Saturday, February 04, 2006

"Captain Marvel" Going Through Some Big Changes

New Line Cinema is hiring screenwriting team Joel Cohen/Alec Sokolow ("Toy Story") to write the screenplay for the upcoming film version of DC's "SHAZAM".

Created in 1940, by artist CC Beck and writer Bill Parker for comic book publishers Fawcett Publications, the premise of 'Captain Marvel' centered on 'homeless young newspaper seller Billy Batson', suddenly confronted by a mysterious stranger who leads him into the New York subway system, where a 'strange' train appears and carries them both to the lair of the wizard 'Shazam'.

The wizard reveals that Billy has been chosen to be 'the world's mightest mortal' and commands the boy to say his name 'SHAZAM', an acronym for mythological/historical figures : 'S' for Solomon (wisdom), 'H' for Hercules (strength), 'A' for Atlas (stamina), 'Z' for Zeus (invulnerability), 'A' for Achilles (courage) and 'M' for Mercury (the ability to fly).

Saying the name, Billy is struck by a lightning bolt that transforms him into an adult superhero. Saying the name again turns him back into Billy Batson.

Having passed on his 'blessing', the wizard dies and Billy vows to fulfill his destiny.

He confides in his sister 'Mary Batson' who becomes 'Mary Marvel', a disabled friend 'Freddie Freeman' becomes 'Captain Marvel Jr.' and Billy's 3 cousins, saying "SHAZAM" simultaneously change into 'Lieutenant Marvels'.

Throughout the war years, "Captain Marvel" was an easily accessible comic book fantasy and a popular 15-part feature film serial, starring stunt man/western star Tom Tyler. The comic book itself began outselling industry leader "Superman", published by National Periodicals (DC). DC sued Fawcett for plagiarism, stating similiarities between the two characters. After years of litigation, Fawcett went into receivership and DC was awarded the Captain Marvel catalogue, reviving the character in the early 1970s. Because of a similarity in names to rival comics giant 'Marvel', the character's adventures were published under the "SHAZAM" title (Marvel since creating their own 'Captain Mar-vell' character.)

DC eventually introduced the entire Fawcett line of characters in their 1980's comic book mini-series "Crisis on Infinite Earths", fully integrating "SHAZAM" into the DC Universe ...