Captain Marvel Abilities:
Magically bestowed aspects of various archetypal figures, including:
- 1) Super-strength, speed, stamina and courage
2) Physical and magical invulnerability
4) Vast wisdom and enhanced intellect
5) Control over and emission of magic lightning
<<Captain Marvel is a 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. Whenever Billy speaks the wizard's name, he is struck by a magic lightning bolt that transforms him into an adult superhero empowered with the abilities of six archetypal figures. Several friends and family members, most notably Marvel Family cohorts Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr., can share Billy's power and become "Marvels" themselves.
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 the other competing books of the time. Captain Marvel was also the first comic book superhero to be adapted to film, in a 1941 Republic Pictures serial titled Adventures of Captain Marvel.
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 a copy of Superman. In 1972, DC licensed the Marvel Family characters and returned them to publication, acquiring all rights to the characters by 1991. DC has since integrated Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family into their DC Universe, and have attempted to revive the property several times with mixed success.
Inspirations for Captain Marvel came from a number of sources. His visual appearance was modeled after that of Fred MacMurray, a popular American actor of the period., though comparisons to both Cary Grant and Jack Oakie were made as well. Fawcett Publications' founder, Wilford H. Fawcett, was nicknamed "Captain Billy," which inspired the name "Billy Batson" and Marvel's title as well. Fawcett's earliest magazine was titled Captain Billy's Whiz Bang
, which inspired the title Whiz Comics. In addition, Fawcett adapted several of the elements that had made Superman, the first popular comic book superhero, popular (super strength and speed, science-fiction stories, a mild-mannered reporter alter ego), and incorporated them into Captain Marvel. Fawcett's circulation director Roscoe Kent Fawcett recalled telling the staff, "give me a Superman, only have his other identity be a 10- or 12-year-old boy rather than a man
As a result, Captain Marvel was given a twelve-year-old boy named Billy Batson as his alter ego. In the origin story printed in Whiz Comics #2, Billy, a homeless newsboy, is led by a mysterious stranger to a secret subway tunnel. An odd subway car with no visible driver takes them past Seven statues depicting the Seven Deadly Enemies of Man (Pride, Envy, Greed, Hatred, Selfishness, Laziness and Injustice) to the lair of the wizard Shazam, who grants Billy the power to become the adult superhero Captain Marvel and shows him his life, after which a stone above Shazam's head crushes him, although his ghost says he will give advice when a brazier is lighted
. In order to transform into Captain Marvel, Billy must speak the wizard's name, an acronym for the six various legendary figures who had agreed to grant aspects of themselves to a willing subject: the wisdom of Solomon; the strength of Hercules; the stamina of Atlas; the power of Zeus; the courage of Achilles; and the speed of Mercury. Speaking the word produces a bolt of magic lightning which transforms Billy into Captain Marvel; speaking the word again reverses the transformation with another bolt of lightning.
Captain Marvel wore a bright red costume with gold trim and a yellow lightning bolt insignia on the chest. The body suit originally included a partial bib front, but was changed to a one-piece skintight suit within a year. In 1994, the DC Comics version of the costume had the partial bib restored. The costume also included a white-collared cape trimmed with gold flower symbols, usually asymmetrically thrown over the left shoulder and held around his neck by a gold cord. The cape came from the ceremonial cape worn by the British nobility, photographs of which appeared in newspapers in the 1930s.
In addition to introducing the main character and his alter ego, Captain Marvel's first adventure in Whiz Comics #2 also introduced his archenemy, the evil Doctor Sivana, and found Billy Batson talking his way into a job as an on-air radio reporter. Captain Marvel was an instant success, with Whiz Comics #2 selling over 500,000 copies. By 1941, he had his own solo series, Captain Marvel Adventures, while continuing to appear in Whiz Comics as well. He also made periodic appearances in other Fawcett books, including Master Comics.
When Billy Batson says the magic word "Shazam!" and transforms into Captain Marvel, he is granted the following powers:
for the wisdom of S
olomon: As Captain Marvel, Billy has instant access to a vast amount of scholarly knowledge, including most known languages and sciences. He has exceptional photographic recall and mental acuity allowing him to read and decipher hieroglyphics, recall everything he has ever learned and solve long mathematical equations. He also has a great understanding of divine phenomena in the mortal world. The wisdom of Solomon also provides him with counsel and advice in times of need. In early Captain Marvel stories, Solomon's power also gave Marvel the ability to hypnotize people. (Solomon is the only figure in the list not taken from Greco-Roman mythology.)
for the strength of H
ercules: Hercules' power grants Captain Marvel immense superhuman strength, making him one of DC Comics' strongest characters; he is able to easily bend steel, punch through walls, and lift massive objects, (including whole continents like South America). In the comics, this strength has evolved in parallel to that of Superman.
for the stamina of A
tlas: Using Atlas' stamina, Captain Marvel can withstand and survive most types of extreme physical assaults, and heal from them. Additionally, he does not need to eat, sleep, or breathe and can survive unaided in space when in Captain Marvel form. Pre-Crisis, it was implied in some stories to give him invulnerability.
for the power of Z
eus: Zeus' power, besides fueling the magic thunderbolt that transforms Captain Marvel, also enhances Marvel's other physical and mental abilities, and grants him resistance against all magic spells and attacks. Marvel can use the lightning bolt as a weapon by dodging it and allowing it to strike an opponent or target. The magic lightning has several uses, such as creating apparatus, restoring damage done to Marvel, and acting as fuel for magic spells. If Billy is poisoned, for example, transforming will enable him to survive. Pre-Crisis, it was claimed in some stories to give him invulnerabilty. It can also turn other Marvels back by striking them. It aids interdimensional travel at the Rock of Eternity.
for the courage of A
chilles: This aspect gives Captain Marvel the courage of Achilles, giving him bravery and in one story it is claimed to give him fighting skills. In the Trials of Shazam! mini-series, this was changed to Achilles' near invulnerability. It also aids Captain Marvel's mental fortitude against most mental attacks.
for the speed of M
ercury: By channeling Mercury's speed, Captain Marvel can move at superhuman speeds and fly, although in older comics he could only leap great distances. This also gives Marvel the ability to fly to the Rock of Eternity by flying faster than the speed of light.
Repeating the word "Shazam!" transforms Captain Marvel back into Billy. In Whiz Comics #11, Billy is shown to be able to summon up a ghostly version of Captain Marvel by whispering the word, and in other stories the spirit of Captain Marvel was shown talking to Billy. Captain Marvel shares his powers with Marvel Family members Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel, Jr. In pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths stories, this had no detrimental effect on the heroes' abilities, while in DC's Power of Shazam series and irregularly afterward, the Shazam power was shown to be a finite source which would be divided in half or into thirds depending upon how many Marvels were in active super-powered form at one time.
As he was transformed by magic lightning, Captain Marvel was shown in several stories to be susceptible to both high-powered magic, which can weaken or de-power him, and to significantly high voltages of electricity or lightning to revert him back to Billy Batson form. Likewise, lightning could transform Billy to Captain Marvel. The modern version of Captain Marvel is also vulnerable in the fact that he possesses the immature personality of a teenager. In one story it is shown that if the Elders strike their name from the list Captain Marvel loses his powers. If Shazam is incapitated he could not send down the lightning, though later it was shown Zeus could send it down also. It was claimed in some stories that he was invulnerable to every force in the universe, including shrinking rays.>>