(Check out the full article on THE BIRTH OF THE COMIC BOOK MOVIE)
In 1941, at the height of World War II, heroes which we had only seen in the pages of the early renditions of the comics began to make their way to the big screen. Movie serials had been a going thing since the very first film with heroes like Tarzan gracing the big screen. Most of that, of course, stemmed from the flood of pulp fiction heroes. But, in 1938, the superheroes began to grace the comic covers where the pulp heroes and funny paper favorites had ruled the roost. Superman debuted from a scrapped story by Siegel and Shuster and the rest, they say, is history.
But, if you think the first actual movie superhero was Superman, you'd be mistaken. Because of negotiation problems between Republic Pictures and National Comics (later DC Comics), there were several failed attempts to get the big blue boy-scout on the big screen. While they were stalling, comic competition, Fawcett Comics, beat them to the punch with the first ever comic book movie, Captain Marvel. A character later bought by DC and re packaged recently as SHAZAM!, Captain Marvel told the story of the young Billy Batson who just by saying the word, SHAZAM, became the full grown superhero, Captain Marvel. It would be a whole seven more years before Superman could be seen in theaters. And he would be beaten to the punch also by The Shadow (1940), Mysterious Doctor Satan (1940), The Green Hornet (1940), Batman (1943), The Masked Marvel (1943) and Captain America (1944). Green Hornet and Zorro also had sequels during this wait.
National then attempted legal action to prevent the project, citing Republic's failure at adapting a similar Superman serial. Their attempt was unsuccessful, however, and Captain Marvel went into production. Writing in his autobiography of the period, William Witney revealed that in his deposition he had claimed that both Superman and Captain Marvel were derivatives of Popeye.