This April, the second most powerful DC superhero hits the big screen – Shazam! This big, buff red character is almost as powerful as Superman and has a very similar power set, just that he wields lightning bolts instead of heat vision. In fact, he’s even gone toe-to-toe with the Big Blue Boy Scout in the comics.

But how much do you know about this superhero in DC Comics’ roster? For someone who’s as powerful as he is, he certainly feels quite obscure. We tell you everything you need to know about Shazam – you can’t say you’re a true blue DC fanboy/fangirl until you know these fun facts.

 

1. Shazam used to be known as Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Captain Marvel. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Wait, isn’t Captain Marvel the name of Brie Larson’s character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Didn’t we just have a movie titled Captain Marvel less than a month ago?

You’re absolutely right. So let’s just get the facts straight here – the Brie Larson version of Captain Marvel belongs to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while Shazam belongs to the DC Extended Universe. Different movie universes.

Shazam/Captain Marvel. Credit: mycomicbookshop.com

Shazam/Captain Marvel. Credit: mycomicbookshop.com

However, before 2012, Shazam was known as Captain Marvel. Everything else was the same – he still had to shout “SHAZAM!” to transform and he had that bright red costume with the short white cape. He had an entire supporting cast known as the Marvel Family – consisting of Mary Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr, and Uncle Marvel. However, the title of his comic back in those days was The Power of Shazam! – because DC Comics didn’t have the rights to use “Captain Marvel” for their comic titles.

So when DC Comics went through the umpteenth reboot in 2012, they went “ah heck it” and renamed the character as Shazam. As one of the writers, Geoff Johns, put it –

Everybody thinks he’s called Shazam already

And that’s how Captain Marvel became Shazam.

 

2. Elvis Presley was a huge fan of Captain Marvel Jr (now Shazam Jr)

Elvis & Shazam Jr. Credit: Dave's Comic Heroes Blog

Elvis & Shazam Jr. Credit: Dave’s Comic Heroes Blog

Remember how we talked about the Marvel Family (now known as the Shazam Family) earlier? The younger, smaller, blue version of Captain Marvel was called Captain Marvel Jr (but he goes by Shazam Jr now). Does he look familiar?

He should – because he’s the inspiration for Elvis Presley’s look. You see, Elvis Presley was a huge fan of Captain Marvel Jr and really dug that look, so much so that he even styled his hair and changed his wardrobe to match his idol. You can even see him wearing that signature short cape when he performs on stage.

To pay homage to the King, new interpretations of Shazam Jr often depict him as a fan of Elvis Presley. Aw…

 

3. He couldn’t say his name without transforming in the past

Shazam! Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Shazam! Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

How does Billy Batson transform into Shazam? By saying the word “Shazam!” However, that poses a little problem – how do you introduce yourself (or even keep your secret identity) when saying your name would turn you back into your ordinary self? It wasn’t that much of a problem when his name was Captain Marvel, but it sure became an issue when he started going by Shazam.

Shazam Jr's woes. Credit: CBR

Shazam Jr’s woes. Credit: CBR

In fact, it was also a problem for Captain Marvel Jr – so much so that for a while, he just called himself CM3 (Mary Marvel was CM2) so that he would actually be able to introduce himself without triggering a transformation.

Fortunately, that’s been resolved in the comics – Billy Batson has to actually mean it when he says “Shazam!” in order to transform, otherwise it’s just a word.

 

4. Shazam was the best-selling comic from the 30s to the 40s

A Shazam comic from the Golden Age. Credit: Amazon

A Shazam comic from the Golden Age. Credit: Amazon

Show a picture of Shazam to your grandparents (or great grandparents) and there’s a chance that they might be able to recognise who he is. That’s because during the Golden Age of Comics (the 1930s to 1950), the top comic was Shazam (Captain Marvel), selling 1.4 million copies per issue – a far cry from the circulation rates of today. In fact, the comic was so popular that they even changed it from a monthly comic to a fortnightly comic at one point.

But we bet that the creators never thought that we’d see a Shazam movie one day.

 

5. SHAZAM actually stands for something

The meaning of Shazam. Credit: Twitter

The meaning of Shazam. Credit: Twitter

Well yes, “Shazam” does sound like a nonsense word. But it’s actually an acronym for Shazam’s powers and the mythological figures whom he derives his powers from. This is what each letter of Shazam stands for.

S stands for Solomon. Hence, Shazam has the knowledge and wisdom of Solomon.

H stands for Hercules. Thus, Shazam has the strength of Hercules.

A stands for Atlas, the Titan who holds up the sky. This gives Shazam the stamina and toughness of Atlas.

Z stands for Zeus, who wields lightning. That’s why Shazam can throw lightning bolts and has electricity-based powers.

A stands for Achilles, the greatest warrior in Ancient Greece. As a result, Shazam has exceptional fighting skills.

M stands for Mercury – the messenger of the gods. With the power of Mercury, Shazam can fly and utilise super speed.

Shazam! Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Shazam! Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

With such an impressive suite of powers at his disposal, what could possible challenge Shazam? You’ll find out in Shazam!, which sees Billy Batson becoming the magical superhero Shazam. But dark and primal forces are on the loose – the sins of the past, so to speak – and they want to take the power of Shazam for themselves before Billy can realise his full potential.

However, before Billy can be a bona fide superhero, he must first learn to accept his own identity and discover who his true family is. Even though Shazam! is a fun superhero movie, it’s also a heartwarming story about family, belonging, and acceptance.

Are you ready to catch Shazam! in cinemas?

 

Credits: Golden Village Cinemas, mycomicshop,com, Dave’s Comic Heroes Blog, CBR, Amazon, Twitter

 

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