My Thoughts On The Speculation That Brad Peyton Could Be Directing Shazam!

Earlier today, speculation exploded that Brad Peyton could be directing the Shazam! movie, or at least producing it based merely on the fact that Geoff Johns followed him on Twitter:

From CosmicBookNews.com

A Twitter follow would seem to be a flimsy basis for such a hypothesis, but consider:

Recently, we were told from no less than Dwayne Johnson (on his Instagram), Hiram Garcia (on his Twitter), and Geoff Johns (on his Twitter) that they held and attended a meeting at DC Comics about Black Adam, the Shazam! movie, and the tonal shift of the DCEU.

Following that meeting, Garcia, the co-producer on the Shazam! movie, was followed by Johns on Twitter. Along with Garcia, both Peyton and Beau Flynn were recently followed by Johns.

Why point out that Beau Flynn was followed by Johns? What does that have to do with Brad Peyton? Because Flynn was also in attendance at the same DC Comics meeting with Johns, Garcia, and Johnson:

Not counting Johnson, who Johns was already following on Twitter for a good while now, that’s two people who were at the meeting and two new follows for Johns, so it would make sense that a recent Twitter follow by Johns might indicate that Peyton was at the meeting, too.

Additionally, of note is that in the past, Twitter-goers who have sleuthed out clues based on Johns’ newest follows on Twitter have actually been successful in revealing their connection to a DCEU film, so the idea that Peyton is connected to the Shazam! movie is a viable line of thought.

But IS Peyton directing or otherwise producing the Shazam! movie?

We do not know. We cannot know. Not yet.

See, despite Peyton being followed by Johns on Twitter, there is one problem with the theory above. We do not know if Peyton was actually at the DC Comics meeting, so we cannot ascertain any involvement of his with the Shazam! movie or any other DCEU movie for that matter. Without that vital piece of hard information, the speculation stands on contentious grounds at best, so all we can do is guess.

Fortunately, the clues do not end there. There’s more we can add to this picture.

But first, let me say that I have had my eye on Peyton dating back to the spring of 2015. In fact, for those who have followed me on Twitter early on, they might remember me touting Brad Peyton as the likeliest candidate to direct the Shazam! movie at that time, back when people were speculating that James Wan might be directing the Shazam! movie. (He is directing Aquaman, in case you did not get that memo.)

Why, though? Why would I have had my eye on Peyton?

Let me tell you:

Johnson has a history of working with many of the same directors and producers he has worked with before, and Johnson has a history of collaborating with Peyton (San Andreas and Journey 2).

It does not stop there, either; Johnson and Peyton are slated to work together again on San Andreas 2, Journey 3, and Rampage. With future collaboration on their schedule, there is no discounting the possibility that they could work on other movies together, including the Shazam! movie

That, and Peyton’s body of work is mostly very kid-friendly (Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, for example), so he is a relatively strong, if not perfect tonal fit for Billy Batson, a boy who embodies the ultimate wish fulfillment of every child on the planet; to become a superman-level powerhouse superhero with just a magic word.

If so, it seems a plausible suggestion that even if New Line Cinema and Seven Bucks Production go with New 52 Shazam, we will likely see Billy Batson and Captain Marvel with their classic personalities.

Cool. What else do we know?

Well, Umberto Gonzalez said last April that he heard that they (New Line Cinema and Seven Bucks Production) were waiting on a (final) draft of the script and that when it was done, it will go out to directors. The next month, Hiram Garcia back that up, saying that when the script is done, “it will rise to the top” in terms of being greenlit and going into pre-production, meaning that the script will go out to directors and they will start the work of casting for the movie.

Given Johnson’s (and Garcia’s) history of working with people he has worked with in the past, it would make sense that one of those names would include directors that they have worked with, especially one who is a tonal fit to make a movie about Billy Batson. If so, I could not possibly rule out that Peyton could have gotten a copy of the final draft of the Shazam! script.

But is the script done? We do not know, but we’ve known going back to May that they were waiting on the final draft of the script. That’s seven months. Whole scripts can be completed in as little as four months. Suicide Squad‘s script was completed in six weeks. That is way more than enough time to put the final touches on a script that has had a writer (Darren Lemke) attached to it back in September of 2014.

Furthermore, if we presume that Peyton was at the meeting in the capacity of a director, we can surmise that script is done and that it went out to directors. Think about it. No director would be at the meeting if script was not done, and they cannot have chosen one if that were the case.

And really, even thought we do not know the details of it, this was a meeting with the co-head of DC Films and at least another producer, so it was a big one. It is hard to imagine there would be such a meeting without a final script and/or a director in attendance.

It makes sense.

So let’s add up what we do know and what presumptions we have:

  • Fact: Johns followed Peyton, Garcia, and Flynn following the DC Comics meeting and both Garcia and Flynn were there.
  • Assumption: Because of Johns’ recent Twitter follows, it logically follows that Peyton could have been at that meeting, too.
  • Problem: We do not know for a fact that Peyton was there or if he was, in what capacity. We can only guess.
  • Fact: Johnson has a history of working with many of the same people he’s worked with, including Peyton, and Johnson was also at that meeting.
  • Fact: Peyton and Johnson are lined up for future work, so it’s entirely possible they’ll do even more, and if that turns out to be the case, it makes a collaboration between the two of them the Shazam! movie a distinct possibility.
  • Fact: Peyton’s body of work is very kid-friendly, and so is Captain Marvel when done right. Peyton is a solid tonal fit for Captain Marvel.
  • If the script is indeed finished, we can reasonably put Peyton on a list of those who would have received the script, just based on the info above. If so,…
  • It would make sense that Peyton was at the meeting and it was in the capacity of a director.

Verdict: We cannot decisively conclude that Peyton is being considered or is in contention for the director of the Shazam! movie, but the evidence thus far not only supports the idea as a distinct possibility, but also presents an overwhelming and convincing argument that we cannot rule him out. In short, keep a very watchful eye out.

Personally, if Peyton is indeed the director of the Shazam! movie, I am more than okay with it. With the right script (assuming it is a really strong one), Brad Peyton could be a capable and competent director for the Shazam! movie.

What I am not okay with is the idea that because Johns was also in the meeting, that  he likely is involved with the Shazam! movie, especially if it happens to be a creative one. For the record, though, I do not think he is involved creatively, since at one point, he was tapped to co-write the Shazam! movie with Bill Birch, but was taken off the project. The writing duties later went to someone else (Darren Lemke). I think Johns’ chance for a creative role on the project has long passed him.

It is just that… Well, Johns is in charge of the DCEU, and knowing how  Johns sees, writes, and treats Captain Marvel… Well, that makes me nervous. Very nervous. (For why that is, read my Open Letter to DC. Johns’ New 52 Shazam was horrible.) It would seem that as co-head of DC Films, Johns would conceivably have the power to make major decisions for the Shazam! movie, even if the script and ideas for the film was well into development two years before Johns became co-head of DC Films.

The only good thing is that like with DC Comics’ Rebirth, Johns is course-correcting the direction of the DCEU’s future tone, which, until now, has been morosely grim and gritty, to one of fun, hope, and optimism. With the discussion of the Shazam! movie as a subject, and with New 52 Shazam being a priority in the two-year Rebirth story, it would not be a stretch to think that Captain Marvel is poster boy to transition the DCEU to fun, optimistic, and hopeful movies.

My personal fears aside, I want to remind you all (and myself) that altogether, we do not know anything yet, but the speculation that Peyton could be up for the job as the director of the Shazam! movie is a viable one. It just makes sense. Just keep in mind that we are missing some very vital information and that before we make any conclusions, we should consider the bigger picture and be careful not to leap to unfounded and premature pronouncements. (I’m looking at you, Geek Media.)

As always, call down the lightning, Captain Marvel fans!

Sha-Zam!

Re: Brandon Molale And The Shazam! Movie: A (Badly Needed) Clarification

Hello, Captain Marvel fans!

Brandon Molale

By now, you will likely have come across Brandon Molale’s social media posts on New Year’s  Eve and New Year’s Day on Twitter (here and here) and Instagram (here and here) in regards to his highly coveted role of Captain Marvel in the 2019 Shazam! movie.

It has resulted in a high number of people thinking that Molale is in talks for the role of Captain Marvel or that he’s up for the role.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, he spoke with someone on New Year’s Eve about the role of Captain Marvel, but what it is that was said is unknown, but we do have a confirmation on what the discussion was about and who it was that he spoke with.

First, a clarification is needed, but before I do that, a little – okay, long – backstory is needed:

Molale has wanted and talked about wanting the role dating all the way back to 2006.

At that time and in the years after, Molale has been a fan-favorite casting choice for Captain Marvel, because he is the one actor who looks like Captain Marvel walked out of an Alex Ross illustration.

In 2007, Molale, along with Dwayne Johnson, were considered for the role of Captain Marvel. That same year, Johnson was talked into considering the role of Black Adam by fans and it was put to a vote. The overwhelming majority of fans (86%) voted for him to play Black Adam, for which he ended up being cast in and has been eagerly waiting to play the role ever since. This left the role of Captain Marvel vacant, and Molale as the only known contender to be considered for it.

Unfortunately, after 2007, the Shazam! movie had several starts and stops, either with delays and at least one cancellation during the following years, forcing it to exist in a perpetual state of development purgatory, including one in which writer John August detailed why the movie failed to get the green-light in 2009.

Fast forward to the Spring of 2014, the New Line Cinema president at the time, Toby Emmerich, announced that (along with several movies featuring several DC properties,) New Line Cinema had the Shazam! in development once more.

Speculation and anticipation for who would play Captain Marvel went rampant. Molale was once again a fan-favorite.

Later that summer, Johnson playfully teased fans that he was involved in the Shazam! movie, leaving many to guess whether he was playing Captain Marvel or Black Adam.

Molale joined in on the fun that summer, too when he publicly campaigned for the role with a strong proclamation:

As it turned out, Johnson was once more confirmed for the role of Black Adam a few weeks later. That same day, taking advantage of the fact that the role of Captain Marvel remained still-vacant, Molale again expressed that desire for the role:

Fast forward again, but this time to June 2016, where he told me he still wanted to play Captain Marvel:

All of this is a long-winded way of saying that the role of Captain Marvel is Molale’s long-time dream role.

Molale wants to play Captain Marvel badly.

Fortunately for him, fate may at last be favoring him, when on this past New Year’s Eve, Molale shared on Twitter that he finally had a conversation he’d waited nine years to have (going back to 2007):

In that tweet, Molale hash-tagged “Shazam” and included Johnson’s Twitter username, @The Rock, suggesting that the conversation with whom he had was with Johnson about the role of Captain Marvel in the upcoming Shazam! movie.

2016 MTV Movie Awards

I know what some of you are thinking: Why would he have the conversation with Johnson specifically, though? What exactly is it that Dwayne Johnson can do for him? Isn’t Johnson just the actor playing Black Adam? The answer is because Johnson is an owner of the production company, Seven Bucks Production, and they are producing the Shazam! movie for New Line Cinema.

This means that if it was indeed Johnson with whom Molale spoke with, Johnson can speak on behalf of it in regards to the Shazam! movie (as he is wont to do from time to time), and from there, any details that he shares with Molale, Molale can act on it.

Indeed, in the Instagram post of the same Nora Roberts quote, Molale provides an expanded statement:

“I don’t know if you call it divine intervention or not, but I believe everything happens for a reason.
Today, I was blessed to have the conversation with somebody I have waited 9 years to have. I said what needed to be said and now it’s time to move on. I asked and let it be known as to what I want. Now it is out of my hands. There are no more excuses for me to make. This was the opportunity I have been waiting for.
2017 is a big year of change for everybody. Today’s opportunity was exactly what I needed to light the fire in me. As I reflect today on the past year, as rough as this year was, I am extremely humble and grateful for all the opportunities I was given. Thanks friends for all your support.
Be humble. Be grateful. Work hard! Happy New Year!
#nomoreexcuses #divineintervention #opportunity #motivation #happynewyear #2017 #shazam #dccomics @dccomics @therock #actor #stuntman #brandonmolale @brandonmolale

There are two key things to take from that:

A) Whoever Molale spoke with, he made it known what it is that he’s long wanted, and now he’s being given the opportunity to do so. No more, no less. Note that he mentions that it’s lit a fire in him to make it happen. This likely means that Molale was indeed given information on which he can act upon.

This is supported by the very image he posts, which quotes Nora Roberts:

“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it.
If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.
If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.
– Nora Roberts”

B) Like he did on Twitter, Molale also hash-tagged “Shazam” and included Johnson’s username. And like we could on Twitter, we can surmise that the person that Molale spoke with was Johnson and the conversation was in regards to the role of Captain Marvel. When you combine that with the fact that the timeline of nine years (which goes back to 2007), the fact we know that he’s wanted the role of Captain Marvel since then, and that Johnson’s company is producing the Shazam! movie, we can safely hypothesize, if not conclude that it was indeed Johnson that Molale spoke with and that it was in regards to the role of Captain Marvel.

However, despite the evidence, these deductions were speculative. We had no definitive answer on just who Molale spoke with and what it is they talked about.

Fortunately, Molale dropped more hints the next day, on New Year’s Day. This time, Molale posted a combo picture of New 52 Shazam, the famous picture of him rocking the Captain Marvel T-shirt at what appears to be a premiere of Jamie Kennedy’s Kickin’ It Old Skool, and another one of him in top physique.

This one is very telling. Though Molale doesn’t reveal any new information, we can see that he tells us to set our goals and make it happen, presumably because he is going to do the same.

Which goals, though? It would appear that the hashtags “Shazam” and “motivation” and the photo within provide us with an implicative answer.

If so, then when we combine the new information with the one above it, in which Molale tells us that he was given an opportunity for which he’s long desired, and for which it lit a fire under him and that on both occasions, he uses the same hashtags, we can safely conclude this is the same motivation about a certain opportunity for which he speaks: The opportunity to earn the chance to play the role of Captain Marvel.

Also, note that Molale includes his location at the time of that Tweet: Equinox.

Not the astronomical event, mind you, but the fitness gym located in California, where Molale resides.

From that nugget of information, we can deduce that he’s begun or resumed training his physique. If so, then we can now guess that a part of Molale’s conversation was:

“Get back in top shape, and we’ll talk.”

By Alex Ross

It would make sense. The role of Captain Marvel does not yet belong to anyone, and if it does go to anyone, it should be someone whose physique resembles Captain Marvel’s impressive muscularity, especially in this day and age where superhero actors have set the standards such that they must possess such physiques. Molale’s physique is not what it once was, so he’d have to hit the gym to regain his former muscularity. This criteria could easily be the goal that Molale has set for himself.

Thus far, here’s the score: We know that Molale has wanted his dream role of Captain Marvel badly, and that we can safely assume that he may have finally had the conversation he’s waited to have since 2007, when he was last considered for the role, and that he’s now being given the opportunity to earn it, possibly by Johnson himself.

So where’s the confusion? These are all things that you, the reader, can easily figure out for yourself. What’s the purpose of this article?

Well, the problem is that since Molale’s posts on social media on New Year’s Even and on New Year’s Day, some geek sites, none of which I will name, published misleading headlines, such as this one: “Brandon Molale In Talks For Shazam.”

Such a headline clearly implies that Molale is in negotiations or partaking in some official dialogue for the role of Captain Marvel, even if the article does nothing more than speculate about what his posts on New Year’s Even and New Year’s Day meant, like we did above. The problem is that the headline is not true. At all. And that’s why I’m writing this article. I’m going to clear the proverbial air on it.

You see, Molale did not specifically say that he was in talks for the role of Captain Marvel. He says nothing about any negotiations being had by either himself or another party in regards to him in playing the role. All he said was that expressed a long-time interest of his and now was being given an opportunity. Nothing less, nothing more.

Yes, Molale provided hints, the dots of which we can all easily connect to form a very solid, working hypothesis. However, I repeat that despite the evidence, we can only speculate. We cannot objectively reach a conclusion.

So, as you can imagine, when misinformation is posted on the internet, an uncontrollable digital wildfire becomes ablaze in the time it takes to Retweet it. It takes on a hydra effect, where when you cut off one head, two more takes its place. It can only be combated with facts and evidence against it.

A few acquaintances of mine have pointed me out to at least one such article and I’ve had to shoot them down. Unfortunately, the damage has been done. The hydra of misinformation has nested itself in too many minds.

Indeed, Molale himself had to combat the misinformation today, this time going to the length of actually explicitly stating who he spoke with on New Year’s Eve and of what they spoke of; his interest in the role of playing Captain Marvel:

When I reached out to Molale about the subject with an offer to relay a message to fans, he reaffirmed his Tweet above:

“I have spoken to Dwayne. He knows my passion and desire to play [Captain Marvel/Shazam]. I have waited nine years to speak to him regarding this. I have wanted to play this character for over 11 years now. There’s nothing else I can do; it’s all above my pay grade… I will do this character the justice it deserves.”

See? Molale simply expressed his desire for the role to Dwayne Johnson (and the opportunity being given to him to earn it, if his New Year’s Eve posts are any indication).

Unfortunately, though he said it was a good one, Molale said he is keeping the rest of his conversation with Johnson private.

And that is all we need to know.

Nothing more, nothing less.

And though it has been a long wait, and many fans are growing impatient with the lack of news, including yours truly, we must be patient. Everything will come to us in good time.

The irresponsible headlines that were published should not have led Molale to feel the need to confirm that it was indeed Johnson he spoke with and that it was about the role of Captain Marvel, even if it is the kind of positive news we want. We do not need to consume every bit of information. Just be patient and let the news come when they do.

Molale deserves to have the context of his posts on social media placed in the proper context.

The unfortunate part is that even when I post this article, the hydra will still be out there.

At the very least, you, the reader, will not be misinformed.

As always, call the down the lightning, Captain Marvel fans!

Shazam!

WHIZ Comics Reborn! – A Fan Comic

Shazam! Hope you’re having a Marvel-ous Monday, Captain Marvel fans!

Over the weekend, DC told the fans at NYCC that “Shazam is a priority,” in 2017 only to tell us that we won’t see him right away, with all indications being that if and when they do publish his Rebirth book, it won’t be until after he’s had his part somewhere in the two-year Rebirth story.

That was disappointing to hear.

DC hasn’t published a proper Captain Marvel on-going series since 1999. If DC does indeed publish a Captain Marvel (or Shazam) Rebirth book in 2017, people born in 1999 will have gone their entire childhood without a proper Captain Marvel monthly in the main publishing line.

Think about that.

That’s a very somber idea to digest, isn’t it?

Because of that, I resented that DC has made me wait that long. I also resented that time and again, they told us that they had plans for Captain Marvel, only to either not follow up on it, or delay it yet again. (Same with New Line Cinema for the Shazam! movie, but I’ll digress.) Perpetual anticipation and/or yearning for a series year after year with no tangible payoff is exhausting.

DC owns the character copyright and they can choose whether or not publish him. That is their right. They hold the power.

But then I thought, “What if I took away that power that they have over?”

What if I created a fan comic of the kinds stories of Captain Marvel that I’d want to read? What if I shared them for everyone to read and enjoy?

If DC won’t do it themselves, why can’t I?

More importantly, why shouldn’t I? I can write and draw comics and I enjoy it as much as I enjoy reading comics.

Of course, there is the matter of copyright law, and it is a serious matter. However, fan comics are ubiquitous these days, and DC is known to turn a blind eye to them as long as fans don’t make money off of the fan comics.

There’s no reason to think that DC should or would be opposed to me making a fan comics that I made for myself of my favorite superhero, provided that I am not exploiting the character for tangible or monetary gains or benefits.

Of course, should they serve me with a cease and desist letter, I will comply.

That said, without further ado, I present you my idea from yesterday, WHIZ Comics Reborn!

WHIZ Comics Reborn!
WHIZ Comics Reborn!

(This is merely a mock-up, and definitely not the final look. Expect it to look much more refined when it’s ready.)

Each issue will be a self-contained story ranging from just a few pages to a full-sized comic story consisting of at least 22 pages featuring classic Captain Marvel.

It’ll have everything; a whimsical world with whimsical stories about a pure-hearted boy who says a magic word to become the World’s Mightiest Mortal.

I will definitely have it lettered professionally and may commission a pro colorist to help me out so that it looks perfect. I want it to look like a comic that I’d read and have it printed for myself if I wanted to.

Of course, I’ll make it available for anyone who wants to read it.

Shazam!

 

Dan Didio: “Shazam Is A Priority,” (But Not Really)!

Yesterday, at the New York Comic-Con, Dan Didio and Jim Lee held a Meet the Publishers panel, where they answered questions from fans, most of them geared towards Rebirth, their highly successful line-wide initiative.

One of the most popular questions since Rebirth was announced and explained in February was whether DC had any plans for Captain Marvel, which is understandable, given that fans have been clamoring for more Captain Marvel following the success of Thunderworld and Convergence: Shazam!

Geoff Johns answered that in May with an affirmative, but gave no further information other than to say that there will be a Captain Marvel Rebirth book some time after DC got their first wave of Rebirth books just right. In other words, Captain Marvel was being saved for Wave 2 or possibly later.

It’s October now and the first wave has proved to be a wildly triumphant venture, probably beyond even DC’s expectations. It’s safe to say that DC got it right, so naturally, questions about the second wave have begun taking prominence, and now as then, “When will we see Captain Marvel?” is chief among them.

Fortunately, a similar question came up at the panel. The unexpected part was that we actually got an answer.

Question: Will we see a Rebirth of Shazam?
“He’s part of the story – you’re not going to see him right away,” DiDio said. “There’s a lot of characters off the table [in 2016] that we’ll see in 2017. We just went to great lengths to reestablish our characters, and we have a lot of stories to tell. But Shazam has always been a priority to us, and he’s part of the story.”

Wow. Okay.

Didio didn’t say much, but provided a reaffirmation, some nuggets, and an awfully perplexing contradiction. It’s enough to digest.

The result is that Captain Marvel fans more or less came away with acid reflux.

The good news: Didio reaffirmed that they are still planning to go forward with including Captain Marvel in Rebirth in 2017, saying he is a “part of the story.” I assume that means that they intend for Captain Marvel to be a part of their two-year story arc over the course of Rebirth. (I know, I know, they’re calling him Shazam. I refuse to. That’s besides the point.)

So there’s that.

The bad news and the initial reason Captain Marvel fans are disappointed: Didio said we’re not going to see Captain Marvel right away. It’s disappointing that five months after Johns told us that, we’re being told the same thing.

Then there’s the nuggets, one big and one small.

The small nugget is that DC is seemingly going to stick with calling him Shazam. If so, that likely means we’re still going to get New 52 Shazam instead of classic Captain Marvel. But we already knew that. What we don’t know whether they plan on getting back to classic Captain Marvel’s roots as a purely good boy with a heart of gold.

The big nugget is what Didio didn’t say. Astute nugget diggers will have noticed that Didio said nothing of a Captain Marvel Rebirth book, much less a monthly title. He talked only of Captain Marvel being “part of the story.”

Aha.

Reading in between the lines, if DC is going to publish an actual monthly title or even a special single-issue Rebirth book for Captain Marvel, they don’t appear likely to do it until they do their story arc first.

In other words, DC could just go ahead and publish a Captain Marvel Rebirth special and monthly in the initial phase of Wave 2, but they just don’t want to.

Nuggets, right?

It doesn’t stop there, either. It gets more frustrating.

Yep, I’m speaking of the contradiction in Didio’s comment above, the part where despite saying that we won’t see Captain Marvel right away, Didio then goes on to say that Captain Marvel’s “always been a priority.”

Wow, indeed.

It’s not a lie, necessarily, but it’s an insult to our intelligence.

DC, you have not published Captain Marvel in a proper on-going series in almost 18 years. Kids born in 1999 will be graduating next and going off to college. That’s an entire childhood.

Sure, you’ve had numerous chances to, but you kept choosing not to because you decided other things were more important. Additionally, toward the end of 2015, you said that New 52 Shazam was going to be “an integral part of 2016.” You had the opportunity to do it in Rebirth, but you didn’t take it. Again, you decided he wasn’t important enough to do so.

No, you cannot possibly have “always prioritized” a character if you make him subsequent in your publishing endeavors time and again. This is what you call a mutually exclusive dichotomy.

Clearly, Captain Marvel’s Rebirth is NOT a priority for you, DC.

Granted, you may have some special story event planned, but since the New 52 began, that’s all you’ve given Captain Marvel fans; Captain Marvel in story events.

Curse of Shazam!, abomination that it was, was just a back-up story to the main Justice League title. Thunderworld and Convergence: Shazam! were only a limited part of the Multiversity and Convergence story events, respectively.

Why do you think they’ve been asking for more? And it’s not just that, either. Captain Marvel fans aren’t asking for these little teases you’ve given them in one-time story events; what they’re really asking you for are monthly adventures of the Captain of the Lightning.

Give them that.

Actually MAKE Captain Marvel a priority.

He deserves it.

 

Open Letter To DC: Call Him Shazam, Make Him Magic’s Champion, But Don’t Make Billy Batson A Jerk In Rebirth.

Dear DC,

105I am writing to you again.

The first time was when I published my Captain Marvel Rebirth wishlist, shortly after it became known that you guys were planning on publishing his Rebirth book. The only difference is what we have here is an actual open letter.

As we get closer to Captain Marvel’s Rebirth book, I felt it imperative to write you again. I don’t expect anyone at DC to read this, much less for anything to come about from this, but it will feel immensely purgative to express what I have to say below.

Some of this is a rant, some of this is an honest criticism of how you handled New 52 Shazam, but this is a genuine, heartfelt plea from a long-time Captain Marvel fan, for whom Captain Marvel means a lot.

I won’t rehash my wishlist article, but it had some wish items in there and some new ones that I want to share before I get to the main point of this letter later on.

WHIZ Comics #2:
WHIZ Comics #2:

My first wish is for you, DC, is to call Captain Marvel by his proper name.

It is and will always be Captain Marvel.

His original creators, Bill Parker in particular, always intended for him to have that military title in his name and have insisted that Captain Marvel is his proper name. That should be honored. That, and Shazam is the name of the wizard.

There is no reason – not even a legal one – that necessitated a change in Captain Marvel’s name.

Of course, DC, you probably don’t agree.

How do I know this? Because in 2011, you went and did exactly that; you changed Captain Marvel’s name to Shazam.

And what was the reason you gave us for doing so? Because – and I am quoting from you: “… everybody thinks he’s called Shazam already, outside of comics.”

Seriously, DC? You thought you should rename a character because people who weren’t buying comics thought he had a different name instead of thinking about what those who actually were comics thought?

Pathetic.

Look, DC, I get wanting to expand your consumer base, but who exactly did you think you were the ones you should be selling to? The ones who were buying your comics, or the ones who weren’t?

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam #19
Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam #19

That’s what I thought.

And what did the people who were buying comics call him?

They called him Captain Marvel.

Well, most of them did, anyway, and which name do you think they preferred?

Again, that’s right, DC.

Captain Marvel. It’s ALWAYS been Captain Marvel, and it always will be.

By changing Captain Marvel’s name, you began to – if not further – alienate a section of the consumer base that was passionate about Captain Marvel.

Consumers like me.

Never try and attract potential new consumers at the expense of the ones who are your tried and true consumer base. That’s just simple business sense.

Further, as I noted above, there was also no legal reason that necessitated changing the name from Captain Marvel to Shazam. Sure, Marvel Comics owned the Captain Marvel trademark, and has for decades going all the way back to the 1960’s, but they do not own the name, and they never have.

All that meant was that you could not use Captain Marvel’s name on the cover.

That’s it.

However, if you wanted to, you could call Captain Marvel by his proper name inside the comics themselves.

But then you already knew that because you called him Captain Marvel for 38 years inside the comics before deciding to change the name to Shazam in 2011.

And it didn’t stop there because even when you changed his name, you continued to use the Captain Marvel moniker. Indeed, you called him Captain Marvel in Thunderworld, Convergence: Shazam!, and Scooby Doo Team-Up #16.

So yeah, DC, you knew this.

With that said, let’s move on to my second wish:

coverLike you did with Thunderworld, for the sake of appropriate branding, please call the title of his book something else besides Shazam!

Let me explain:

The whole concept of branding is for consumers to associate a product with its source. You Should never, ever brand your main character with the name of a supporting character.

Why not?

Because if you do so, and the supporting character’s name is in the title instead of the name of your main character, you create the Link/Zelda conundrum.

That’s bad.

Why? Because you’ve already half-lost the game when it comes to optimizing your product’s brand. Your consumers will be confused before they’ve even bought the product. They’re going to think the name of the main character is Zelda when, in fact, his name is Link.

Worse, it won’t stop there. They will be confused for as long as you continue to brand your main character in such a fashion.

Confused consumers defeats the whole reason we have and go through the effort of branding our products to begin with.

This is basic business sense.

Now, I can already hear you saying (probably with exasperation), “But Marvel Comics owns the Captain Marvel trademark, so we can’t use the character’s name on the title.”

I know.

And that sucks. I get it.

However, using Shazam as an alternative or as a solution for branding Captain Marvel sucks even worse, if that’s possible.

Why?

Because there’s an easier way to fix this.

“What would you suggest then?” I hear you asking.

Use Captain Marvel’s nickname as the title.

Seriously, use The World’s Mightiest Mortal! as the title of Captain Marvel’s book, much like how you’ve used Man of Steel as the title a Superman book.

Or how about using a title that he was once published under, like WHIZ Comics?

Neither have any legal restrictions – that is, neither are copyrighted or trademarked – and are up for grabs for anyone to use.

These suggestions aren’t just alternatives; they are truly viable solutions.

By using one or both of those as titles, you can return to calling him Captain Marvel inside of the comics as you have done for decades, but with the bonus of actually being able start undoing the branding damage of using variations of Shazam! in the title.

superman-shazam-first-thunder
Superman/Shazam First Thunder

Next, my third wish:

Please stop pigeonholing Captain Marvel as your “magic Superman” or as some “guardian of magic.”

Look, I get that you want to make Captain Marvel even more distinguishable from Superman, At the height of his heyday, Captain Marvel’s stories included a wealth of sci-fi elements, thanks largely to Otto Binder.

Just look at Captain Marvel’s rogues gallery; they included an alien telepathic worm (Mr. Mind), a living nuclear-powered robot (Mr. Atom), a genius caveman (King Kull), a Nazi super-soldier (Captain Nazi), and more. A lot more. And that’s with not even getting into the fact that his main villain was a mad scientist.

Then, consider that for Captain Marvel to find the Rock of Eternity, he has to do so through scientific, physical means such as flying to the center of time and space or by an extra-dimensional train.

Any of those strike you as Captain Marvel being “magic guy,” DC?

By trying to portray Captain Marvel as a “magic Superman,” you distract prospective readers at the expense incorporating many of the other elements of Captain Marvel’s entire mythology, all of which is founded on the very thing that makes Captain Marvel so appealing:

Wish fulfillment.

As it is with wish fulfillment, it goes hand in hand with the sort of whimsicality the imagination can conjure, using both sides of the same coin: Magic and science.

So don’t cut yourself off from that. Don’t handcuff yourself to a limited amount of the kind of materials at your disposal. Take full advantage of his entire mythology: Both the magical AND scientific aspects of his world.

And on a very similar subject, DC, can we please stop saying Captain Marvel’s powers are magic-based?

I’m sorry, but it’s lazy.

When Billy Batson accesses the acrostic powers Captain Marvel’s powers, it makes it magic-caused, not magic-based.

When Captain Marvel’s uses the strength of Hercules (combined with the power of Zeus) to lift a heavy object, he is doing so with brute strength, not magic.

In other words, Captain Marvel’s superstrength is not mystical. They’re physical, like Superman’s.

My fourth wish:

By Alex Ross
By Alex Ross

Give Captain Marvel back his classic costume. It is timeless and still works today. It does so because of its sheer simplicity and its military theme.

No costume re-design has bested it, whether by an amateur artist or by a professional one, which is amazing because the costume was designed in 1939!

This is a testament C.C. Beck’s design skills, something for which does not get enough credit.

But let’s talk about something else for a minute. Let’s talk about re-designing a classic costume.

Let’s say that for some reason, you felt that Captain Marvel’s costume HAD to be re-designed, because it’s outdated or some artificial, silly reason like that.

I then humbly implore you to ask yourselves why Captain Marvel’s classic costume has stood the test of time and why so many fans prefer it. What are the right elements to keep in the old costume and transfer to the new one, one that is consistent with the hero’s name?

But let me save you the energy and time of doing that.

The aforementioned elements of simplicity and military thematics are to be the first and foremost ones, if not exclusively.

In your New 52 costume, I felt you got away from the true power and appeal of Captain Marvel’s classic costume. Gone was the elegant simplicity and timeless military theme, replaced with complicated style lines and a neutered theme of magic (the hood and magical lighting symbol) – which, of course, was a product of making Captain Marvel your own “magic Superman.”

The problem is that it just didn’t say “Captain Marvel.”

But then again, I suppose that was your intention. Still, even if it was what you were after, when it comes to creating a costume that stood the test of time, it was not effective.

Take Juggernaut as an example; his name alone implies a massive muscle-bound man who perhas has a penchant for for charging into things. He’s the proverbial unstoppable object. It is natural then, that his costume should incorporate elements of intimidation and feats of strength. With this concept in mind, a fitted strongman apparel and helmet would be extremely appropriate. Both would fit with the name, Juggernaut. With some proper aesthetics thrown in, you should end up with a costume that stands the test of time.

Guess what? In Juggernaut’s case, it has.  Very little about his costume has changed over the years.

Likewise with Spider-Man; his name should conjure images of a wall-crawling acrobat. Thus, it would be appropriate that his costume be arachnid-themed and skin-tight.

Unlike Juggernaut, though, Spider-Man’s gone through numerous costume changes. However, Marvel Comics has always, always reverted back to the original.

Why?

Because it’s timeless. It’s a winning design that Marvel got right on the first try. Each time, they tried to fix what was not broken, and each time, they failed. Sooner or later, they always returned to using the original costume.

Such is the power of a truly iconic, timeless costume design.

If you re-design a character’s costume and neglect the inherent elements of the character’s costume design, it would cease to be as powerful a design as the original.

This is true for every character. Captain Marvel is not exempt. As such, DC, if you feel it’s necessary to go with a new, more modern costume, I suggest asking yourselves how best to preserve the traits in Captain Marvel’s classic costume that makes it timeless and translate it into whatever new design you might give him in Rebirth.

If I may, how about something like this?

captain-marvel-my-drawing-rebirth-b
(Seriously, DC, you can have this design for free. Just credit me.)

As you can see, the simplicity and the military motif of Captain Marvel’s classic costume were retained, allowing for the power of costume to be optimized with a more modern aesthetic.

Justice League: War
Justice League: War

My fifth wish:

Please stop portraying Captain Marvel as an immature man-child.

Indeed, DC, since you guys have moved away from having Billy Batson and Captain Marvel be separate entities, making them one and the same, you naturally thought that if Captain Marvel has Billy’s mind, that he obviously must think like a 10-year old.

Basically like Tom Hanks’ Big, but with superpowers.

This, I presume, is to give fans the sense of Captain Marvel as being a comedy character.

I apologize, DC, but this is a clear case of memory loss. You have clearly forgotten Billy Batson’s backstory.

There’s two things you’re forgetting.

The first is that Captain Marvel is not a comedy character. He was never intended to make readers laugh. He was supposed to take the reader on an adventure and make them say, “Whoa! Now that was fun!” 

In other words, intended to be fun, not funny.

The second is that Billy Batson is already inherently mature for his age.

You see, for Billy Batson to survive on the streets of a major metropolitan city as an orphan child around the age of twelve and become a self-made radio celebrity at that age – much less be worthy of being chosen by a 5,000-year old wizard and have the vast powers of ancient figures bestowed upon him – one of them being the THE. WISDOM. OF. SOLOMON! – you’d have to be mature well beyond your years – even if that means, as Captain Marvel, you still had the mind of a child.

Clearly, DC, you’ve forgotten that Billy Batson is not one to possess an immature, childish mind.

Art by Neal Adams and Dick Giordano
Art by Neal Adams and Dick Giordano

No, Billy Batson is more like Harry Potter, a boy with a heart of gold and a decency beyond his years who was chosen for greater things. Similar to how Harry Potter’s wand chose Harry, the wizard Shazam chose Billy Batson to be Captain Marvel. (Interestingly, the analogy is more appropriate when you consider that like Harry Potter’s wand, Captain Marvel is the plot device designed to get him out of trouble, which was the way it always in the golden age where Billy Batson was the protagonist and he needed to call down the lightning.)

Now, DC, I know what you’re thinking: How does making Captain Marvel mature make him more whimsical or even interesting? Doesn’t maturity make make someone less fun, and inherently more adult?

Let me answer that with a question: Does being an adult make you less fun or less capable of fun?

No.

Why not?

Because maturity does not preclude having an inner child.

BOOM.

This is a powerful truth to behold once you realize it.

But what does having an inner child have to do with anything?

The inner child is the source of our child-like wonder, that innocent sense of awe and fun.

Now, it would be easy to confuse having an inner child as being immature, but nothing could be further from the truth.

You see, the older we get, when we indulge our inner child and get in touch with our child-like awe and sense of fun, we grow, which is what maturity is all about.

Immaturity, on the other hand, implies behavioral non-growth.

So no matter matter how old we get or how mature we become, we all have that inner child inside of us, and that inner child is who we really are.

This is what makes Captain Marvel – who literally has a child inside him – the absolute perfect metaphor for the inner child within all of us.

Why else do you think Captain Marvel is the paragon of brightness and optimism that he is, arguably more so than Superman?

Yep, his inner child.

JLA: Secret Origins
JLA: Secret Origins

Fawcett Publications knew this. The proof is in the whimsical nature and tone of Captain Marvel’s stories and this was a huge factor in them making Captain Marvel the undisputed King of the Golden Age. Captain Marvel was fun, not funny.

So, DC, when you make Captain Marvel an immature man-child, you defeat the very metaphor that he so adequately represents.

That, and there’s one more major aspect to consider when you make Captain Marvel an immature man-child; there is ALREADY a Captain Marvel-like character where the sole idea behind him is that he would behave and think like a young boy even after he transforms into his adult form.

His name is Prime, from Malibu comics.

Captain Marvel came first, so it really would be disingenuous to make him a caricature of Prime, a character that was BASED on him using Prime’s schtick when Captain Marvel was already highly appealing as a beyond-his-years mature youngster.

So, please, DC, indulge Captain Marvel’s inner child and forsake this immature man-child angle that you’ve grown fond of and I guarantee you that you will re-capture the magic and awe that made Captain Marvel so special and appealing.

My sixth wish:

screenshot_2015-03-01-05-12-40
Art by Mike Norton

Please let Captain Marvel’s world and stories be bright, whimsical, and energetic again. This is what made Thunderworld, and Convergence: Shazam! such big hits with the fans and it is what made the later issues of Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! one of your best-kept secrets in all of comics.

When Captain Marvel was at the height of his popularity, it was the whimsical nature of his world and stories that made him an icon. It was a winning formula then, and if you follow it again, will still continue to be a winning formula today.

Doing so is as simple a matter of pairing Captain Marvel with creators who not only understand the character, but have a love for the Marvel Family and/or are a fit for the character’s mythology and tone. The art, story, character portrayal should all have that one word in common: Whimsical.

Doc Shaner, Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodriguez, Mike Norton, Mark Waid, Grant Morrison, Gail Simone, and Cameron Stewart are all fits for the character. Of course, availability would be an issue, but there are no shortage of creators who would and could rock a Captain Marvel Rebirth book.

Convergence: Shazam! #1
Convergence: Shazam! #1

Some, like Doc Shaner – who LOVES Captain Marvel – would be worth waiting for when he’s available, because Doc Shaner would be to Captain Marvel what Greg Capullo was to Batman: Legendary.

Pairing the two of them together is money in the bank. You guys like money, right?

Now, assuming you are still with me after reading all of that, I am ready to discuss my seventh and final wish, which is ultimately the main point of this article:

Are you ready?

Please STOP making Billy Batson an egotistical jerk.

Seriously, this is of utmost regard.

Your New 52 Billy Batson is horrible. He is not endearing in the least.

Why?

Because he is an egotistical jerk and a brat.

Curse of Shazam
Curse of Shazam

I’ve long been vocal about my disdain for New 52 Shazam, having given up on the character altogether immediately following Darkseid War: Shazam! #1, in which I expressed that it was everything wrong with the character that you did not know you were doing.

Of all of my complaints since the introduction of New 52 Shazam in Curse of Shazam!, from calling the character Shazam instead of Captain Marvel, to continuing to make him an immature man-child for comedy relief, and pigeonholing him as DC’s “magic guy,” just to differentiate an already-distinctive Captain Marvel even more from Superman, the biggest for me was making Billy Batson a jerk.

Now, strange as this may sound at this point in the article, and while I consider all of the above wishes to be bare minimum requirements when publishing Captain Marvel, I can live with all of the aforementioned grievances listed above if you guys got back to making Billy Batson a pure-hearted boy in Rebirth instead of the jerk he was in the New 52.

There is nothing, I repeat: nothing, that will make me – and many other long-time Captain Marvel fans – drop a Captain Marvel Rebirth book faster than an Nth metal gravity punch than if Billy Batson continues being a jerk.

Shazam!: Power of Hope
Shazam!: Power of Hope

Fortunately, DC, your Rebirth has given me and many others some hope. Since it is predicated around you taking your New 52 universe and getting back to the core roots of your characters (and going forward with them), it has produced a sense of refreshing optimism, and so far, you guys have largely delivered on that promise, giving us back the classic Superman and Wally West that we all know and love. As a result, you are experiencing – forgive me – a true rebirth.

As you look to continue your streak of goodwill with the fans,  we become closer to the second wave of Rebirth, which you have said will come after you get this first wave of characters and their books just right. From the looks of things, you’ve done just that.

With that, our attention has begun to shift to the second wave. Based on Johns’ comments in May and the December solicitations, it seems that this second wave may arrive some time in the spring of next year, it appears possible, if not likely that we will get Captain Marvel’s Rebirth book in the second wave.

Despite not getting his own title yet, New 52 Shazam has already made an appearance in Rebirth, in DC Rebirth #1 and Hellblazer: Rebirth #1. Because of that, I don’t expect you to fully reinstate classic Captain Marvel in Rebirth, even though that would be the best possible thing you could do with Captain Marvel.

However, I do expect to get your New 52 Shazam. That’s not what I want, but given the premise that Rebirth is based on, and the precedence that you’ve established in bringing the classic Superman and the classic Wally West back, I do have hope that your plan is to take your New 52 Shazam and infuse him with the roots of classic Captain Marvel.

If so, I would consider that not only very encouraging, but also acceptable because Billy Batson being a purely good person is the very core root of the character, and that’s how he should be.

Let me elaborate:

WHIZ Comics #2
WHIZ Comics #2

In his Fawcett origins, Captain Marvel was secretly Billy Batson, an orphaned boy with the biggest heart who is able to transform into an adult superhero by saying a magic word. Despite horrible tragedies and serious misfortune such as the loss of his parents and being kicked out by his cruel uncle who stole his inheritance at such a young age, Billy Batson remained an utterly and purely good boy; selfless and incorruptible. These morally wholesome virtues are what made Billy Batson worthy to chosen by the wizard to be his champion.

These elements formed the core idea and core template of the character. It was a winning formula in the 40’s and it still holds mass appeal even in today’s highly cynical world.

Over the decades prior to the New 52, you did not change those core elements about Billy Batson. They remained largely, if not completely unchanged.

Why?

Because when you change the core idea and template of a character, the character becomes an entirely different character.

When you do that, you change the product – the brand, really (and remember what I said about brands above?) – into something else entirely.

For example, take Reed Richards.

Would he be the same character were he changed into someone who did not possess a prodiguous intellect?

Exactly. He wouldn’t. Reed Richards would cease to be Mr. Fantastic and he would then become something else: Mr. Average.

WHIZ #22
WHIZ Comics #22

You made New 52 Billy Batson a victim of that same crime, DC.

Gone were the core elements of a purely good and selfless boy that Bill Parker and C.C. Beck created together, replaced by the pale, jaded imitation that Geoff Johns created, one with an entirely different set of core characteristics: selfishness, bitterness, and egotism.

Non-endearing traits, in other words.

To put it simply, you made New 52 Billy Batson a jerk. The very concept and qualities that made him special were gone.

Why are those qualities so important? Why are those qualities so special?

Think about it, DC, the world is full of jerks, so when you give a jerk the power of the gods, you say that just about any jerk can be given those powers.

Thus, if Billy Batson is a jerk, what is there to separate him from just about anybody else? What makes him special? What makes him worthy?

Nothing.

Again, think about that, DC, because it then becomes a question of why the powers were not just simply given to someone else who has endured similar, if not greater tragedies as Billy did and retained a purely optimistic perspective in the cruel world around them.

See, DC?

Making Billy Batson a jerk just does not work.

Without that incorruptibility, that selfless wholesomeness, and pure Norman Rockwell-ian goodness, Billy Batson would not be special.

He could not and cannot possibly stand above the rest in being chosen.

Curse of Shazam
Curse of Shazam

This is the flaw that Geoff Johns – and especially you, DC – did not foresee when he made Billy Batson an embittered jerk in the New 52.

Now, I can easily see that when an orphaned young child is kicked out on the street by an uncle who stole his inheritance, that it would be easy for him to become disenfranchised with the world and begin to see it with a jaded, selfish, and hate-filled heart.

That’s so very “modern” and interesting in today’s day and age.

And yes, DC, I get that for some people – which I presume would include you and Johns – they think that being morally wholesome is an outdated notion, a relic of a time past, so in an effort to modernize a character, they change such characters like Billy Batson into hardened, embittered meanies to fit with the times.

By Cameron Stewart
By Cameron Stewart

The problem with that idea is that it is flat out and completely untrue – the notion of moral wholesomeness being outdated, that is.

Being pure in heart is a timeless virtue, one that has been in the stories of our heroes in countless cultures and eras. It still stands strong today because of that, and in no era can it possibly be outdated.

That is why, even today, given the core idea and core template being predicated on Billy Batson having a pure heart, it cannot and does not work to make Billy Batson be a jerk.

Do you get it now, DC?

Don’t get me wrong, Johns is undeniably a good writer and I have nothing against him as a person, but he did a lot of damage to Captain Marvel by removing Billy Batson’s core elements.

Worse, you let him do it.

Fortunately, where your Rebirth is concerned, Johns will not be writing Captain Marvel’s Rebirth book, so that alone gives me hope that under another creator’s care, we just might get a much more holistic treatment of Captain Marvel.

And if we are lucky, you guys will put creators who are not just a tonal fit for Captain Marvel, but understand why we love the character in the first place. (Someone like… Doc Shaner?)

Of course, just making Billy Batson a purely good boy again does not mean he will be perfect.

Perfect would be you granting every single one of the wishes that were expressed above in this letter.

That means that in addition to Billy Batson being pure good, that 1) you go back to calling him Captain Marvel, 2) you stop making Captain Marvel an immature man-child, 3) you give Captain Marvel back his traditional costume, 4) you stop pigeonholing Captain Marvel as “magic guy,” 5) you go back to making his world and stories bright and whimsical again, and 6) you use a different title on the cover besides “Shazam!

As I’ve said above, those should be bare minimum requirements, but I’ll digress, because even if you only give us the pure-hearted Billy Batson that we know and love and nothing else, it will still be FAR better than the counterfeit version of Billy Batson that you gave us in the New 52, and I can live with that.

Just… Get back to what makes Captain Marvel great: A purely good Billy Batson worthy of being chosen to call down the lightning.

Make his lightning mean something again.

That is my ultimate wish. I’ll honestly live with the rest, if I must.

 

Sincerely,

Carl Shinyama

Dany Garcia Discusses The Shazam! Movie

Dany Garcia, one of Dwayne Johnson’s producing partners for Seven Bucks Productions and on the Shazam! movie talked exclusively with NewsWeek, and provided an update on where the movie stands.

She had this to say:

“We’re getting [script] drafts in… it’s important to make sure we get the tone right for Black Adam, which is Dwayne’s part. We don’t mind taking our time. We’re being very careful with each act and scene to go back and layer in as much as possible.”

I find that first part about the script disappointing. It simply means that they are still at basically the same exact point they were at the last time we got an update almost three months ago. In other words, it is a non-update.

While it is important that they take the time they need to get the script and the story right, I was hoping they had moved past that part and got the script finished. After all, it has been two years since Darren Lemke was announced as the writer. The script should be finished by now. Just how much more time do they need? Alas, no deal.

Next, there is another nugget that follows in that statement – a very inconspicuous one: they appear to have what remains a high level of focus on Black Adam. This is cause for concern for Captain Marvel fans, because since the Shazam! movie’s official announcement, there has yet to be repetitive talk of getting anyone other than Black Adam right.

No one outside of Hiram Garcia has yet to talk about getting Billy Batson and Captain Marvel right. What this could imply is that their number one priority all along has been Black Adam, as opposed to who the focus should rightfully be on; Captain Marvel. This does nothing to abate fears that the Shazam! movie will be a vehicle movie for Black Adam. This is something that bears watching very, very closely.

However, Garcia did share a little bit more detail about how the Shazam! movie fits in with the other DC movies from Warner Bros. It’s not exactly a direct confirmation (official statement), but it supports Dwayne Johnson’s statement from last year about the Shazam! movie being planned to be a part of the DCEU, yet quite independent so we can be safe in assuming that the Shazam! movie is actually and officially in the DCEU:

“Shazam! is to live in the same world [as the other films] but we have incredible autonomy over this brand and franchise. We are working with a different team, different producers, directors… it’s a different set-up.

While I prefer otherwise, that is good news for for DCEU fans who want the Shazam! movie to be a part of the DCEU, even as an adjacent world.

Even better is that Garcia reinforces the notion that they have a lot of liberty, free from most bureaucratic pressures by the creative decision-makers on the other side of the DCEU. This suggests there will be little interference from the likes of Zack Snyder or Geoff Johns, who is co-running the DC Films division that is overseeing the long-term direction of the DCEU.

GOOD.

Also interesting to note is that Garcia not only mentions their arrangement will consist of other producers, but other directors. It seems to be spoken in a hypothetical tense, as if it was an indication that they do not yet have an idea who will be the director. If so, it would be quite the indicator of where the movie stands.

Of course, that is not to say that if they do not know who will be the director, it does not mean that they do not have some candidates that they are considering.

Still, we already knew that. There is not much of an update. Except for the part in the interview where Garcia also said basically that she does not feel as if the Shazam! movie getting made will be contingent upon the success or the failure of the other DC films and adds that she thinks it will fit in nicely with the DCEU.

“We don’t feel fettered by, or constrained by, the successes or failures and challenges of the other projects. That was a key component to our participation—that we be able to control the tone and the voice, and do it the way we want to.”

(Good!)

“It needs to be of  the world. You’ve got Justice League, Wonder Woman with a different director, so you’re going to see different points of view. I think by the time we land with [Shazam!] we’ll fit nicely within the world that’s been created, but not such a shorthand relationship. [It’ll be] enough that people say, ‘Oh, this is within the family,’ but the culture will be a little different.”

Well, that is actual news we have not yet heard, and it is good news. Seems like no matter what happens, they are going to proceed with the Shazam! movie.

If the Shazam! movie is to succeed, it will need to be made without bureaucratic interference by people who have a clear vision for their movie and the character and how it fits within the larger DC world. In other words, let your creators create. Let them figure out how to complement a fun and whimsical Captain Marvel into the same world as the grim/dark/depressed one that Superman resides in without shortchanging each character or the work of other creators.

Garcia seems to feel that way, too.

As always, SHAZAM! Until next time, Captain Marvel fans!

Fun News: Brandon Molale Still Wants to Play Captain Marvel in the Shazam! Movie

In what began as a usual Tweet-chain from me, where I expressed that I would still be over the moon if Brandon Molale was cast  as Captain Marvel in the Shazam! movie, the man himself favorited a few of those Tweets.

So I asked him if he still wanted to play the role of Captain Marvel. His response?

Brandon Molale
Brandon Molale

Captain Marvel fans with a long memory will remember that Molale – as well as Dwayne Johnson – was once considered for the role of Captain Marvel in 2007, back when Peter Segal was attached to direct and John August was hired to pen the script. Dwayne Johnson was cast as Black Adam, but the project fell through, so any consideration for Molale in the role of Captain Marvel likely fell through with it.

In addition, when Dwayne Johnson let it be known that he was going to be in the Shazam! movie in the summer of 2014 before he announced (again) that he was going to play Black Adam, Molale campaigned on Twitter and Instagram for the role of Captain Marvel.

At that time, Molale stated that he does not care if being cast as Captain Marvel leads to him being typecast for the rest of his life:

(Would you LOOK at that? Molale looks like an Alex Ross painting come to life!)

I’ll admit:  These days, Lou Ferrigno Jr. has been my top choice for the role of Captain Marvel, but Brandon Molale was my long-time dream choice, and I would be beyond ecstatic if he was cast for the role.

In fact, now that I think about it, given my giddy excitement over Molale’s enthusiasm, he is back to being my top choice. Sorry, Lou!

It really makes me happy that after nine years, Molale still badly wants the role. When you think of Johnson and how lived and breathed the role of Black Adam throughout the years, it is the very much the same with Molale; he has very much wanted to play the Big Red Cheese then and through the following years.

(And Warner Bros., if you do not want him as Captain Marvel in the movie(s), at LEAST cast Molale as the World’s Mightiest Mortal in a TV show. The man has both big screen and small screen credentials. He would be great at it!)

As usual, call down the lightning and post comments below, Captain Marvel fans!

Shazam!

Happy Birthday to C.C. Beck!

230px-C._C._Beck_1982
C.C. Beck

Happy Birthday to Jack Kirby Hall of Famer, Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Famer, and Captain Marvel co-creator C.C. Beck!

Beck joined Fawcett Publications in 1933, where he worked as a staff artist, illustrating their pulp magazines.

In the fall of 1939, when Fawcett decided to get into the new and exciting comic book game, they asked writer and editor Bill Parker, along with Beck, to create a line of characters for them. That fall, they created Captain Thunder, later to be renamed Captain Marvel.

According to C.C. Beck’s testimony in the famous National v Fawcett trial, at one point Captain Thunder was a boy whose alter ego was an adult who possessed a powerful lightning-tipped wand with vast powers. It’s also been said that at one point – I do not know originally by whom – that Captain Thunder was also a character who led a squad of lieutenants, each of whom were gifted the powers of a god.

The concepts for the former were later attributed to other Fawcett characters, Ibis the Invincible, and Spy Smasher, the latter of which Beck also illustrated.

Said Beck of creating Captain Marvel:

When Parker and I went to work on Fawcett’s first comic book in 1939, we both saw how poorly written and illustrated the super-hero comic books were. We decided to give our readers a real comic book, drawn in comic strip style and telling an imaginative story based not on the hackneyed formula of the pulp magazines but going back to the old folk tales and myths of classic times. Captain Marvel’s attributes derived from the powers of five Greek and Roman gods and one Hebrew king, and he was called into being by the use of the magic word “SHAZAM,” not by the putting on or the taking off of a disguise.
Billy Batson was the standard penniless boy hero of all children’s stories; Sivana was the evil sorcerer of folk tales, now wearing a white laboratory jacket instead of a long robe and pointed hat; Shazam was the ancient keeper of hidden lore that has appeared in stories all over the world for thousands of years. I drew Shazam to look like Moses or some other Old Testament figure on purpose, knowing that he would be instantly recognized by readers everywhere as a kindly guardian of mankind.
WHIZ Comics #2:
WHIZ Comics #2

Captain Marvel debuted on newsstands in WHIZ Comics #2 on December 1st, 1939.

Beck later began his own studio in New York in 1941 and continued to illustrate for Fawcett’s comic book division. Beck would be the first and last artist to illustrate Captain Marvel for Fawcett Publications.

When Fawcett settled with National Comics, they agreed to pay a hefty sum to National and agreed to stop publishing Captain Marvel. In addition, they also decided to shut down their comics division due to declining sales.

Beck left the comic book industry after that, but got into commercial art, though he once attempted to do a comic strip with long-time Captain Marvel writer Otto Binder, but was rejected by various publishers.

It would not be until around 1967 that Beck re-entered the comic book industry, where he co-created Fatman the Human Flying Saucer with Binder. When DC Comics licensed Captain Marvel in 1972, they got Beck on board to illustrate Captain Marvel once more. Beck’s run with DC only lasted 10 issues. He left due to “creative differences.”

That would be the last time Beck illustrated Captain Marvel for a publisher.

In his retirement, Beck did some work as the editor of the newsletter of the Fawcett Collectors of America, which to this day, often publishes insightful articles of the World’s Mightiest Mortal.

Beck passed away in 1989.

Thank you, Mr. Beck, for giving us one of the most endearing and enduring characters today.

As always, Shazam!

 

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Geoff Johns: “There Will Be A Shazam Book”

Shazam!! Great news, Captain Marvel fans!

Recently, Geoff Johns spoke with a group of journalists about Rebirth.

One of those journalists asked Johns if Shazam/Captain Marvel among others) was getting his own book (and what the strategy was.

On getting a Shazam book, Johns’ response was:

“There will be a Shazam book. Not by me, but they’re definitely doing a Shazam book.”
Curse of Shazam
Curse of Shazam

Okay, two things. First: We finally have an answer!

We knew based on the DC’s promotional art that Captain Marvel – or rather – New 52 Shazam was almost certainly going to be in the Rebirth universe. We just did not know if he was going to get his own title.

We do now.

DC has predicated their Rebirth universe on the idea of taking the New 52 and getting back to the core of their characters and moving on from there. Essentially, it is Infinity Crisis + New 52.

Despite my disdain for New 52 Shazam, giving up on the character altogether immediately following Darkseid War: Shazam! #1, the idea that DC intends to get back to the core roots of their characters gives me hope that we may see the same being true of Captain Marvel again. Johns’ New 52 Shazam was nothing like the classic Captain Marvel. Speaking of, that brings me to my second observation:

Johns will not be writing Captain Marvel’s Rebirth book.

For long-time Captain Marvel fans such as myself, short of DC reinstating classic Captain Marvel in Rebirth, that is about THE absolute best news we could possibly get.

Let me explain:

WHIZ Comics #2
WHIZ Comics #2

In his Fawcett origins, Billy Batson was chosen and bestowed the powers of gods by the wizard Shazam to be his champion. Despite horrible tragedies and serious misfortune at such a young age, Billy remained selfless, morally wholesome, and incorruptible. This is what made Billy worthy to chosen by the wizard.

That Billy Batson was chosen because he was utterly and purely a good boy with the biggest heart is the core idea and core template of the character. This is what made him worthy of being chosen to transform into an adult superhero by saying a magic word. It’s the ultimate wish fulfillment. It was a winning formula in the 40’s and it still holds mass appeal even in today’s highly cynical world.

Over the decades, that core element about Billy Batson remained largely, if not completely unchanged. Why not? Because when you change the core idea and template of a character, the character becomes an entirely different character. You change the product – the brand, really – into something else entirely.

Take Reed Richards, would he be the same character were he someone who did not possess a prodiguous intellect? That’s right, he would cease to be Mr. Fantastic and become something else: Mr. Average.

New 52 Billy Batson was a victim of that. Gone were the core elements of a purely good and selfless boy that Bill Parker and C.C. Beck created together, replaced by the pale imitation that Johns created, one with an entirely different set of core characteristics: selfishness, bitterness, and egotism. Non-endearing traits.

Put simply, New 52 Billy Batson was a jerk. He no longer had the virtuous and timeless qualities that made him special. The very concept that made him worthy of being chosen to be Captain Marvel was gone.

Think about it. The world is full of jerks, so when you give a jerk the power of the gods, you say that just about any jerk can be given those powers. Thus, if Billy Batson is a jerk, what is there to separate him from just about anybody else? What makes him worthy?

Nothing.

It then becomes a question of why the powers were not just given to someone else who has endured similar, if not greater tragedies and retained a purely optimistic perspective in the cruel world around them.

See? It just does not work. Without that incorruptibility, that selfless wholesomeness and pure Norman Rockwellian goodness, Billy Batson would not be special. He cannot possibly stand above the rest in being chosen.

This is the flaw that Geoff Johns did not foresee when he made Billy Batson an embittered jerk.

Yes, in Johns’ case, I can easily see that when an orphaned young child is kicked out on the street by an uncle who stole his inheritance that it would be easy for him to become disenfranchised with the world and begin to see it with a jaded, selfish, hardened, and hate-filled heart. I even get how that would seem “modern” and interesting to him in today’s day and age.

And yes, I get that for some people, which I presume would include Johns, they think that being morally wholesome is an outdated notion, a relic of a time past, so in an effort to modernize a character, they change such characters like Billy Batson into hardened, embittered meanies to fit with the times.

The problem with that is that it is flat-out untrue. The notion of moral wholesomeness being outdated, that is. Pure-heartedness is a timeless virtue, one that has been in the stories of our heroes in countless cultures and eras. It still stands strong today. In no era can it possibly be outdated.

That is why even today, it cannot and does not work to make Billy Batson be a jerk.

Don’t get me wrong, Johns is undeniably a good writer and I have nothing against him as a person, but he did a lot of damage to Captain Marvel by removing Billy Batson’s core elements.

So knowing that Johns will not be writing the Rebirth Shazam book gives me hope that under another creator’s care, we just might get a much more holistic treatment of Captain Marvel. That is why it is great news for long-time Captain Marvel fans that Johns is not writing his Rebirth book. If we are lucky, DC will put creators who are not just a tonal fit for Captain Marvel, but understands why we love the character in the first place.

Since it is quite likely we will be getting New 52 Shazam, it seems the best-case scenario is that they take him and infuse him with the beloved Fawcett-era core elements of Captain Marvel.

Moving on, Johns also talked about the strategy for the Shazam! Rebirth book:

“One of the reasons they’re double shipping, the advantage to double-ship, is to take the number of titles and contract it, and the number of characters. Get these characters right. Then, slowly, when you’ve made sure everything’s working in a great way, then Shazam comes out. Legion of Super-Heroes comes out. Justice Society comes out. Atom comes out. All the other books can come out. But it’s important to get them done right first. It is hard to launch 52 books, and make them all great. I think it’s better to focus on fewer characters, then expand it as the emotional base is back.”

That makes a lot of sense, and I agree. Start small, get the quality right, and build out from there. This way, it prevents them from making a confused muddle of a mess like they did when they launched the New 52.

It is just better for the long term health of their overall brand.

It is too bad DC does not consider Captain Marvel/Shazam to be a part of their core foundation, but I agree with their approach. When the time comes, they can focus on getting back to the core elements of Captain Marvel.

All in all, I feel optimistic now.

As always, call down the lightning and post in the comments.

Shazam!!

 

A Shazam! Movie Update: The Case of a Relative Non-Update and Nuggets

Earlier today, Hiram Garcia, the co-producer on the Shazam! movie, spoke with ComicBook.com about where they are at with the movie’s progress.

And what is the the status? According to Garcia, they are currently:

“… a good way into development. We’re expecting a next draft soon which I think is really gonna put us in the zone that we’re hoping for.”
Producer Hiram Garcia, Director Brad Peyton and Producer Beau Flynn seen at New Line Cinema presents the Los Angeles World Premiere of "San Andreas" at TCL Chinese Theatre on Tuesday, May 26, 2015, in Hollywood, CA. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Warner Bros./AP Images)
Hiram Garcia. Photo by Eric Charbonneau

For those who may not have been following the Shazam! movie’s journey closely, that would sound like good news. Well, to some degree that is true; the movie is still on track to being made, and it sounds like they may be nearly done with the script, and that is good news.

However, for those who have followed the movie closely, they would know that the status of the movie has not changed; the Shazam! movie has been in development since around 2003, and the movie has had many writers and drafts of their scripts since then.

That, and it was not different from the update that Umberto Gonzalez’s un-sourced update from last month where he said essentially the same thing.

So to call it an update is a little misleading.

Still, Garcia gave us a lot of little nuggets in his in his interview that we can glean a lot of information from.

For starters, Garcia talked a little bit about how Kingdom Come changed his perception of Captain Marvel:

“The great thing with Shazam for me as a fan, I was always a fan of Superman and his mythology as I grew up. I remember it was Alex Ross’s Kingdom Come that was the first time that ever made me look at Shazam just differently. I just knew of Shazam, you know the name, you knew the word, but I thought Alex Ross… He portrayed him and drew him in that epic kind of conflict that him and Superman ultimately had. It just made me look at Shazam in way like this is a bad motherf***er.”
Kingdom Come
Kingdom Come

Two things: the first is that Kingdom Come made him consider Captain Marvel as a “bad motherf—er.”

For those like myself who prefer the Fawcett-style charms of the character, we know that “bad motherf—er” is far from being an accurate descriptor of Captain Marvel when it comes to the core idea and core template of the character. Such a description is alarming. It shows a possible indication that Garcia does not quite understand the character. For instance, in Kingdom Come, Captain Marvel gave his life because he saw choosing between humans and meta-humans was a false divide; the only correct choice was both. Only someone who is an optimist makes that choice.

And Captain Marvel is pure optimism. Purely optimistic characters are not “bad motherf—ers.”

Worse, Garcia appears to imply that he did not think much of classic Captain Marvel until Kingdom Come, which is worrying because if that is true, it would indicate that Garcia thinks that classic Captain Marvel might have been lame until that point, as if he did not see Captain Marvel as legitimate until then.

If so, it is entirely possible that he would only want to portray Captain Marvel in a way that speaks to him that does not appear lame, as opposed to the version that people know and love.

And that… worries me, because people who do such a thing, like Zack Snyder a la Superman, enter dangerous waters, critically speaking and they care not for the holistic approach to the characters. If there is any one character above all who not only deserves the holistic approach, but requires and depends on the holistic approach, it is Captain Marvel.

Captain Marvel as he is portray in Thunderworld, and Convergence: Shazam! compared to his New 52 counterpart is proof of that. The former is universally praised and acclaimed, while the other still remains as highly divisive. Guess which one is New Line Cinema’s best bet to success?

Of course, I could be misreading his comments and overblowing this out of context. For all I know, Garcia may understand the character’s core. In fact, Garcia could be exaggerating the contextuality of his words where to him, someone who sacrifices his life is a “bad motherf—er.”

(I will talk about that a little further below. For now, let us address the other nuggets in the above statement.)

By Alex Ross
By Alex Ross

Secondly, note that despite the fact that the character was called Captain Marvel in Kingdom Come, Garcia called him Shazam. That points to Garcia and Co. calling him Shazam in the movie.

I did not have much hope that they were going to call him Captain Marvel in the movie, given that DC Comics called him Shazam in their New 52 and have done so in Injustice, despite still using the Captain Marvel moniker in Thunderworld, Convergence: Shazam!, and the recently released Scooby Doo Team-Up! #16.

I especially lost hope that they were ever going to call him Captain Marvel in the movie when Geoff Johns was announced as the co-runner of the newly created DC Films department of Warner Bros. For those that do not know, it was Geoff Johns who decided to change Captain Marvel’s name to Shazam in the New 52 primarily because, “everybody thinks he’s called Shazam already, outside of comics.”

I do not know how much influence the DC Films will have over the Shazam! movie, but if Johns is around and has any say, you can bet the Captain Marvel moniker is gone.

Before I go further, let me get this off my chest: Calling him Shazam is killing the character, for reasons I will not list here. For some insight as to why I feel that way, refer to my earlier article, Why I call Him Captain Marvel, Not Shazam.

Moving on, Garcia talks about their tone and what they have in Captain Marvel:

“Our take on that world is first and foremost, movies like that can be grounded and can have real stakes but can still be fun. That’s the place we always want it to come from. We have a character in Shazam that is a boy who is in this man’s body who is having the ultimate fulfillment that I think all comic book fans and everyone can associate with. Like, what if you wake up one day and you can just do all this great stuff? And then on the other side, you have this force of nature who is really anchored by what he lost in his family and that thread that he’s bringing with him throughout this journey. There’s a real grounding there. That combination of youth and enthusiasm and being in new to a world and then the place that Adam’s coming from. It makes for a great dynamic that not only allows us to have not only real stakes, real story, and real emotion, but a ton of fun in the process. There’s no reason that there should ever be a version of this story told that’s devoid of that. That’s our goal in doing this: following the path of the films that have been coming out and have done such a good job.”

There’s a few things to glean from that. Positive ones. Let us start with the fact that like everyone from Toby Emmerich and Dwayne Johnson has been saying since 2014 when the movie was formally announced, Garcia said that the movie was going to be grounded, but fun.

Good.

If there’s been one underlying tonal trait to Captain Marvel’s greatest success in his entire mythology, it is that his stories and his world are whimsical. Whimsical and fun.

I am glad that Garcia and Co. sees this.

JLA: Secret Origins
JLA: Secret Origins

Next is another very encouraging statement; Garcia basically says that Captain Marvel is a boy who is the ultimate embodiment of wish fulfillment. By acknowledging that, they show that they understand that wish fulfillment is the very thing that makes Captain Marvel so appealing.

So back to the description of Captain Marvel as a “bad motherf—er,” perhaps the concern above about that is a non-matter. We will have to see. The statement about having a fun tone and wish fulfillment above does give me reason to hope.

Following that, we see where Garcia and Co. want to ground their story: The loss of Billy’s family. It sounds like they may be aiming for either a coming-of-age or a rags-to-riches type of story. Or perhaps they are aiming for both. If so, all are as good a place to start as any, given that we see Billy start from nothing when he became Captain Marvel to become a radio celebrity able to provide for himself.

Lastly, on a slightly different note, I think one takeaway from that statement – the part about Captain Marvel being a boy in a man’s body – is that we can likely expect to see Captain Marvel portrayed from Billy’s point of view. I just hope that they treat that with respect. I do not want to see an immature man-child, not when Billy Batson is inherently mature for a kid his age, and not when he has the Wisdom of Solomon at his disposal in his super-powered form.

Returning to the movie’s tone, Garcia mentioned the source of their inspiration; the Marvel Cinematic Universe:

“Marvel has, everyone knows, really locked into that place where they’re able to tell you really grounded, rooted stories that have real repercussions and there’s a real wake that’s left after what’s done but while through the whole process they still acknowledge that, you have a blast while you’re watching that. They find the moments where you’re constantly having fun and you’re able to go on the ride and that’s the place we’re gonna be playing in”

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As someone who is a big fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that is a most excellent piece of news, and the only real one in the so-called update.

Marvel Studios consistently puts out superhero movies that are both critical and commercial successes. So much so that they are the most trusted brand in Hollywood.

Captain America: Civil War just became Marvel Studios’ fourth movie to earn more than $1 billion in the global box office. To put that in context, no other studio has ever earned that much with a superhero franchise.

A big reason for Marvel Studios’ success is that they believe that if there is any ‘secret’ to making superhero movies, it is that you need to not just respect the source material, but also understand the source material. From there, any adaptation you make from the source material should be done only to enhance whatever the original pure spirit of the source material was.

That, and they operate under a very clear vision for their interconnected superhero universe.

Also encouraging is that Garcia cares about getting it right with the Shazam! movie and that he has a very clear vision for the story and the movie:

“I promise you dude, we’re not gonna f*** this up! My vision is so clear for this story and this movie. As story tellers, you sometimes get on projects but this has always been a priority. I’ve been carrying the Black Adam torch for so many years before we finally locked it in and I’m telling you we’re gonna knock this thing out of the park. It’s gonna be a blast and it’s gonna be a dope ride, so get ready!”

To see that enthusiasm and the fact that it appears that Garcia and Co. will draw on the important lessons from Marvel Studios’ success and incorporate them into the Shazam! movie is highly encouraging, especially since Marvel Studios’ brand of fun is well, fun.

Now on the important questions as we move forward, Garcia was asked about the Johnson’s promise last year about the Shazam! movie being pushed up ahead of its April 5th, 2019 release date.

He had this to say:

“I think there’s projects that are so strong and so powerful that they have what I like to call the Moses effect where the seas part and they rise to the top. I always considered [Shazam!] of those projects. When this project is ready to go it will definitely be a sea parter where it rises to the top.
“It’s on us. We don’t want to rush the process. It’s a priority to get it right but once it’s right, it’s gonna be hard to hold it back.”

That sounds reassuring. It supports Johnson’s statements last year, and it looks like we can reasonably expect the movie to be prioritized for an earlier release. Whether it does or not remains to be seen, but it does give reason to hope.

If so, that means we should definitely expect true updates within the next year or so.

Speaking of, the other important question – the one that is on everyone’s mind – who will play Captain Marvel? On the casting of Captain Marvel, Garcia said there has been none (yet):

“We kind of float some names around but nothing is locked in. Right now, the focus, the sole focus is getting the story right. Getting the story really, really good and then the rest will be able to fall in line.”

If they really are close to a finished script as mentioned earlier, then it sounds like we should expect to hear casting news very soon, especially if it sounds like the Shazam! has a reasonable chance of being released earlier than it was scheduled to.

As always, call down the lightning, and post your comments and thoughts below.

Shazam!