Marvel’s Captain Marvel and DC’s Captain Marvel (now known as Shazam), will be competing at the box office next year. But before these two movies hit the screens, let’s look at why the two biggest comic book houses have a character of the same name – and what makes them different.
DC’s Captain Marvel came way first before Marvel’s version. He first appeared in Fawcett Comics’ Whiz Comics #2, as the troubled kid Billy Batson’s superheroic alter ego. Billy becomes Captain Marvel every time he shouts the magic word, “Shazam!” Captain Marvel was one of the many “Marvel” characters which Fawcett Comics created at that time.He was the most popular comic book superhero in the 1940s and was the first superhero to have his story adapted to film (1941’s 12-film serial entitled Adventures of Captain Marvel). Watch the trailer for the first Captain Marvel film below:
Fawcett Comics’ success with Captain Marvel came to a halt when DC (then known as National Comics) filed a lawsuit against them for developing a character that was too close to Superman. Because of the lawsuit, Fawcett ceased creating Captain Marvel comics in 1953, and it remained out of print from 1953 to 1972. In 1972, DC Comics acquired the rights to the character from Fawcett Comics. However, DC had to rename the character to Shazam after Marvel Comics trademarked their own Captain Marvel when the original series was out of circulation in the 1960s. Today, none of DC Comics’ materials refer to Shazam as Captain Marvel, even though he was the very first one in existence.
DC’s Captain Marvel was the alter ego of a troubled orphan named Billy Batson who wants to be good. Billy had just transferred to his newest foster home when he was summoned by the Wizard Mamaragan. To aid Billy’s efforts of becoming a good person, the Wizard bestows him the power to wield the ‘Living Lightning’ and become the superhero Captain Marvel by saying the word, “SHAZAM!”. Captain Marvel’s superpowers are the combined abilities of six gods, namely Solomon the Wise, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury.
Marvel’s Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell) first appeared in Marvel Super-Heroes #12 in December 1967. Mar-Vell was a Pink Kree alien warrior sent by the Kree Empire to spy on Earth. During his stay on the planet, he became increasingly compassionate towards humans and fell in love with NASA’s head of Security Carol Danvers, the current Captain Marvel. After Mar-Vell died, his genetically-engineered son Genis-Vell became Captain Marvel. Phyla-Vell, Genis’ sister formed through his recreation of the universe also became Captain Marvel. Other characters such as Monica Rambeau/Pulsar and Skree sleeper agent Khn’nr also took on the title.
The current Captain Marvel is Carol Danvers, a U.S. Air Force officer and NASA’s head of security. She acquired her powers fter being exposed to radiation from a Kree-Psyche Magnetron during Mar-Vell’s confrontation with his Kree leader Yon-Rogg. She reappeared as Ms. Marvel possessing superhuman powers and a half-Kree physiology. Mar-Vell named her the new Captain Marvel just before his death. Captain Marvel also became a member of The Avengers, the New York-based Mighty Avengers, and The New Avengers.
Existence in the Same Multiverse?
Marvel Comics teased the possibility of the two Captain Marvels existing in the same multiverse in the latest edition of Infinity Countdown Prime. Carol Danvers is shown holding the Reality Stone, one of the life-threatening Infinity Stones hidden on Earth. In the comic, we learn that the Reality Stone is being held not just by Danvers but all the other Captain Marvels, including Mar-Vell, Monica Rambeau, and another Captain Marvel sporting a similar costume as DC’s version.
It’s interesting that the two Captain Marvels will be seen on the big screen in the same year, even if one of them isn’t called by that name anymore. Both films started production in late January 2018 and will be premiering in theatres a month apart in 2019.
Marvel Studios’ “Captain Marvel” stars Brie Larson in the title role with Jude Law playing the role of Mar-Vell. Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck are directing the film, which will debut in theatres on 8 March 2019. Warner Bros. “Shazam!” on the other hand, stars Zachary Levi as Shazam, and Asher Angel as Billy Batson and is directed by David Sandberg. “Shazam!” comes out in theatres on 5 April 2019.
DC’s Captain Marvel and Marvel’s Captain Marvel are two characters of the same name with two stories that are very different from each other. But if there’s one thing that’s similar between these two superheroes other than their name, then that would be having a loyal following throughout decades.
(Cover Photo from DC official website and Marvel Wikia page)