How Captain Marvel Stole Shazam’s Name

shazam movie posterIt’s no surprise that Captain Marvel and Shazam! both had movies released within weeks of each other this year.  Despite being from separate comic universes, the two superheroes have always been inextricably linked by a connection with their name.

Shazam was the original Captain Marvel?!

The DC Comics character Shazam was originally known as Captain Marvel.  He started out as a Fawcett Comics character in 1940 and was the most popular superhero at the time.  In 1953, DC filed a lawsuit against Fawcett claiming Captain Marvel was basically just a version of Superman.  In 1972, Fawcett sold the character rights to Captain Marvel to DC.

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Shazam’s search for a name

However, Marvel Comics was already using the copyrighted name Captain Marvel by then for their own original character.  (Note:  At this point, Captain Marvel was still male and not the Carol Danvers of the later era.)  So DC began marketing the character using the copyrighted phrase “Shazam!”, which is what protagonist Billy Batson says to change into a superhero and vice versa.  Many consumers assumed this was the name of the character.

When DC relaunched the title in 2011, they officially named the character Shazam!  There is a running gag in the new movie Shazam! about what to call the main character, which is a sly reference to his history of name changes.  Plus the title Captain Sparkle Fingers probably didn’t test well with audiences.

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