughout the song, the hunter is described as a childish man who wants to kill tigers to prove himself. However, when the hunter is surprised by a tiger, the song suddenly compares him to Captain Marvel: this seemingly heroic man is at heart a child, who hides his childishness with false bravado.

Deep in the jungle where the mighty tiger lies
Bill and his elephants were taken by surprise
So Captain Marvel zapped in right between the eyes
All the children sing

Appearances in other media

In 1941 Republic Pictures created a 12-part serial called Adventures of Captain Marvel , starring Tom Tyler as Captain Marvel and Frank Coghlan, Jr. as Billy Batson. Actor Burt Boyer also starred in a Captain Marvel radio show in 1943, though few traces of that project have survived.

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The character’s next big break came in 1974 when Filmation created a live television series called Shazam! The series took quite a few liberties with the source material, featuring the wizard (Les Tremayne) and Billy (Michael Gray) as a duo traveling the country in their caravan settling wrongs along the way. It was later joined by The Secrets of Isis series and in 1981 an animated series called The Kid Power Hour With Shazam .

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Subsequently, the character has appeared in various DC animation series ( Justice League Unlimited , Young Justice , Batman: The Brave and the Bold), animated films ( Superman/Batman: Public Enemies , Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox , Superman/Shazam : The Return of Black Adam ) and video games ( Injustice: Gods Among Us ).

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The superhero we need

The film closely follows Shazam’s new origins introduced in The New 52. In the film, Billy is assigned to a new foster home where he befriends Freddy, a super comic book fan. One day, Billy’s subway ride is interrupted by a mysterious wizard who has been searching for centuries for the right successor to inherit his powers. He reveals that the teen has been selected to gain a variety of abilities, and all it takes is for Billy to say “SHAZAM!”

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Having Billy as a troublesome kid who initially abuses his powers is an interesting premise for the story. The young Disney Channel actor Asher Angel is in charge of playing Billy Batson; Jack Dylan Grazer (the anxious hypochondriac Eddie from the IT remake ) is perfect for the role of Freddy Freeman; and, of course, Zackary Levy (from the Chuck series) completely fills the tights of the mighty hero in the adult version of him.

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Although many have been skeptical of this project since it was first announced, this film has the potential to be one of the most exciting additions to the DC Cinematic Universe.

We only have one word left to say before we say goodbye… Shazam!

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