FIRST LOOK: Captain Marvel takes flight — but will he ever reach the big screen?

Aug. 05, 2010 | 6:25 p.m.
Captain Marvel Shazam

Will we ever hear the word “Shazam!” on the big screen? In the the golden age of the 1940s, Captain Marvel outsold Superman for a time and the concept of the character — a youngster who utters a magic word and is transformed into the World’s Mightiest Mortal — seems tailor-made for a family film and there has been plenty of efforts put into making the movie happen.

Captain MArvel Shazam golden age

Back in 2007, before this blog even existed, I sat down for lunch with screenwriter John August who was pulsing with excitement about the movie, but the magic lightning never hit.

I suspect we will see Captain Marvel take flight now that Diane Nelson and Geoff Johns are at the fore of a new Warner Bros. initiative to better mine the DC library but don’t be surprised if the hero is at the center of a live-action, prime-time television series instead of a feature film. There are some rumblings about going in that direction although it’s too early to call it much more than focused chatter.

Also, consider this: August (and others in Hollywood) liked the idea of adding a time-limit component to the character’s traditional mythology; essentially, Billy Batson would only be able to inhabit his super-powered alter ego for, say, an hour at a time.

That would add opportunities for peril and also explain why Batson would ever bother shifting back to his more mundane identity. The time-limit and transformation scenes would make the character a natural for episodic television — just like “The Incredible Hulk,” arguably the best comic-book adaptation in network television history.

Black Adam Shazam

In the meantime, Captain Marvel will step into the spotlight with a new animated adventure: “Superman/Shazam! The Return of Black Adam,” which premieres on Blu-ray and DVD on Nov. 9 as the centerpiece of “DC Showcase,” a collection of shorts from the Warner Premiere that also features Jonah Hex, Green Arrow and the Spectre. The four shorts add up to about an hour.

The Captain Marvel short — you can see some images above  — features voice work by Jerry O’Connell (“Crossing Jordan“) as Captain Marvel, Arnold Vosloo (“The Mummy“) as bad-guy Black Adam and George Newbern reprising his “Justice League” role as Superman. Also, two-time Emmy Award winner James Garner (“The Rockford Files“) as the Wizard.

— Geoff Boucher


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ARTWORK: DC Comics/Warner Premiere

More in: Comics, Movies, TV, DC


10 Responses to FIRST LOOK: Captain Marvel takes flight — but will he ever reach the big screen?

  1. Brett says:

    The answer to your story's first question is, "We already have heard 'Shazam!' on the big screen." 1941's "Adventures of Captain Marvel" starred Tom Tyler as the Captain and Frank Coghlan Jr. as Billy Batson.

  2. @ Brett
    I LOVE the old serials — they might be the best serials I've ever seen in fact.
    We had a nice obit on Frank Coghlan Jr. if you missed it…

  3. Gill Avila says:

    Let's hope this new Captain Marvel is different from the 1940's serial. In that one he never spoke a word, but was very handy at throwing people off buildings and using machine guns to deadly effect.

  4. Bobby Tony says:

    NO TIME LIMIT to being Captain Marvel.

  5. Ted says:

    Why no mention of the short lived live action saturday morning tv series – Shazam ?

  6. Aaron Kaye says:

    I think Shazam (Captain Marvel) could be bigger that Superman on the big screen. Why doesn't somebody get smart and put it together, it'll make millions. Mainly, because there are millions of fans out there as myself.

  7. Jose alberto Müller says:

    I think Captain Marvel must be made because he deserves this possibility. New age people must see him on movie. He was a fantastic super hero and can´t be forgoten. Please, please, please return him to life again. Of course you will be glad forever because everyone wil be grateful for.

    I thank you very much // José alberto Müller.

  8. K. Williams says:

    I love the Captain Marvel character and this character should have had a movie or modern tv series long ago. Now that technology has improved, the transformation and other characters he intereacts with will look fine on screeen or tv. The one hour limit thing is STUPID! Why limit such a powerful guy. There is no time limit to Superman so why limit the Captain. A limit is a writer's cop out to a better story. A tv series actually may be the better way to go beacuse we can dive deeper into the origin, and the entire mythos. Hopefully this message will come across to the correct readers.

  9. V. Kugler Jr. says:

    I agree he needs his own movie or TV show! But the time limit idea does sound wrong. He is fighting a heavy hitter villian and he just up and loses his powers because it has been an hour? That would make him totally useless than! Incorparate him not being able to say SHAZAM for some reason, but no time limit. Billy being who he was on the inside was the whole reason he was chosen in the first place. That is why he would want to be himself again! Come on Hollywood get this movie going, same with the TV execs!

  10. Anthony says:

    *sighs* I'm just saying, in the screwed new 52, they should have left his name alone, as Captain Marvel. NOW "shazam".
    god, i hate that.

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