Captain Marvel, also known as Shazam, is a fictional superhero appearing in DC Comics. Artist C. C. Beck and writer Bill Parker created the character in 1939. Captain Marvel first appeared in Whiz Comics #2 (cover-dated Feb. 1940), published by Fawcett Comics. He is the alter ego of Billy Batson, a boy who, by speaking the magic word “SHAZAM” (acronym of six “immortal elders”: Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury), can transform himself into a costumed adult with the powers of superhuman strength, speed, flight and other abilities.
Based on book sales, the character was the most popular superhero of the 1940s, outselling even Superman. Fawcett expanded the franchise to include other “Marvels”, primarily Marvel Family associates Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr., who can harness Billy’s powers as well. Captain Marvel was also the first comic book superhero to be adapted into film, in a 1941 Republic Pictures serial titled Adventures of Captain Marvel.
Fawcett ceased publishing Captain Marvel-related comics in 1953, partly because of a copyright infringement suit from DC Comics, alleging that Captain Marvel was a copy of Superman. In 1972, DC licensed the Marvel Family characters from Fawcett, and returned them to publication. By 1991, DC had acquired all rights to the characters. DC has since integrated Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family into their DC Universe and has attempted to revive the property several times, with mixed success. Due to trademark conflicts over another character named “Captain Marvel” owned by Marvel Comics, DC has branded and marketed the character using the trademark Shazam! since his 1972 reintroduction. This, in turn, led many to assume that “Shazam” was the character’s name. DC later officially renamed the character “Shazam” – and his associates the “Shazam Family” – when relaunching its comic book properties in 2011. Captain Marvel/Shazam and his family battle an extensive rogues’ gallery, primarily archenemies Dr. Sivana and Black Adam.
The character has been featured in two television series adaptations, one live action and one animated, by Filmation, and an upcoming New Line Cinema/Warner Bros. Shazam! feature film scheduled for release in 2019 as part of the DC Extended Universe, with Zachary Levi and Asher Angel portraying the title role.