The naming conventions around New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. Pictures’ upcoming Shazam! never ceases to be fascinating.
Based on the Captain Marvel comic strip created by Bill Parker and C.C Beck in Whiz Comics #2, the character’s name disappeared from comic book covers when DC Comics revived the character — after purchasing the Captain Marvel characters years earlier — in the 1970s. The reason? Marvel Comics discovered the term “Captain Marvel” was out of copyright and created its own Captain Marvel the 1960s. That character will be played by Jude Law in the upcoming Captain Marvel film from Marvel Studios, alongside star Brie Larson who plays the title role.
Inside the pages of DC Comics, the original Captain Marvel retained the use of his name while any and all publicity material, including the covers, referred to him as “Shazam;” the phrase his mortal identity Billy Batson (Asher Angel in the film) uses to become the mightiest mortal. It is also the name of the wizard who gave Billy his powers. But in recent casting reports indicating This is Us‘ Ron Cephas Jones may be in talks to play the wizard Shazam, the character was only referred to as “The Wizard.” Which makes sense as DC’s Captain Marvel officially goes by Shazam these days. And that confusion led to director David F. Sandberg clarifying via Twitter that the wizard will be called “Shazam.”
The wizard is named Shazam in the movie, I just think they’re trying to avoid confusion in news/articles.
— David F. Sandberg (@ponysmasher) January 24, 2018
And I can understand why industry press would want to avoid the confusion. There are two characters named Shazam in a movie based on Captain Marvel, which arrives shortly after a film called Captain Marvel with three characters (and possibly more) answering to that name; all of whom have nothing to do with the original Captain Marvel. Fans can keep it all straight, but industry people may not have the mental bandwidth or time for such minutae.
Or, perhaps, the wizard is the only character referred to as Shazam in the film?
It remains to be seen, of course, and fans should just be happy to know that 2019 is the year of Captain Marvel. All of them.
Shazam! opens on April 5th, 2019.
(h/t: Heroic Hollywood)