William "Billy" Batson was a young boy who, by saying the magic word "SHAZAM", became the powerful and popular crimefighter Captain Marvel. Still coming into his own as a young superhero, Billy would strive to follow the example of his favorite hero: Superman. To his credit, Captain Marvel quickly became respected and admired, both in his home of Fawcett City and beyond. He was eventually extended an invitation to join the expanded Justice League.
Billy believed in fair play, taking people at their word and giving them the benefit of the doubt, an optimistic viewpoint that very often borders on naiveté (but then, he's still in grade school). He attended C.C. Binder Elementary School.
Billy's youthful chattiness and cheerful outlook led to an unwitting public endorsement of Lex Luthor's candidacy for the President of the United States of America. This immediately brought him a stern reprimand from the League and Superman in particular. Though impressed by Marvel's powers, Superman was rubbed the wrong way by Billy's seemingly simplistic sense of right and wrong. Batman noted that Captain Marvel seemed exceedingly "sunny".
During a groundbreaking ceremony to commemorate "Lexor City", Lex Luthor's high-tech low-income housing complex of the future, Superman detected what he believed to be a destructive device far below the grounds. Despite Luthor's assurances that the machine was harmless, Superman attempted to shut it down. He was opposed by Captain Marvel, and in an uncharacteristic show of frustration and anger, Superman attacked the younger hero. The battle destroyed much of Lexor City, and ended when Marvel attempted to harm Superman with his magical thunderbolt one time too many. Once Superman managed to turn the tables on Marvel, the subsequent charge reverted him back into Billy Batson, and Superman was able to destroy the device.
However, Superman's accusation was proven false by the Atom, and the Man of Steel was publicly embarrassed. His humiliation was further compounded when Lex took the loss in stride before television cameras, and offered to construct Lexor City out of his own pocket... For a second time. Naturally, the entire situation had been purposely created by Luthor and Amanda Waller; in fact it had gone even better than planned.
After the Lexor City debacle, a disillusioned Captain Marvel quit the Justice League. He felt that the League was sinking to their enemies' level and that they no longer acted "like heroes". He presumably returned to Fawcett City to resume his solo career.
Powers and abilities
Billy Batson, an average 10-year-old student in his secret identity, took the (approximately) 30-year-old superhuman form of Captain Marvel by speaking a magic word: "SHAZAM!" This brought a mystical thunderbolt from the sky, which transformed him into Captain Marvel and later back into Billy.
His powers were a general match for Superman's, minus super hearing, heat vision and X-ray vision. In his battle with Superman, Captain Marvel demonstrated that the two are approximately equal in terms of physical abilities, although Superman actually seemed to have the upper hand for most of the fight (towards the end of the battle Captain Marvel is shown holding his left arm as though it were injured, while Superman appears uninjured, Captain Marvel was also tiring noticeably at the end and Superman also seemed to land more blows during the course of the fight). Marvel possessed a very high level of superhuman strength and was generally invulnerable; he could move and fly at incredible speeds, and had god-like stamina.
He could also use the magical thunderbolt as a weapon by saying "Shazam" and then moving his target into the thunderbolt's path. This tactic allowed him to burn Superman twice before Marvel was twisted into the path of a third bolt, instantly ending the conflict by changing him back into Billy Batson.
Captain Marvel's invulnerability seemed to be just short of Superman's. However unlike Superman, Marvel was vulnerable to only the most powerful of magic-based attacks (which are Superman's secondary weakness, after kryptonite). His only known weakness was to attack him in his normal form, and prevent him from saying "Shazam".
Captain Marvel was originally a character created by C.C. Beck of Fawcett Comics to compete directly with DC's Superman comics. Marvel debuted in Whiz Comics #2 in 1939. The character proved to be so popular that sales eventually exceeded that of the Superman comics, and in fact at one time Captain Marvel's books were the best selling comics in the world, with monthly sales in the millions at his peak; Captain Marvel was also one of the very first comic book superheroes to be depicted in the movies. However, DC claimed the character was too similar to Superman and launched a successful legal action against Fawcett that resulted in Captain Marvel's comics being cancelled. In the mid-1970s, however, DC reintroduced the character, who subsequently was also featured in a popular live-action Saturday morning series entitled Shazam.
Captain Marvel was imbued with the powers of several historical and mythical figures:
- Solomon (wisdom)
- Hercules (strength)
- Atlas (stamina)
- Zeus (power)
- Achilles (courage)
- Mercury (speed)
It is presumed that Captain Marvel's DCAU origin at least resembles that of the comics version: orphan Billy Batson is led to a strange underground cavern by a bizarre-looking subway train. There he meets the wizard Shazam, who grants Billy the power to fight for justice as "Captain Marvel", simply by speaking the wizard's name.
By the time DC reintroduced Captain Marvel to the comic world in the 1970s, not only had the name Marvel been usurped by DC's major publishing rival, but Marvel Comics had also introduced its own character by the name Captain Marvel. For obvious legal reasons, therefore, DC could not use the Captain Marvel name on any comic book title. As a result, almost every DC book featuring the "Fawcett Marvels" has instead been published with the word "Shazam" somewhere in the title, starting with the initial mid-70s title that reintroduced the character, Shazam!, as well as other titles such as Superman vs. Shazam, The Power of Shazam and The Shazam Family. This has had an interesting side effect: since the character's appearance is well-known to the general public, and since the name "Captain Marvel" is so rarely used to label the character, many people (if not most) believe that the super-hero's actual name is indeed "Shazam". In 2009 media reports indicated that a live-action movie featuring Captain Marvel was in the planning stages; it, too, will be entitled Shazam.
|“||We really did want to do the Captain Marvel/Superman fight and, since we're not going to be doing any more Superman episodes, that doesn't seem likely to happen. That's one that I'll kinda miss doing.||”|
- There were at least two reported instances where Captain Marvel was meant to appear on the DCAU. The first one was during the Superman: The Animated Series run:
The other one was on "Hereafter", to replace a seemingly dead Superman:
|“||At that time, the rights to Captain Marvel weren't available to us, so we couldn't do that. Somehow that story got mixed up with "Hereafter", and somebody, I can't remember who, said, 'If we can’t have Captain Marvel replace Superman, who would be the best person to replace him?' Well, it couldn’t be anybody obvious that people would suspect, and we came up with Lobo. Within five minutes we had that whole story plotted out; everything just fell into place.||”|
— Bruce Timm, RetroVision CD-ROM Magazine
- Although Captain Marvel never appeared on-screen until "Clash", someone who looks like a slightly older Billy Batson makes a cameo appearance in the The New Superman Adventures episode "Obsession". He is among the reporters covering the fashion show early in the episode.
Appearances and references
|Members of the Justice League|
|Batman • The Flash • The Green Lantern • Hawkgirl • J'onn J'onzz • Superman • Wonder Woman|
|Aquaman • The Atom • Atom-Smasher • Aztek • B'wana Beast • Black Canary • Blue Devil • Booster Gold • Captain Atom • Captain Marvel • Commander Steel • The Creeper • The Crimson Avenger • Crimson Fox • Dove • Dr. Fate • Dr. Light • Dr. Mid-Nite • Elongated Man • Etrigan • Fire • Green Arrow • Gypsy • Hawk • Hourman • Huntress • Ice • Long Shadow • Metamorpho • Mr. Terrific • Nemesis • Obsidian • Orion • Plastic Man • Question • The Ray • Red Tornado • Rocket Red • Sand • Shining Knight • Speedy • Stargirl • Starman • Steel • S.T.R.I.P.E. • Supergirl • Johnny Thunder • Thunderbolt • Vibe • Vigilante • Vixen • Waverider • Wildcat • Zatanna|