Shazam and Captain Marvel are forever linked. That's the crazy story why



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They say life is stranger than fiction, but I know it's true; Because Marvel and DC Comics both have a character called "Captain Marvel", and that in 2019, these two characters have feature films at one month each.

Even if you do not know anything about comics, you may have heard that the main character of Warner Bros. " Shazam! called "Captain Marvel" just like the main character of Marvel Studios " Captain Marvel. Someone might even have explained to you that this is related to a decades-long Cold War between DC and Marvel Comics, or that this is one of the main reasons why Marvel has released a Captain Marvel book for so long, even though the character has never been a constant success.

But the story of Captain Marvels begins decades before Marvel Comics is even called "Marvel Comics" and it's a lot, much wilder than you might expect. Among other things, it involves Superman, spawn Todd McFarlane, creator of the UK Children's Act (Harmful Publications) Act of 1955, the word "atomik" is spelled on the back and one of the most prominent American jurist Judge Learned Hand.

The history of Captain Marvels is that of the American superhero itself, from its origins in 1938 to its modern explosion across the big screen. The effect of training is evident everywhere; for example, there is a direct causal link between the creation of the character called Shazam and the very existence of Alan Moore. guardians.

So, without further ado, the answer to the innocent question "Why are there two Captain Marvels?"


1938-1954: The first quarrel

The 1938 publication of Action Comics No. 1, with the first appearance of Superman, has prompted many writers and artists to try to capture the magic of this miraculously gifted crime fighter. The successors of Siegel and Shuster have succeeded to form Batman, Namor the Sub-Mariner, Sandman, Blue Beetle, Flash, Hawkman, etc.

And in 1939, C.C. Beck and Bill Parker created a hero named Captain Marvel for Fawcett Publications. Whiz Comics # 1. As a magic metro, Billy Batson, an orphaned and homeless paper boy, entered the Rock of Eternity, home of the wise wizard Shazam. For his purity of heart, Shazam endowed Billy with the power of his name, acrobat of Solomon (wisdom) of Solomon (the strength of) Hercules (endurance) of the Atlas (the power of) Zeus (courage). of) Achilles, and (the speed of) Mercury. When Billy said "Shazam!", A thunderclap and lightning exchanged him for Captain Marvel, the deadliest mortal in the world. When Captain Marvel said "Shazam!", Another crash brought Billy Batson back to reality.

As Robin's success, The Boy Wonder, will prove a year later, the new kind of superheroes lacked a proxy for children to see each other in the story. Billy Batson's ability to say a magic word and invoke a good champion was that connection point for Captain Marvel. The hero had an optimistic personality and he quickly acquired a group of equally optimistic characters known as the Marvel family – including Mary Marvel, Uncle Marvel and Captain Marvel, Jr. – whose adventures were closer to Windsor McCay than Bob Kane. Fawcett and Whiz Comics had a blow on their hands.

But DC Comics (at the time National National Comics Publications) was not happy with Captain Marvel. They were even less happy when his comics began to sell more than Superman's comics.

The covers of Action Comics # 1 and Whiz Comics # 1, the first issues of Superman and Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel was a black-haired, square-jawed figure, dressed in a brightly colored tight suit. He was extremely strong and could fly and get rid of balls like rainwater. On the cover of his first cartoon, the hero throws a car like a cardboard box. At the end of his first adventure, Billy Batson got a reporter position for a radio station.

National Comics filed a lawsuit against Fawcett for copyright infringement in 1941. The action took several years to make its way into the US legal system, while Captain Marvel's stories multiplied, going as far as an unprecedented bi-monthly publication schedule.

National and Fawcett were finally tried in 1948, and the judge agreed that Fawcett boldly copied Superman when Captain Marvel was created. But in a double catch for ages, he also decided that similarities did not matter. National had failed to protect certain newspaper strips of Superman by copyright. The Southern District Court of New York found that the company had abandoned its copyright. As a result, his complaint against Fawcett was not valid.

It goes without saying that National appealed the Court of Appeals of the Second Circuit of the United States, where it was judged by the famous American jurist, Judge Billings Learned Hand. Hand ruled that National's copyright was valid and that his claim was well founded – Captain Marvel could very well be an attack on Superman – and sent him back to a lower court for retrial.

But by 1951, two important things had become obvious: first, the chances that a third judge would decide that Fawcett had infringed on National's copyright seemed high. Secondly, sales of superheroes had dropped significantly from their peak of the 1940s, as public opinion turned away from comics and politicians and experts sought to associate them with fears of juvenile delinquency. ;after war.

Rather than go to court a third time, Fawcett settled the bed amicably, paying $ 400,000 to National. Corrected for inflation, it's almost four million dollars. Fawcett has also agreed to never publish a Captain Marvel comic. In 1953, the company would withdraw completely from the comic book publishing sector.

Apart from judicial decisions, the question of whether the creators of Captain Marvel deliberately stole Superman is an open question. Certainly, Captain Marvel does not seem to impinge today on a kind of fully developed superhero in which the powers of flight, strength and invulnerability of Superman are almost a basic model for form.

But Captain Marvel was about to enter a new era: a new era of scams, a new era of comic book history and an entirely new country.


1954-1972: Entry of Mar-Vell

As the Captain Marvel drama cooled in America, things were warming up on the other side of the pond.

In 1945, the English publisher L. Miller & Son had obtained permission to reproduce the bright and cheerful comics of Captain Marvel of Fawcett in the UK, in front of a receptive audience of children who were coming to survive the Second World War. Nine years and some trials later, Captain Marvel remained the biggest seller of the company. But in 1954, when Fawcett was no longer in the field of comics, L. Miller & Son was short of material.


Marvelman Family No. 7, L. Miller & amp; Son (date unknown)

Marvelman family # 7
Mick Anglo / L. Miller & Son

So, Leonard Miller himself hired artist-writer Mick Anglo to create an imitation of Captain Marvel – yes, an imitation of a character who had just spent 10 years avoiding the accusations of "death." to be imitated – to direct one's own book. Anglo delivered the very-atomic-age-inflected Marvelman, in which an astrophysicist uses atomic energy to give young journalist Micky Moran the opportunity to transform into a Marvelman superhero whenever he pronounces the word "KIMOTA". That is "atomic", but back and with a K. There was even a "Marvelman, Jr." or, young Marvelman

For about a decade, Marvelman Comics have been a touchstone in the lives of British children, thanks in part to the Harmful Publications (1955), the nadir of the anti-comic book fervor of the United Kingdom. The law prevented imports of American comics from reaching British shores for a while, allowing local heroes to flourish to flourish, such as Marvelman. But that would not last forever.

In 1961, the American publisher Timely Comics began to mark their Journey into the mystery and Patsy Walker Marvel Comics. This nickname then spread to the company's newest success, a comic from the superhero team called The four fantastics of two types named Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The Marvel Revolution was in motion.

At that time, anti-comic fervency had cooled in the United States and the United Kingdom and reprints of Marvel Comics – run by the company's UK division, rather than by a license granted to a local publisher – were immensely popular. Unable to compete with the American invasion, Miller & Son went bankrupt in 1963 and Marvelman went with them. But it was not the end of Captain Marvel or his imitators. Not far away.


Marvel Super-Heroes # 12, the first issue of Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell), Marvel Comics (1967).

Marvel Super Heroes No. 12, the first issue of Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell).
Gene Colan, Stan Goldberg, Frank Giacoia, Artie Simek / Marvel Comics

In 1967, Marvel Comics, renowned name Timely Comics, discovered that Fawcett Publications had left its mark on the phrase "Captain Marvel" to expire. 16 years later Captain Marvel After production ceased, Marvel Comics began printing a series of the same name, created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan, on the adventures of an alien whose first name was Mar-Vell. For the citizens of the Earth, as would one day the Air Force security officer, Carol Danvers, he was the superhero Captain Marvel.

Marvel exploited the main differences between a trademark and copyright. Trademarks are designed to cover words, phrases, graphics and other brand signifiers, while copyright is designed to protect the ownership of an element of intellectual property – a story, a character, song, or other work. The marks must be defended, sometimes with zeal; the holder must demonstrate that the mark is used regularly and that it has not been generalized, otherwise other companies may defend their own right to use it.

Fawcett still had the copyright on Captain Marvel – his original story, his suit and his comic books – but Marvel Comics was now allowed to use the brand name "Captain Marvel" . And two years after his debut, as sales dropped, Roy Thomas and Gil Kane gave Captain Marvel of Marvel a new gadget in which he had fallen into the trap in the negative zone. The only way for him to fight the crime in our dimension was to change places with a heroic kid wearing a red shirt and blue pants, like the origin of Billy Batson's metro, but with the avid Avengers partner, Rick Jones, and space technology instead of magic.

The beautiful tribute was also a deep cut; in 1969, only intrepid comic readers would have remembered C.C. Beck's Captain Marvel. There was no new story of Captain Marvel – at least no man in red suit who shouted "SHAZAM!" – in almost 20 years. And there probably would have never been again, except for DC Comics. In 1972, the comic giant got a license from the character of Fawcett Publications and began printing a series about a guy named Captain Marvel, wearing a red suit and shouting "SHAZAM!".

Yes, the same company that had chased Fawcett out of the comic trade 21 years ago, because Captain Marvel was similar to Superman, had addressed his opponent and had found an agreement to print the Captain Marvel comics. However, DC's license only covered copyright, not the trademark, and this difference in brand identity would have defined the two captains for almost 40 years.


1972-2011: the second feud

Captain's first Captain Marvel series was called Shazam!, so named to avoid rubbing against the Marvel Comics Marvel Comics trademark. When Carmine Infantino, publisher of DC, gave the book the subtitle "The Original Captain Marvel", Marvel sent a letter of withdrawal to DC to dispel any doubt about how much competition was about to get . The book's mark has been changed to "The World's Most Powerful Mortal" in Issue 15, but in the pages of Shazam!Billy Batson has always summoned a hero who called himself "Captain Marvel".

DC had a row easier to hoe than Marvel. They had the copyright license and, when it ceased operations in 1980, DC purchased all of Fawcett's intellectual property. Copyright does not need to be defended as aggressively as trademarks, and there have been long periods between 1972 and 2011 when Captain Marvel only appeared in other stories books, as a member of a team or not at all. In his classic incarnation, his original creators struggled to gain an audience for the character. It has only one successful series, Jerry Ordway's The power of Shazam!, which aired from 1995 to 1999. (It also had a television series broadcast on CBS from 1974 to 1976).


From the power of Shazam !, DC Comics (1994).

Of The power of Shazam! (1994).
Jerry Ordway / DC Comics

Like Warner Bros. " Shazam! film, the creators of DC (in a combination of works by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Roy and Dan Thomas) slightly modified the character. Since 1987, Captain Marvel and Billy Batson were no longer two different people. Captain Marvel had reached the ultimate conclusion of Billy Batson's original call as a substitute for the audience: he was now literally a child in the body of an adult superhero.

In 1972, the moment DC Comics started publishing Shazam!The Marvel Comics editorial has realized the situation: Given an inch, DC would eagerly bring back the mark in the name of their character. If Marvel wanted to keep it, he would have to regularly publish a comic entitled Captain Marvel, regardless of the popularity of this book, potentially forever. So that's exactly what society did.

Marvel Premier Captain Marvel The series ends in 1979. In 1982, Marvel uses the first book of his revolutionary line Marvel Graphic Novel. Captain Marvel's death, to present the tragic death of Mar-Vell due to cancer. In 1985, the company reprinted a series of ancient Mar-Vell stories under the title The life of Captain Marvel. In 1989 and 1994, Marvel published one-shot stories about Mar-Vell's first successor, Monica Rambeau (played by Akira Akbar in Marvel Studios). Captain Marvel). In 1995 and 1997, Marvel published two short television series with Captain Marvel first name. In 2000, the writer Peter David finally won the gold series title for the first time in 20 years, with a Captain Marvel book about Genis-Vell, the son (somehow) of Mar-Vell and his sister (sort of) Phyla-Vell, which lasted four years. In 2008, Marvel published another miniseries called Captain Marvel, about a skrull sleeping agent of shape change who mistakenly believed himself to be Mar-Vell.

The presence of Captain Marvel in England offers another even more complicated branch of this story. In 1982, a man named Derek "Dez" Skinn, former editor-in-chief of Marvel's British division, obtained verbal permission from Mick Anglo – the creator of the new Marvelman, Marvelman. stories.

Skinn was looking for content for her series of comics anthologies in black and white, warriorand thought that a modern revival of a cult British classic would help to sell copies. The series of anthologies of black and white comics was an essential element of the British comics of the time; and although not so famous 2000 AD, House of Judge dread, warriorThe 26 editions marked the history of comics, including as original publisher of Alan Moore and David Lloyd's. V for Vendetta.


Marvelman, warrior (1982).

Moore Marvelman stories.
Alan Moore, Garry Leach / Warrior

Speaking of Moore, the young writer is the third person Skinn talked about a modernized company. Marvelmanand the first who showed the least interest for her. With Garry Leach and Alan Davis drawing, Moore wrote 21 episodes for warrior, featuring an adult Micky Moran as an unhappy man who dreams of flying. Throughout Moore's story, Moran recovers his memories of being Marvelman, but also discovers that his joyous adventures were a brainwashed illusion that had been inflicted upon him when he was little, by scientists trying to to use foreign technology to place alien almighty being under human control.

Moore's dark contemporary return to Marvelman, from the Golden Age, fiercely questions the very nature of the myth of the superhero and, four years after his departure, warriorit was proof that he had the assets to undertake another project. Moore launched Who killed the peacemaker?, a dark and contemporary cover of Charlton Comics Golden Age characters at DC Comics. The company has accepted and the last series has ended with a different name: guardians.

Dez Skinn finally got a license from Moore Marvelman to American Editions Eclipse Comics, who began reprinting Moore's work in the United States in 1985. Except, just like Captain Marvel of DC Comics, Eclipse could not call the book "Marvelman" without listening to the lawyers of Marvel Comics. The entire series has been renamed, colored, and its text relented, to transform it into Man miracle.


Miracleman, Eclipse Comics (1985).

Alan Moore's Marvelman, now Man miracle.
Alan Moore, Garry Leach / Eclipse Comics

Under Eclipse, Moore continues to write her story – started as Marvelman, now called Man miracle – and in 1988, Neil Gaiman, who wrote the series until 1994, succeeded Eclipse. In 1996, Eclipse's assets, including Man miracle, were bought by spawnTodd McFarlane, creator and entrepreneur, and it was this purchase that led to the series in another major battle of the comic book world.

Gaiman argued that McFarlane improperly compensated him for the co-creation of three spawn characters, and sued McFarlane for the rights of these characters and Man miracle in 2002. All the benefits of the Gaiman Marvel Comics mini-series 2003, Marvel 1602, went directly to Marvels and Miracles, a limited liability company created by Gaiman to determine who actually held the rights to Marvelman / Miracleman. After a court ruled in favor of Gaiman, Marvel Comics bought the rights to Marvelman from Mick Anglo in a much more legally binding way than the Dez Skinn deal.

So, in 2014, Marvel Comics began publishing reprint editions of Man miracle, a reprinted form of Marvelman (renamed by fear of Marvel Comics' lawyers), which was a modern overhaul of the age of gold Marvelmanwhich was an open imitation of Captain Marvel, a character who belongs to DC Comics (after that same company used a lawsuit to ban its publication for 20 years), but whose name belongs to Marvel Comics, who had engaged in a cold war between Captain Marvel and DC for 40 years. Where does everything end?


2011-Now: Enter Carol Danvers

In 2011, DC Comics launched its first continuous restart for over 25 years, at a time known as New 52. Captain Marvel arrived, except that … no one called Captain Marvel. When Billy Batson and his family appeared in New 52's relief stories Justice League, the name of the character was simply "Shazam".

In 2012, writer Geoff Johns told Newsarama that the name change had several reasons, but "everyone thinks he's already calling Shazam, apart from comics … you know, every comic book he's in Shazam on the cover."

Around the time Captain Marvel officially became Shazam, Marvel Comics hit Captain Marvel's gold. Kelly Sue DeConnick and Dexter Soy introduced Carol Danvers – former superhero Ms. Marvel, a former Marvel sidekick. Captain Marvel series – the last character to wear Captain Marvel's boots, and his series was a resounding success. In 2014, Marvel Studios announced that it had a Captain Marvel film in production, although delays do so from the original release date of July 6, 2018.

In 2017, Warner Bros. announced that David F. Sandberg would lead Shazam!, saving a project in development long enough to be called "Captain Marvel movie". Later in 2017, Marvel Comics announced that Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham would return to Man miracle to finish their last interrupted arc once and for all.

March 8, 2019, Captain Marvel hit the theaters. April 5, 2019, Shazam! will be too.


Superman / Shazam! Premier Thunder, DC Comics (2005).

Superman and Shazam (then still called Captain Marvel) in 2005 Superman / Shazam! First thunder.
Judd Winick, Joshua Middleton / DC Comics

Intellectual property battles between superheroes did not begin with Marvel Studios, Sony Pictures and 20th Century Fox. The American comic book industry has been built on epic battles over intellectual property.

Since the early days of comics, the biggest publishers have ensured that artists have virtually no ownership rights to their creations. This standard is only beginning to change in the last 30 years. Inventing intellectual property on a cash-for-work basis is both the biggest hurdle for American comics and, shamefully, one of its greatest strengths.

The working model for leasing has left the creator one after the other in the dust, especially now that characters like Rocket Raccoon, Venom and Aquaman are costing billions of dollars. And yet, in the comics of superheroes, the passage of a character from artist to artist and writer to writer is not only the main way of survival of their stories , but their main mode of evolution. This is how the superheroes remained relevant for four generations of readers and people.

The two Marvel captains are a lesson on when this superhero model par excellence has not only failed, but has worked in reverse.

National Comics' lawsuit may have been helpful to Shazam by keeping him out for 20 years. As it had been preserved in amber, it missed the entire Marvel Revolution – a time when comics of superheroes took a radical and permanent change from the indefatigable models of the world. the golden age and began to reinvent old characters as heroes easier to tell and more imperfect who served. as substitutes for the public for a teen market.

A decade or two after this revolution, as writers tried to interest DC readers in Shazam, the character's original and personality changes never survived more than an attempt to reorganize it. The only thing that stuck was a new explanation for his personality: He seemed childish and naive in the eyes of modern people because he was literally a child.


Shazam (then still called Captain Marvel) meets Lobo in LEGION '91 # 31, DC Comics (1991).

Shazam (then still called Captain Marvel) meets brutal bounty hunter Lobo in 1991 LEGION '91 # 31.
Alan Grant, Barry Kitson / DC Comics

And he remained a jovial and colorful character, even when his peers sank into the vertigo of the '80s and the extreme of the' 90s. At that time, he was not a character who did not evolve. was a character who contrasted interestingly with his peers. He was a welcome return; nostalgia for a lost and perhaps no longer noble era.

On the other hand, the countless innovations brought by Marvel Comics – Captain Marvel is an extraterrestrial man! No, a human woman with energetic powers! No, a genetically modified alien! No, his sister; a skull; his worst enemy! – It still took 40 years and half a dozen completely different incarnations to find a successful character in Captain Marvel.

The confusion of all this still persists. Today, Shazam's article in Wikipedia is still titled "Captain Marvel (DC Comics)," while you will find Marvel's original captain under "Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell)" . Today, Carol Danvers is undoubtedly the most famous Captain Marvel. On the "Captain Marvel (disambiguation)" page of Wikipedia, it is listed not first, nor in second nor third place, but in 12th.

But we have reached a new section of the timeline. As they did for Marvel characters from list B and Batman iterations, Captain Marvel and Shazam! will incorporate two characters with an entangled storyline and clear up 80 years of behind-the-scenes drama.

And the next time you shake your head in front of the complicated backdrop of a superhero, remember: it was probably even more complicated in real life.

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