It’s been a long time coming, but they’re finally going through with the Captain Marvel…I mean…Shazam, movie. I don’t remember the last time I was so excited about a DC movie.
There’ve been rumors running around for a long time about a Captain Marvel (it’s hard for me to call him Shazam. It doesn’t feel right) movie. I’ve been let down before, but when Dwayne Johnson (The Rock), confirmed that he was going to play Black Adam, I knew that my prayers to the Geek Gods had been answered. Those virgin sacrifices upon an altar made of comic books and old issues of Dungeon Magazine worked.
I’m not going to talk about the history of Captain Marvel or anything like that (this link is a great start). I’m going to talk about why I love The Big Red Cheese.
Me and Captain Marvel (Not Shazam, godammit!)
One of my oldest memories is waking up early to watch the Shazam! tv show. I didn’t really understand it, but i remember having to watch it every week. I don’t think I was even three years old.
Growing up, my great-uncle Irving used to bring me comic books. Huge packages of random comic books. Mostly he’d bring me Marvel, but sometimes DC. This exposed me to a wide rang of heroes, but I never got one of that weird guy with the white cape and lightning bolt. I used to buy comics at the local Lamstons (a NYC chain similar to Woolworth’s) and they had a small variety of books. I mostly picked up Spidey and Captain America. It wasn’t until I discovered real comic books shops where I saw The Power of Shazam!
Captain Marvel and Superman
Captain Marvel stories are like Superman stories, but goofy and fun. They’re not afraid to be for kids. It’s pure childhood wish fulfillment: an orphan child that becomes a superhero through his own heroism, and then spreads his power to others. He builds a family that he never had. I didn’t realize it until I started writing this article, but I did the same thing with Song of Simon. In Watchmage, you could analyze Nathaniel as the wizard Shazam that gives power to others (Hendricks). It’s proof that the experiences of your past (even things you barely remember) color your writing.
My favorite Captain Marvel appearances come much later, as a member of the JSA and Marvel universe in general. He’s the moral compass that keeps other heroes from sinking too far. He believes in redemption and fair play. He’s as powerful as Superman. I think that he’s more powerful, with the combined might of several gods and the wisdom of Solomon, but they usually have the two fight to a draw (don’t even get me started on the DC Injustice bullshit). The JLA Unlimited episode “Clash” is a good example of the differences between the two (including Marvel wanting to stop fighting around all the bystanders, and Supes not caring.
I especially his interplay with some of the younger women in the JSA, like Stargirl. It shows his duality, a teenage boy in a grown man’s body. At one point the JSA had an intervention to ward off his interest in her. He chose to leave Stargirl and the JSA rather than reveal his secret, as the wisdom of Solomon advised against it. Sometimes wisdom hurts.
I haven’t read any of the new Captain Marvel, but from what I’ve heard, I don’t know if I like it. They made him less of the moral hero and a little bit shady. That takes away from what appeals to me about him. He stands out because he’s unadulterated goodness. He’s the hero that others should aspire to be like, even Superman.
You know why I like Captain Marvel? This:
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