Who Is Captain Marvel/Ms. Marvel/Shazam!?

In the era of comic book superheroes turned Hollywood sensations it seems like every year fans are left eagerly waiting for another blockbuster to hit the big screens.


Captain Marvel, the film that’s going to introduce the hero that many predict will save the Marvel Cinematic Universe from future Thanos finger snaps, will hit theatres on March 8, 2019.



The film will follow Air Force pilot Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) and is the first MCU film starring a woman hero. Captain Marvel is being co-directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck and is the second-to-last film in Marvel’s “Phase Three.”


On the flip side of the ‘comic book turned movie’ universe DC Comics’ Shazam! will be released on April 5, 2019. The film will follow Billy Batson (Asher Angel) and his superhero alter ego, Shazam (Zachary Levi).


Those who are familiar with DC Extended Universe movies know that they’re typically darker and more serious than Marvel films. They appeal to an older demographic and don’t waste time with the light-hearted humor that’s sprinkled into the likes of Ironman and Thor. It seems like Shazam! is going to break that mold.



These two superheroes have more in common than the release dates that separate them by a single month, however. Hear me out: Shazam used to be Captain Marvel until Marvel Comics copyrighted the name Captain Marvel for another superhero named Mar-Vell who would eventually die of cancer and give Carol Danvers the title of Captain Marvel, which left Batson’s hero with the name Shazam.


It’s not as crazy as it sounds, trust me.


Shazam!, Mar-Vell, Captain Marvel, & Ms. Marvel

The original creator of the superhero, Captain Marvel, now known as Shazam, was Fawcett Publications. Fawcett stopped publishing Captain Marvel comics in 1953 and DC Comics eventually licensed the Superman-like hero from Fawcett in 1972.


However, during the two decades that Fawcett had benched Captain Marvel, Marvel Comics copyrighted the name for another character named Mar-Vell. This meant that DC could use the Fawcett inspired character but needed to think of a new name. Hence, Shazam was born.


Mar-Vell is a Kree warrior who was sent to Earth as a member of a task force under Colonel Yon-Rogg. During his stint on Earth, Mar-Vell ended up saving a bunch of innocent humans from another member of the task force. Thankful for the help, the citizens began calling him Captain Marvel.



This takes us back to Carol Danvers, who was also saved by Mar-Vell. Yon-Rogg hated Mar-Vell and constantly tried to have him killed. In one of his plots to destroy his nemesis, Yon-Rogg kidnaps Danvers. During the fight that ensues Danvers is exposed to radiation from a Kree device called the Psyche-Magnitron, which turns her DNA half-Kree.


Danvers’ exposure to the Kree radiation gave her some pretty awesome superpowers and sparked the creation of Ms. Marvel. She didn’t adopt the mantle of Captain Marvel until seven years later when Mar-Vell, unfortunately, succumbed to cancer.



So how are you supposed to tell the two Captain Marvel characters hitting theatres apart? You can immediately recognize Shazam by his red and gold bodysuit, which brandishes a giant lightning bolt on its chest and is followed by a billowing white cape.



Billy Batson was bestowed with his powers after being sought out by an old but powerful wizard who tasks him with defending the Rock of Eternity. Every time Batson yells his alter ego’s name, he turns into a hero that has the ability to go toe-to-toe with Superman.


The word Shazam is actually an acronym made up of the six mythological Greek figures that give him his strength: Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury.


Shazam comes equipped with super-strength, invulnerability, and the ability to fly. He has control over lightning and can immediately solve complex riddles, codes, and puzzles. Much like Superman, Shazam is practically invincible outside of a single weakness. Nope, not Shazamonite; it’s his human alter-ego, Billy. Unless a villain can get Shazam to turn back into his child form, they’re in trouble.


Captain Marvel

Carol Danvers is, of course, a female, so that’s a good way to tell her apart from Shazam. She was already a total badass pilot before the Psyche-Magnitron turned her into a half-alien superhero, so you can set your expectations quite high.



Captain Marvel’s superpowers and abilities include increased strength, stamina, agility, and durability. She can fly and is completely invulnerable to toxins and poisons.


Danvers’ Kree DNA gave her the ability to control energy, which she uses to fire concussive blasts from each of her hands. She is immune to the effects of outer space and uses her ability to fly at super speeds to travel wherever she pleases.


The hidden strength that makes Captain Marvel one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel Universe are her Binary powers. When Danvers goes Binary she is bestowed with the power of a white hole, which allows her to control and create any form of radiation or gravity.


MCU movies have never introduced a hero as powerful as Danvers, but it’s going to take everything she has to reverse what has already happened and ultimately defeat the Mad Titan, Thanos.


Comic history can be confusing, but hopefully, this made the Captain Marvel identity conundrum a little less confusing. Shazam may be the original, but it makes more sense for the MCU to be saved by a Captain with its namesake.




Photo Credit: Polygon, PCgalaxy, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, FlickeringMyth

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