A lot has already been said about Geoff Johns announcement that DC is changing Captain Marvel’s name to Shazam.

But, we like to draw things out…

Captain Marvel is a fictional comic book superhero, originally published by Fawcett Comics and later by DC Comics. Created in 1939 by artist C. C. Beck and writer Bill Parker, the character first appeared in Whiz Comics #2 (February 1940). With a premise that taps adolescent fantasy, Captain Marvel is the alter ego of Billy Batson, a youth who works as a radio news reporter and was chosen to be a champion of good by the wizard Shazam.

Hailed as “The World’s Mightiest Mortal” in his adventures, Captain Marvel was nicknamed “The Big Red Cheese” by arch-villain Doctor Sivana, an epithet later adopted by Captain Marvel’s fans. Based on sales, Captain Marvel was the most popular superhero of the 1940s, as his Captain Marvel Adventures comic book series sold more copies than Superman and other competing superhero books during the mid-1940s.

Fawcett ceased publishing Captain Marvel-related comics in 1953, due in part to a copyright infringement suit from DC Comics alleging that Captain Marvel was an illegal infringement of Superman. In 1972, DC licensed the Marvel Family characters and returned them to publication, acquiring all rights to the characters by 1991.

Because Marvel Comics trademarked their Captain Marvel comic book during the interim between the original Captain Marvel’s Fawcett years and DC years, DC Comics is unable to promote and market their Captain Marvel/Marvel Family properties under that name. Since 1972, DC has instead used the trademark Shazam! as the title of their comic books and thus the name under which they market and promote the character. Consequently, Captain Marvel himself is frequently erroneously referred to as “Shazam”.


What are your thoughts on the Captain Marvel/Shazam name change?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...


The Author

Robot Overlord

Robot Overlord

Warning: Pregnant women, the elderly, and children under 10 should avoid prolonged exposure to the Robot Overlord. Robot Overlord may suddenly accelerate to dangerous speeds. The Robot Overlord contains a liquid core, which if exposed due to rupture, should not be touched, inhaled, or looked at. If Robot Overlord begins to smoke, get away immediately. Seek shelter and cover head. Do not taunt the Robot Overlord.

Previous post

SOLICITATION: Bluewater Productions to chronicle history of SNL

Next post

TEASER: Ends of the Earth


  1. Coby S
    January 31, 2012 at 3:04 pm — Reply

    I didn’t vote because I don’t think it matters if he is called either. It does bother me that they wont stick with one though. It’s confusing to the readers if a characters name flip flops around.

  2. Michael
    January 31, 2012 at 3:13 pm — Reply

    Maybe not the WORST MOVE EVAH~! but that was the closest option.

  3. David L
    January 31, 2012 at 3:14 pm — Reply

    It only matters because any little bit they can do to not refer to their main rival is probably a good thing.
    Having the word MARVEL in big bold letters might send a subliminal message they want to avoid (or so their thinking may go).

  4. Xaxelbrax
    January 31, 2012 at 3:14 pm — Reply

    Dump them both and bring in Captain Thunder from flashpoint!

    • BlueBeetle
      January 31, 2012 at 4:40 pm — Reply

      I would be interested in that title.

    • Grimmhelm
      February 1, 2012 at 6:04 am — Reply

      agreed! hells, even bring back that whole group would make it interesting for a few dozen issues

  5. January 31, 2012 at 3:20 pm — Reply

    Having no emotional attachment to the Captain Marvel/Shazam property, and my only knowledge of said property coming from this page, I can see why DC made this move. As the wiki excerpt suggests, having a title name that differs from the main character could be problematic for incoming new readers, throw in Marvel’s trademark and this move makes sense. But I know that comics can become a very personal experience, so I know this move will also offend fans of the property.

  6. Mighty Mack
    January 31, 2012 at 3:23 pm — Reply

    “Worst. Move. Everrr.” is a little strong, but I do feel that it’s a foolish move. How will he tell people who he is without getting lightning’d? It’s the same problem Captain Marvel Jr. has had since forever, and one of the reasons he was a difficult character to write for: how do you have a character who can’t introduce themselves?

    • LemmyCaution
      January 31, 2012 at 3:57 pm — Reply

      Just change things so that saying “Shazam” isn’t enough to cause the change. He also has to want to change at the same time. Then he can say it whenever he wants. Problem solved.

  7. January 31, 2012 at 3:28 pm — Reply

    This is a great move. First of all I still think most people think of him as Shazam anyway. I certainly did until I joined the Nerd Illuminutti. (Heh) The fact that Shazam is unique and immediately identifiable. Being Captain marvel keeps making me think of a Disco black lady with ridiculous level powers she never uses properly.

  8. January 31, 2012 at 3:39 pm — Reply

    In the end, the name rights battle between DC & Marvel would destroy one or both characters. Better this way for DC; who took the “high road” and just made the change, they can now just focus on creating great stories for the Shazam franchise.

  9. January 31, 2012 at 3:47 pm — Reply

    I see the benefit in changing the name. The name Captain Marvel has/could cause confusion. However, I’ll wait and see if it has any effect on the quality of the stories…

  10. January 31, 2012 at 3:51 pm — Reply

    I say call him both. Shazam can be his name and Captain Marvel a nickname like Dark Knight for that other guy. Besides, it’s not as much fun saying “Captain Marvel” in a Gomer Pyle voice.


  11. January 31, 2012 at 4:07 pm — Reply

    I know the die-hard fans always will prefer “Captain Marvel” to “Shazam”.
    But let’s face it, Captain Marvel is a pretty generic name. And people have a greater fondness for Shazam because it entered mainstream culture and all that.

    And if it can prevent another round of pointless litigation, I’m all for it.

  12. Samuel
    January 31, 2012 at 4:09 pm — Reply

    I thought his name was Shazam this whole time.

  13. Drew
    January 31, 2012 at 5:13 pm — Reply

    All Hail the power of acronyms!

    I guess this kills my hope that Fawcett City is really on the Kree Homeworld…

  14. JKMD
    January 31, 2012 at 6:22 pm — Reply

    I guess DC decided against “Lightning Bolt Guy”? ‘Cause I thought it was pretty descriptive…

  15. January 31, 2012 at 6:31 pm — Reply

    DC lost the name, Marvel snatched it up. I’m sorry but I’m glad that DC is admitting it and they are moving forward.

    In the end, the name change just seems like DC wants to move on and be done with it. I’m glad that DC is taking a step that (some) fans will immediately reject but will be better in the long term. Isn’t that one of the main points of the new 52? Moving forward?

  16. Oldcomicfan
    January 31, 2012 at 6:47 pm — Reply

    Whenever any one of the Marvels shouts out “Shazam” I look around for Gomer Pyle. At least they didn’t kick Cappy out of the comic and name it after Mr. Tawney the Talking Tiger.

  17. Moppen
    January 31, 2012 at 7:14 pm — Reply

    I think it’s a great idea, as a newer comics fan, I always thought of him as Shazam, and when ever I talk to people who are not into comics, they always think that Shazam is the characters name, and have no idea that his real name is Captain Marvel. Let him have the name that most people know him as.

  18. Andrew O.
    January 31, 2012 at 8:56 pm — Reply

    I wish they would’ve at least kept the Captain in there somewhere. In the old JL cartoon, they just called him Captain which I thought was pretty cool. Simply using Shazam sounds like something a 4 year old would use (no offense to 4 year olds).

  19. Michael
    January 31, 2012 at 9:17 pm — Reply

    Since they’ve revived My Greatest Adventure why can’t they put Captain Marvel in that? Or a re-revived Adventure Comics?

  20. Xian
    January 31, 2012 at 11:09 pm — Reply

    Good move.

    The spectrum of protectable Trademarks runs from weak to strong, starting with the unprotectable Generic (“apple” for fruit), then descriptive (“red” or “juicy”), next suggestive (“Sugar Snap”), and arbitrary (“Apple” for computers), with fanciful (“Xanth” – no inherent or suggested meaning) being the strongest. “Captain Marvel” almost borders on generic as Marvel’s NEXTWAVE by Ellis mocked. One of the reasons the mark was so easy to “steal” with disuse is because the mark is so weak (Trademarks, unlike Copyrights, need to be used to be defended, but disuse is only one aspect of a multi-factor test on whether there’s infringement… a stronger and more distinctive mark is less likely to be “stolen” even through disuse; example: Even when Coca-Cola went through their “New Coke” phase, Pepsi wouldn’t be permitted to come along and use the Coca-Cola mark and scroll just on disuse alone).

    The point being, Shazam is a strong, completely fanciful mark that is easily defended and held on to and protected. The concept, obviously, isn’t protectable considering how many flying bricks are out there- not to mention rip-offs, tributes, and homages- like Icon’s Superior… the name wasn’t protectable so it got swiped… and so you’re working with less and less bankable IP. With comics characters, they’re practically a name first, a T-Shirt logo second, a general cartoon / movie / comic visual rendering third… and somewhere in the distance they’re a character with story, personality, history, etc. (in other words, if you rip-off Superman’s origin, that’s not protectable… if your supporting cast, back history, etc. all run parallel, you still don’t have a case… the thing you can protect, sell, and license is the shield, name, and look- or trade-dress- of the character). That’s why you have franchise reboots on Batman and Spidey rather than just using entirely new characters… because the name/mark trumps costume redesigns or story tweaks and despite all the changes the value is added to the name.

    So while losing “Captain Marvel” is a knock against historical nomenclature, it also solidifies “Shazam” as an IP that can actually grow again because all the non-protectable items (powerset, general story, etc) can tie themselves to the protectable trademark. It’s not worth investing value into “Captain Marvel” if Mark Millar is just going to come along and adapt it to film as his own original property and take the profit… but you put that into “Shazam” and you can build your case you’re being ripped-off (even though TMs and copyrights are separate… with fictional characters the courts often end up mixing doctrines, but it only works if you’ve got a strong mark like, say, Mickey Mouse).

    So it might just be a name, but it’s one that can actually make DC more comfortable giving Shazam center stage more often.

    Interestingly… part of the strength of the mark is that everyone knows it and it’s entered the lexicon (see below)… but that might force DC to start policing people’s usage in order to fight genericism (in other words, Marks are meant to be brand signifier / providing insight into source… but if the public so overuses a word so as to diminish that purpose, the court may say the right to a mark is lost as the public has claimed it as their own), this is why you see ad campaigns asking you to not use words like Xerox or Google as verbs, etc… all that said, I don’t think Shazam is THAT valuable a mark that it’ll matter.


    exclamation /SHəˈzam/

    Used to introduce an extraordinary deed, story, or transformation
    – She prayed for his arrival and shazam! There he was.

    • Xian
      January 31, 2012 at 11:33 pm — Reply

      I should hasten to add (if it sounds like I’m knocking Millar), I liked Superior for what it was and don’t really begrudge Mark Millar for his puffery… Stan’s books all have such puffery in their titles like Amazing, Incredible, Fantastic, Uncanny, and so on. At the end of the day Millar loves comics and despite making money, he’s using it to continue to make comics… it’s his chosen medium… he hasn’t taken the money and run off to become a screenplay writer or producer seeing comics as nothing but a stepping stone towards getting his films made. And if we ever broke into comics and found success could we say we wouldn’t?

  21. January 31, 2012 at 11:12 pm — Reply

    It’s hard to actually call it “the worst move ever,” but I’m not a fan of it from the offset. I’ve always like Captain Marvel, even if it was weird that the Marvel family was over at DC. The Shazam family is just weird-sounding.

    The argument that people call him Shazam all the time and thus we should embrace people’s misconception is troubling to me. I know a lot of people who don’t read comics who keep asking me about the Superman reboot with Gwen Stacey in it this time instead of Mary Jane. How hard is it to correct people? And isn’t that what being a nerd is all about?

  22. February 2, 2012 at 12:57 pm — Reply

    I don’t know who either of these guys are! Sorry. That was just for Matthew.

    Don’t feel truly invested in either name, except how it may affect some of the underlying story.

    What will they call the wizard who gave him his powers? Calling him Shazam would be too confusing, but I don’t necessarily agree that they have to change the word he shouts to change.
    What will Freddy Freeman shout when he transforms, if Freddy Freeman is part of this reboot?
    And, most importantly, will this change what Hoppy will say?

  23. JoeM
    February 2, 2012 at 4:08 pm — Reply

    I picked worst move ever, but I don’t feel that strongly.
    I can see the point of not picking a fight over it. Especially since in a lot of ways DC already lost. Except for those who care, no one really understands the difference. I see eyes glaze over when I try to explain it. Of course I see that a lot when I try to explain anything.
    But I am a bit invested in the Captain Marvel name.
    I’ll still like the character either way though.

You know you have something to say, say it in the comment section