Throughout the history of both Marvel and DC comics, there have been plenty of heroes who have been similar to each other. However, they usually at least went by different names. In the case of Captain Marvel, both comic book companies had their own character going by that name, but when it came down to the specifics, the two characters were very different from each other. The original Captain Marvel (whose titles were changed to "Shazam" for legal reasons), faced his own legal challenges in the early 1950's when National Comics (now known as DC) sued Fawcett publications for copyright infringement. Captain Marvel was removed from the stories for a long time but re-emerged in the mid-'60s.
At that time, however, Marvel had created their own superhero who went by the name Captain Marvel. A whole new legal battle ensued, and Marvel agreed to let DC keep their hero's name the same, but it could not be used in titles or on the covers of the comics. Marvel's own Captain Marvel ended up having a much more complicated history than DC's, with the mantle of the hero being passed onto several different people, before finally being bestowed upon Carol Danvers (who in her earlier superhero days had gone by the name Ms. Marvel). Both of the characters have their own strengths and weaknesses, and they each have their own dedicated fanbase. However, which one is really the best Captain Marvel at the end of the day? Here are 10 reasons why Shazam is the best Captain Marvel and 10 why it's actually Carol Danvers.
20 DC: GOLDEN AGE CHARM
Honestly, there's something about DC's Captain Marvel that's really kind of wholesome. Maybe it's just the classic superhero look, one that seems to draw on classic hero designs. Think about what a superhero looks like in general, and really the image that would come to mind would be closer to this Captain Marvel than Superman.
DC's Captain Marvel is just a clean cut, all-around good guy who wants to help anyone who is in trouble. He's like Superman without any of the dark ruminations about how he can't save everyone. Captain Marvel is just out there every day, doing his best. He has always been a crusader for good and refuses to waver from that path.
19 MARVEL: A MORE MODERN HERO
Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel may not be from the Golden Age of comic books, but she represents a new wave of superheroes, ones who are imperfect, make mistakes, but still always try to do the right thing. Captain Marvel is not supposed to signify the past, but rather the future and what kind of superheroes might come later.
Captain Marvel represents a hero who has faced defeat, who has had setbacks and still strives to move forward. She might not always get things right, but she knows that her immense power should be used to save people in need. She's a different kind of superhero, one that might just fit the modern narrative more than DC's Captain Marvel ever could.
18 DC: A SIMPLE BACKSTORY
There are plenty of heroes out there with a complicated backstory, one that new readers can't exactly jump into without knowing a lot of facts about the universe as it is. DC's Captain Marvel, though, has a backstory that is actually fairly straightforward. Billy Batson, a 14-year-old boy is granted the power to turn into a hero by saying the word "Shazam."
There's not really much to know beyond that. There are some of the more mythological pinnings of Captain Marvel's origin (we'll get to those further on in the list), but otherwise, it's a fairly simple origin that anyone can get in basically just a paragraph of backstory.
17 MARVEL: A COMPLEX BACKSTORY
The story of how Carol Danvers came to be the newest Captain Marvel is a little bit more involved than the story in Shazam, and requires at least a little bit of knowledge on the existing Marvel Universe. However, is that really such a bad thing? There are plenty of heroes already whose story is straightforward enough that having a hero with a more complicated backstory is actually kind of refreshing.
Carol Danvers started off as a character that often played a damsel in distress for the original Captain Marvel, but after an accident involving military equipment, she gained some of his powers, becoming the hero Ms. Marvel. Over the years, Danvers would continue to fight under that mantle, until Captain Marvel sacrificed himself to save her one last time, and she took on the name to honor him.
16 DC: LIMITED POWER SET
DC's Captain Marvel is a pretty powerful guy, and he can hold his own against most supervillains. His set of superpowers is based on his mythological origins, and it is really easy to define his power set without getting too complicated. He has a few weaknesses, but if anyone asks what his superpowers are you can list them off pretty easily.
DC's Captain Marvel is super strong. He also has superhuman stamina and will, which allows him to fight for long periods of time. In older stories, the character could leap great distances but later was given the ability of flight, in addition to superspeed. He is also able to harness and control electricity. He also has innate wisdom, with the ability to understand different languages.
15 MARVEL: A LOT OF INTERESTING POWERS
Carol Danvers has plenty of superpowers, and many of them are a lot more complicated than what the average superhero is dealing with. Most of these powers stem from her main ability to absorb energy from any nearby source. This ability allows her to fire photon beams from her hands, manipulate gravity, and even change the molecular structure of matter.
On top of those abilities, Danvers is super strong, has the ability to fly at six times the speed of sound, and is able to travel through space. Out of all her abilities, the one that might be the most important is her cosmic awareness, which allows her to tap into everything within the universe, giving her a sense of everything that is going on literally anywhere.
14 DC: BUILT-IN CATCHPHRASE
There are plenty of ways for people to identify their favorite superheroes. There are the colorful costumes, the superpowers, and sometimes even the familiar villains that the heroes go up against. However, there is one thing that can quickly form an association with a superhero, much the same way it can with any product (as any good advertising executive knows).
That is the simple catchphrase, and for DC's Captain Marvel, it's built right into his entire identity. When Billy Batson needs to change into Captain Marvel in order to fight the bad guys, he shouts "Shazam!" This phrase is so popular it became the name of a popular song recognition app. It's one of those little things that makes the hero that much more appealing.
13 MARVEL: THE TITLE HAS BEEN HELD BY MANY PEOPLE
As we mentioned above, the history of Captain Marvel has been long and complicated, and the title has actually been held by many different people along the way. The original Captain Marvel in the Marvel Universe was an alien named Mar-Vell, a Kree warrior who decided to become a protector of Earth.
After Mar-Vell's passing, the mantle of Captain Marvel was passed to Monica Rambeau, who eventually changed her superhero name to Spectrum. The name was then taken by several different aliens, including Genis-Vell, Phyla-Vell, and Khn'nr. The mantle was finally taken up by Carol Danvers, who has used her powers to explore her own past.
12 DC: OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHARACTER GROWTH
Captain Marvel in DC comics may appear as an adult man, but on the inside, he is still just a kid named Billy Batson. That means that over time, he has to learn how to use his powers properly. At first, being a superhero just seems like a lot of fun to him because he is so powerful. However, Billy soon learns that being a superhero comes with a lot of responsibility.
That means that almost any incarnation of Captain Marvel in the DC universe always has some room for character growth. In almost any incarnation, he can have the mind of a teenage boy, learning how to navigate the ups and downs of being a hero, and learning that things might not always go his way, no matter how strong he is.
11 CAPTAIN MARVEL: STANDS OUT FROM OTHER HEROES
Carol Danvers stands out from the other heroes in the Marvel Universe simply because she is just so powerful. Beyond that, she also has a unique personality and due to memory loss, she has spent a certain amount of time trying to remember her past and who she is.
That alone sets her apart from many of the heroes in the Marvel Universe. These are people who already know who they are. They have had their moments of introspection to look inside of themselves and discover who they really are. Captain Marvel, on the other hand, has had to find those things out on her own, using the powers she was granted by Mar-Vell.
10 DC: A MORE INTERESTING VILLAIN
Every hero needs a great villain to battle, and there have been plenty of great ones in both DC and Marvel. However, out of the two Captain Marvels in this article, it's DC's who has the more interesting villain in Black Adam. Black Adam is sort of like the negative version of DC's Captain Marvel, similar to Reverse-Flash or Bizarro Superman.
Black Adam possesses the same powers as Captain Marvel and is also responsible for the loss of both of Billy Batson's parents. He is the reincarnation of an ancient Egyptian warrior whom the wizard Shazam had chosen to be a champion. However, that warrior (also named Adam) had his powers stripped from him after he betrayed the pharaoh.
9 MARVEL: INVOLVED IN A LOT OF POPULAR STORIES
Carol Danvers is finally being introduced to the MCU this year, but she has already been a huge fixture in the world of Marvel comics. She has been essential to several major storylines since she took up the mantle of Captain Marvel in 2012, and she will most likely continue to be a central part of the Marvel Universe.
One of the major storylines to feature Captain Marvel as a significant character was "Secret Wars," which found Carol playing a major role in the fights taking place on Battleworld. She was also a key figure in the "Civil War II" storyline, in which she fought to arrest people who had predicted as committing future crimes by the inhuman Ulysses Cain.
8 DC: A MORE HUMOROUS PERSONA
DC's Captain Marvel has always been one of the more lighthearted superheroes in the comic book universe. A lot of that has to do with the fact that he's really just a kid in an adult's body, living out the fantasy of being a superhero. However, that's kind of a refreshing take on being a hero, one that is not often seen in comics or superhero films.
Being a superhero is often viewed as being at best a responsibility, and at worst, an obligation. Billy Batson doesn't necessarily look at being a hero that way, though. He sees it as being able to take on the bad guys and save the world, and that is something that makes him happy. It's not just something he has to do, but something he wants to do.
7 MARVEL: DEEPLY TIED TO THE MARVEL UNIVERSE
As Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers possesses a power of cosmic awareness. This is gained from her ability to absorb energy from all around her. The process also taps her into every molecule of the universe, letting her know what is going on in almost any corner of the universe at any time.
That means that Carol is really tapped into the Marvel Universe as a whole. She knows everything that is going on Earth, as well as what might be going on with the Guardians of the Galaxy in the far reaches of space. This allows her to be in touch with all of the goings-on of the Marvel Universe. No matter where she is, Carol knows what's up.
6 DC: THE ORIGINAL "CAPTAIN MARVEL"
Trying to make the argument that whatever came first is best is bound to lose arguments for almost anyone. That being said, however, the Captain Marvel of the DC Universe was actually the first superhero to wear the mantle. However, due to some protracted legal battles, he eventually came to be known as the "other" Captain Marvel.
What happened was that Captain Marvel stories were being published by Fawcett Publications, which was sued by NationalComics (which would later become DC) for copyright infringement. National claimed that Captain Marvel infringed on Superman, so he was not featured in stories again until 1972, five years after Marvel created their own Captain Marvel.
5 MARVEL: MORE CLOSELY ASSOCIATED WITH THE NAME
When people hear the name "Captain Marvel," their instinct is to go toward the Marvel character -- after all, it is right there in the title. With the new MCU film on the way, the character will have even more name recognition, thus leaving DC's character to utilize the name Shazam more frequently, despite the fact that is not his official hero name.
Carol Danvers, along with Mar-Vell, Monica Rambeau, and all of the other aliens who have acted as Captain Marvel, made the name their own. The title might have been held by many different people, but the fact of the matter is that Marvel's Captain Marvel will be the one that people think about when they hear it.
4 DC: STORY TIED TO MYTHOLOGY
Marvel loves to give its characters scientific or cosmic superpowers. Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, in particular, had a thing for creating heroes that gained their powers from science experiments or space travel (see Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four). DC's Captain Marvel, on the other hand, goes in the opposite direction.
Billy Batson gained his powers from an ancient wizard named Shazam. Even though the word is fun to say and sounds like an exclamation someone makes after making a free throw, it is actually an acronym (standing for Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury). Each of these ancient mythological figures grants Captain Marvel his powers.
3 MARVEL: STORY TIED TO SCIENCE FICTION
Carol Danvers' story as Captain Marvel, as mentioned above, has much more to do with aliens, cosmic forces, and science fiction elements than anything else. This was pretty par for the course when it came to how Marvel originated many of its heroes, particularly in the mid-'60s.
Carol was given her powers after a military accident occurred involving her and the original Captain Marvel. From there, her story continued to expand, drawing from even more corners of the Marvel cosmic universe, until Carol herself became a figure of both earthbound and cosmic Marvel storylines.
2 SHAZAM: MIGHT CONTINUE TO SPRUCE UP THE DCEU
If there's one thing DC's Captain Marvel may be capable of, it's continuing the transformation of the DCEU from a dour, grim affair to one that is more fun and exciting. Shazam might be the next film (after the successful Aquaman) to continue the trend of making the DCEU more attractive to moviegoers again.
The film stars Zachary Levi in the lead role, and if the early trailers are any indication, this film is going to be aiming for a much more lighthearted tone than previous DCEU films. It might even manage to get people to admit that DC characters can actually be a lot of fun in the right hands.
1 CAPTAIN MARVEL: BRINGS A FRESH FACE TO THE MCU
Since there have been so many Marvel movies coming out recently, people might have forgotten what it's like to have a new hero showing up in the universe. After all, it's been a full three years since Captain America: Civil War introduced Black Panther and the newest incarnation of Spider-Man to the MCU.
That means that Captain Marvel will be the first MCU film in a long time to be giving the world a completely fresh and new character. It will be exciting to see how people react to Carol Danvers, and how big of a role she plays in the upcoming, highly anticipated Avengers: Endgame.