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Shazam! Vs. Captain Marvel: The Bizarre Battle Over a Name

Sure enough, DC Comics worked out a deal with Fawcett to license its superhero characters for a new line of comic books starring Captain Marvel and his Marvel Family. Again, since copyright is different than trademark, DC could call the characters Captain Marvel inside the comic, but on the cover, DC had to come up with another name for the books.

They came up with Shazam!, the magic word that Billy Batson said to turn into Captain Marvel...

Initially, DC also included a small mention of Captain Marvel's name on the tittle, as well, until Marvel told DC to cut it out and so the company dropped all mentions of Captain Marvel on the cover.

RELATED: The Reason for Shazam!'s Exclamation Point, Revealed

The only problem for Marvel, though, is that since the way that trademark works is that it must be used in trade/commerce, Marvel had to continue to publish Captain Marvel comic books or else it could risk abandoning the mark itself.

So the alien, Mar-Vell, got his own comic book in 1968...

It did not sell that well, so it was revamped by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane (amusingly, Thomas brought Rick Jones into the book and had him switch places with Captain Marvel when they clanged special Nega Bands, in an homage to the original Billy Batson/Captain Marvel dynamic)...

And then revamped again by Jim Starlin...

Marvel ultimately decided to kill Mar-Vell and then replace him with a new female Captain Marvel...

She, in turn, was replaced by Genis-Vell, the son of Mar-Vell...

He, too, got a revamp during Avengers Forever in 1999...

Finally, in 2012, Mar-Vell's old supporting cast member, Carol Danvers, who had become the superhero known as Ms. Marvel...

took over as Captain Marvel...

Meanwhile, over at DC Comics, the company eventually purchased Fawcett Comics' characters outright in 1991. DC was still stuck with titles that just used Shazam, like Power of Shazam...

One of the biggest problems with the trademark issue is the outside licensing. For instance, action figures of Captain Marvel can't be called Captain Marvel because of the trademark issue, so they have to be called Shazam...

Ultimately, DC just decided that it was better to simply embrace the trademark that it did have, Shazam, and in 2012's Justice League #0, Captain Marvel's origin was officially rebooted so that he was now always known as Shazam...

That brings us to today, where Marvel has its Captain Marvel movie coming out...

and DC has its Shazam! movie...

Eventually, most fans will only known the hero formerly known as Captain Marvel as Shazam. It's a bit of a shame, but that's how the intellectual property rights fell.

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