Captain Marvel - Shazam! Movie Review and History of the Shazam Character
(Updated and expanded - April 8, 2019)
By Karl Stern (@wiwcool)
This weekend When It Was Cool headed out to the theater to see the latest offering from the DC movie universe with Shazam! Shazam (Captain Marvel) has long been one of our favorite comic book characters dating back to his return to the mainstream in the 1970s with the Mego action figure, Shazam! comic book series, Saturday morning cartoon, and live action Saturday morning series.
Over the last decade, DC Comics has made significant changes to the Captain Marvel character including altering his classic name to Shazam (it’s a long and complicated story). While I’m not a big fan of that change, well, it is what it is. While the new version of the classic Captain Marvel might rub old school purest the wrong way the new character still had the chance to be redeeming and, in our opinion, it was.
Far and away the brightest, funniest, and I dare I say the most entertaining of the DC movie universe offerings to date, Shazam! was a the story of a moral journey of lone street survivor outcast Billy Batson and his road toward understanding the true meaning of family and being a hero. Along the way you got all the superhero tropes you would want - a bad guy, monsters, super human feats, and yes… a fight scene that ran too long.
The movie isn’t perfect by any stretch. The CGI effects of the Seven Deadly Sins left a lot to be desired in 2019. The final fight scene between Shazam and Dr. Silvana went entirely too long and the characters lack of an actual proper name (which is also an element of the current Shazam! comic book series) is irritating and unnecessary.
Still, when all was said in done, we left this film feeling uplifted and excited which is certainly not the case with most of grim DC movie offerings so far. I expected the worst from this iteration of Shazam but instead was treated to a fun, inspiring, and exciting super hero movie. Two thumbs up.
The following are older news bits and history of the Shazam character from When It Was Cool.
A new official Shazam! trailer was released yesterday. The feedback from what I have seen so far has been positive and even Eminem is on board with this one lending one of his hit songs to the score.
This article was originally written before the Shazam movie was officially announced and filmed. Photos leaked online in numerous places confirm that the suit that will be used in the new Shazam movie will be a variation of a modern era costume. When It Was Cool will continue to update this article as more movie news is released. Be sure to also check out our review of the first time Captain Marvel / Shazam appeared in a live action film- Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941)
Today the When It Was Cool website celebrates one of the only pure and true heroes of the superhero genre- Captain Marvel! Let's go ahead and clear up the confusion right out of the gate. The character's name is Captain Marvel even though he has often been called Shazam. Now, if only it were only that simple. In the golden age of comics, the character's name was Captain Marvel and the old Wizard who gave him his powers was named Shazam. By saying the Wizard's name, young Billy Batson, could transform himself into the powerful Captain Marvel.
However, DC Comics sued Fawcett Comics over the similarities between Captain Marvel and Superman. Ultimately, DC Comics would come to own the character outright. Of course, Marvel Comics also came out with their own various Captain Marvel characters over the years. DC Comics revived Captain Marvel in the 1970's under his own comic book title "Shazam" and the character also got a live-action Saturday morning television show and a cartoon series and culturally many kids began simply calling him Shazam. In the current era of comics, DC has thrown in the towel trying to call him Captain Marvel and have simply renamed him Shazam... so I suppose technically speaking he now IS Shazam... though in my heart he will always be Captain Marvel.
Shazam the movie has now officially been green-lit and is currently filming. (Update: We are now, obviously very close to the release date of the film) Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson had long been associated with the role of Shazam villain Black Adam but it appears that Black Adam will not be in the first Shazam movie. Instead, the lead villain will be original Captain Marvel rival Dr. Sivana.
There is a marvelous (sorry) appeal to the Captain Marvel character. Captain Marvel is really the young homeless boy Billy Batson who becomes a childhood radio personality (at WHIZ Radio of course). Captain Marvel has a refreshing innocence about him that is sorely needed in this era of the dark and brooding super hero.
Even Superman has been presented in the current era in the DC movies as an unsmiling dark hero. Captain Marvel could be the perfect antithesis to that if allowed to be. However, the handling of the (now named) Shazam character in the modern DC Comics continuity has left a lot to be desired and is a vast departure from the classic character.
Here is our retro TV review podcast of the Shazam! (1974) TV series - Click Here.
DC Comics has recently resurrected the Shazam comic book series which seems to line up more with what the film will be presenting and yet another (but seemingly better) take on Shazam and his whole mythos including introducing a whole set of new magical worlds for the hero to explore with his “Marvel” family. We reviewed the debut issue on episode three of the When It Was Cool Comic Review Podcast.
The film has also brought with it some new Shazam / Captain Marvel related toys and action figures. When It Was Cool will have a review of those soon. So keep checking back!
If you found this article interesting consider becoming a Patreon supporter. That is how When It Was Cool keeps our website and podcasts online, plus you get lots of bonus content including extra and extended podcasts, articles, digital comics, ebooks, and much more. Check out our Patreon Page to see what's up!
If you don't want to use Patreon but still want to support When It Was Cool then how about a one time $5 PayPal donation? Each donation helps keep our content online. Thank you!