The convoluted history of the name "Captain Marvel" gains another twist with the April release of DC Films' Shazam! However, Producer Peter Safran and Director David Sandberg revealed the use of the character's original name, Captain Marvel, was "never really on the table."
When the character now known as Shazam was first published by Fawcett Comics, only a few years after Superman's debut, his name was Captain Marvel. DC Comics sued Fawcett over what it perceived as too many similarities between Captain Marvel and Superman, eventually forcing the publisher to stop printing his adventures. DC then bought the rights to the Fawcett superheroes but didn't renew the trademark on the hero's name. Cue Marvel Comics, which snapped up the name, so we now have, as UPROXX says, "a movie about a character who can't legally use his own name." With Marvel's Captain Marvel releasing only weeks before Shazam!, the creators decided, "let's just go down the path of Shazam," noting that the name is "more unique" as well.
Rather than see this as a stumbling block, Safran and Sandberg used the name kerfuffle to have a bit of fun: "...we have fun with them trying to come up with a name for him, you know. Captain Sparkle. His name is this, his name is that." But as the interviewer asks, should the film garner a sequel, what does this legal inability to use the Marvel name mean for such characters as Freddy Freeman's Captain Marvel, Jr., and for the rest of the Marvel clan? Safran's responded, "it's a delicate situation that we will clearly have to figure out in a fun manner."
Such legal battles smack of the traditional rivalry between Marvel and DC, though both Safran and Sandberg see this rivalry as, in Safran's words, "bullshit." He went on to say, "that which unites comic fans, is much greater than that which divides us." Sandberg agreed, noting that one of his favorite comics growing up was a crossover between Superman and Spider-Man. Such attitudes might well offer a way for moviegoers to see the Marvel Family one day in a film that uses their proper, original, names.
Directed by David F. Sandberg, Shazam! stars Asher Angel as Billy Batson, Zachary Levi as Shazam, Mark Strong as Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, Djimon Hounsou as the ancient wizard Shazam, Grace Fulton as Mary Bromfield, Jack Dylan Grazer as Frederick “Freddy” Freeman, Ian Chen as Eugene Choi, Jovan Armand as Pedro Peña, Faithe Herman as Darla Dudley, Cooper Andrews as Victor Vásquez and Marta Milans as Rosa Vásquez. The film hits theaters April 5.
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