Shazam: Revisiting the promising start to a franchise that didn’t last

We revisit Shazam, which proved to be a strong start to a new DCU franchise, although it sadly ended prematurely.

A superhero character that starts as a little boy and can simply become a superhero with just a word? That sounds like the dream of nearly every kid growing up that read comic books. So it’s not a surprise that this lesser-known character ended up being one of DC’s biggest successes on the silver screen. From hiring a horror director with no action experience to hiring a comedy lead not exactly known for his physique, this had almost everything working against it. Yet it managed to be the most highly praised in all of superhero film, so today on DC Revisited, let’s go into the Rock of Eternity and say his name, as we get into everything Shazam!

Shazam had a pretty unique history, first appearing back in Whiz Comics in 1940, his name was originally Captain Thunder. This changed to Captain Marvelous, then shortened down to Captain Marvel. Then after being sued by DC for being too close to their character Superman, the comic book series featuring Captain Marvel was cancelled. He would be revived over the years under the name Marvelman and Miracleman. But what exactly are his powers?

Like Superman, he has superhuman strength, speed, and flight. His alter ego is a young boy named Billy Batson, who transforms into his alter ego by shouting “Shazam!” It’s every young boys dream.

During this time, Marvel Comics created their own Captain Marvel character, and secured the trademark for the name. So by the time that DC decided to purchase the rights to the original Captain Marvel character, they didn’t have the rights to the name. So they released the comic book “Shazam” with the subtitle: The Original Captain Marvel. This confusing history would follow the character, never truly gaining as much steam as his contemporaries.

While Superman got his own film in the 70’s and Batman in the 80’s, Shazam didn’t even begin any film development until the 2000s when New Line Cinema bought up the rights. They received drafts from William Goldman, Bryan Goluboff, and even John August. The latter of which actually entered pre-production in 2008. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was even in talks to appear at the film’s villain Black Adam. This would serve as a near 15-year journey for Johnson, but we’ll get into that in a coming episode. This episode of DC Revisited is all about Shazam, a movie that seemed like it would launch a franchise, only for it to come to a premature end over the next movie.

About the Author

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Tyler Nichols is a horror fanatic who resides in Michigan and is always on the hunt for the next great film. When not scouring the internet for movie news, he is usually off watching something dark, writing nonsensical musings, or playing in some fantastical video game world. While horror takes up most of his time, he still makes time for films of all types, with a certain affinity for the strange and unusual. He’s also an expert on all things Comic Book Cinema. In addition to reviews and interviews here on JoBlo.com, Tyler also helps with JoBlo Horror Originals where he’s constantly trying to convince viewers to give lesser-known horror films a chance.