Captain Marvel will finally be making his debut in DC’s New 52 universe this month, but not without some changes. For one, he’ll now be referred to as Shazam instead of Captain Marvel.
DC hasn’t been able to use the name Captain Marvel to promote the character since they revived him in the early-70s because the copyright on “Captain Marvel”, originally owned by Fawcett Comics, was allowed to lapse in the 60s, which opened the door for Marvel to jump on the name. Marvel created their own (not particularly memorable) Captain Marvel and have sat on the name ever since, forcing DC to title all their Captain Marvel books “Shazam!” after the word Captain Marvel shouts to activate his powers.
This created the confusing situation of a character named Marvel, being published by DC in books titled Shazam. The name change should clear up some confusion, and yet, it’s kind of a lame surrender by DC.
Still, maybe it’s for the best that this character is no longer called Captain Marvel — looking at the new promotional image released by DC, it seems this new Shazam character won’t have much in common with classic Captain Marvel. The original Captain Marvel was the ultimate clean-cut good guy. He made Superman look like Wolverine by comparison. His books were light-hearted, goofy and generally focused on being fun first and foremost. Hell, he hung out with a talking suit-wearing tiger named Tawky Tawny.
Doesn’t look like there’s going to be any room for chilling with Tawky Tawny anymore. Nope, this Shazam guy is a shadowy, hooded, grimacing figure about to kill somebody with electricity in a dingy alley! Rad! He’s like a super powered Batman, because, you know, everyone has to be Batman now. Who knew being a superhero made people so darn cranky?