He was a member of the Justice League on the Justice League Unlimited and Young Justice animated TV series. He was a founding member of the Justice League on the animated movies Justice League War and Justice League: Throne of Atlantis. He is also going to star in his own live action movie, with notable star Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson as Black Adam.
Yet there are many things unknown about the Earth's mightiest mortal, a.k.a. Billy Batson, a young orphan boy with the power of 6 characters based on Greek Mythology (Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, Mercury) on the tip of his tongue.
So let's dive into 10 facts you might not know about Shazam!
10. He is not an original DC character
Shazam has appeared in many media forms including an appearance on the Justice League Unlimited animated TV series, the Young Justice animated TV series, animated movies like Justice League War, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis and Flashpoint Paradox. He is the first superhero to get a live action adaptation in 1941 and is about to star in his own live action movie.
Bearing this in mind, it would be hard to imagine that this DCU superhero, was not created by DC.
And yet, somewhere in the year of 1940 a different comic book company called Fawcett comics, introduced Shazam as Captain Marvel, in Whiz Comics #2 and after great success, continued to publish his comics under the title, 'Captain Marvel Adventures' until 1950.
9. He was more famous than Superman
After his debut in Whiz Comics in February 1940, Shazam (then known as Captain Marvel) saw his success skyrocket. His backstory and secret identity of a young boy, was more relatable to children during the WWII and its aftermath periods, and his heroic yet childish nature, mirrored the needs of that era. These advantages helped Shazam become the highest selling comic of his time, making Fawcett Comics reach comics publications of 10 million copies a month, which number seemed astronomical for the comic book industry during that time. Of course all of those didn't last for long.
8. He is one of the most legally controversial characters in comics
Captain Marvel's popularity and him outshining Superman didn't sit well with DC comics (known as National comics during that time). In order to counteract this, DC opted to legally challenge Fawcett comics. DC comics accused Fawcett of copyrights infringement, claiming that Captain Marvel was a blatant copy of Superman demanding Fawcett to cease all Captain Marvel publications. After a legal process that took years to complete, Fawcett had to resign publications of Captain Marvel and eventually dissolved. This led to the character eventually finding his way into DC in the 1970s, at which point DC rebranded and republished him.
Captain Marvel's legal adventures didn't stop there though as during the period between Fawcett dissolution and his rebranding, the publishing rights for the name of 'Captain Marvel' were left unoccupied. This prompted a then new company, Marvel Comics, to release their own superhero with the same name of Captain Marvel and trademarking the name for themselves. Which in turn led to a small legal skirmish after which DC had to settle with the use of the name but unable to market it, forcing them to change the title of the Captain Marvel comic books into Shazam.
7. He changed his name, a lot
Reading this article, you have by now noticed that the names Captain Marvel and Shazam are quite interchangeable, both for me and for DC. But these two are not his only names. Before his introduction in Whiz Comics #2, Shazam's creators considered naming him Captain Thunder but decided otherwise, to avoid sounding menacing to younger audiences. The name came back during the Flashpoint paradox storyline where Captain Marvel's Flashpoint version was called Captain Thunder.
So to recap, he started off as Captain Thunder, then Captain Marvel, then Captain Thunder again and finally he was called Shazam.
6. His powers are based on wrong deities
Most people already know that, but the word Shazam is actually an acronym. The word is used to call upon the powers of 6 Greek deities and it stands for wisdom of Solomon, strength of Hercules, stamina of Atlas, power of Zeus, courage of Achilles and Speed of Mercury. Ironically only Zeus is an actual Greek God. Solomon was a Hebrew king of Jerusalem, Hercules was a demigod, Atlas was a titan, Achilles was a demigod too, and Mercury is the Roman equivalent of Hermes. DC seems to have realized that mistake, opting to calling them Greek heroes instead, that still is inaccurate though.
5. He has the strangest of Nemeses
Ever thought that Calendarman or Egg Fu are "strange looking"? (If you don't know them, look them up) Well they got nothing on this guy's supervillians. While Black Adam seems pretty normal, reverses of the main character are after all often their biggest supervillians, but the rest of them are a little strange.
Some of Captain Marvel's biggest supervillains include, Doctor Sivana, an eccentric epitome of a mad scientist, a telepathic space worm called mister Mind and a Nazi super soldier, created by a super soldier experiment called... Captain Nazi... who's power is fueled by Nazi idealism.
To throw some salt on a wound, he also regularly fights the 7 deadly sins of man, who are themselves some messed up concepts.
4. He transforms into his father's image
Ever wondered, what exactly Billy is transforming into when he says Shazam? Usually people think that Billy transforms into an older version of himself, or a younger version of the Wizard who granted him his power. The truth is much darker. Billy transforms into his deceased father, an archaeologist that along his mother was killed by Teth Adam (Black Adam's secret identity). It is implied that he is recreated through Billy's fleeting memory of his father.
3. It is implied he is a glutton
In many instances in DC comics, Billy Batson in either form is seen to eat a lot of food. Whether he is on the JL cafeteria or somewhere else he always seem to eat as much food as he can. Usually this is explained by, him being an orphan, is malnourished and always starving. Yet the biggest hint DC left for us about Shazam's sin, is the image above, which shows the 7 deadly sins represented with the worst quality of each superhero of the Justice League. As noted by Zatanna, these are representations of their inner spirits and souls.
2. He has the biggest family, second only to the Bat Family
In his debut comic in the New 52, when he was given his powers, the Wizard gave him a very strong tip, his greatest power is his family. In the same comic Billy gave his powers to his adoptive siblings creating the concept of the Shazam family. The family includes five people and a spirit animal, excluding Shazam himself. These five are, Mary Batson, Freddy Freeman, Eugene Choi, Pedro Pena and Darla Dudley, while their spirit animal is a tiger named Tawny.
1. He had his deities changed
During the latest Darkseid War Justice League event, Billy Batson lost his powers for a moment, which had something to do with him *spoilers* getting stabbed through his chest with a giant sword and Darkseid being killed off.
To compensate, a Wizard sought and imbued Billy with the powers of 6 of the Gods of old with more primal and destructive powers, making him potentially one of the strongest beings in the DC Universe right now. The new powers and their corresponding deities are the Strength of S'ivaa, the Fires of H'Ronmeer, the Compassion of Anapel, the Source manipulation of Zonuz, Father of Darkseid, the Boldness of Ate and the Lightning of Mamaragan, the wizard who gave Billy his powers.
This is a series of articles about underrated DC superheroes, if you wanna know more about Aquaman click here.
if you wanna know more about the Martian Manhunter click here.
Which underrated Superhero would you like me to write about next?