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.
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.
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
ARTWORK: DC Comics/Warner Premiere