Same Name, Different Company: Captain Marvel
Start writing a post

Same Name, Different Company: Captain Marvel

Since World War II, two major superheroes have used the name "Captain Marvel" - but they aren't the same hero or publisher.

Same Name, Different Company: Captain Marvel
Alex Ross/DC Comics

If you've been online or are aware of upcoming movies, you've probably heard about Captain Marvel and Shazam, two superhero movies due for release in 2019. Both films have been in development for a few years now, though as with most major superhero movies, the characters have been around for a lot longer. Marvel and DC Comics have both been publishing stories involving a “Captain Marvel” since the 1960s (the DC incarnation being around for even longer before being revived), yet the two companies follow different characters with little similarities beyond the name. Over time, both companies have made their versions well-known, whether in modern day or years ago, the name “Captain Marvel” has been such a big part of culture that the Beatles even mentioned him in one song. So with that in mind, how have the two biggest rivals in the industry been able to keep releasing comics with the same name?

The original Captain Marvel was originally published by Fawcett Comics during World War II. At the time, the comic industry involved several companies, all making their titles and doing everything in their power to outsell the others, no matter what it takes or who gets the worst deal (Bill Finger, Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, etc.). Fawcett's character was essentially a rip-off of Superman – bright costume, had most of the same powers, fought evil scientists and Nazis, nothing unlike a war-era Action Comics issue. Captain Marvel was the superhero name for the transformed Billy Batson, a kid who upon saying “Shazam!” would turn into an adult with the powers of Greek gods. He was the first superhero to be adapted to film – a popular movie serial that predated the infamous Batman serial, and if considering sales alone, Captain Marvel was more popular than Superman at the time. As the character became more and more popular, Detective Comics (later National, later DC), noted the character's similarities to Superman, and brought Fawcett to court on copyright infringement. It should be noted that when testing names for the flagship Captain Marvel title, Flash Comics was suggested but unable to be sold due to National publishing their own Flash Comics series (Fawcett went with Whiz Comics). The lawsuit was stuck in litigation for years until finally being brought before a judge in 1948. By 1951, it was ruled in favor of Fawcett, as DC had accidentally let Superman newspaper strips go into public domain, thus making the powerset public. This didn't exactly work out well for the company though, and due to the costs of the case and a changing readership, Fawcett went under in the 1953 before Silver Age. Another hearing was held, and while the new judge ruled that the concept was not infringement, certain individual stories were – and the company settled, and sold off the rights. DC bought the rights to several characters, including the Captain Marvel family of heroes.

For Marvel, the 1960s was their most creative and popular era. Within the decade, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Spider-Man, the Avengers, Doctor Strange, and Black Panther had all quickly risen to the top of culture – hippies even used the Doctor Strange image in artwork. As their name was also an adjective, it was only a matter of time before they named a character after the company. December 1967 introduced us to another Captain Marvel – this time, an alien general named Mar-Vell (it's comics, just roll with it). His stories were more space-faring, involving the Kree and Skrull empires, as well as bringing him to Earth to fight alongside the Avengers. Of course, one may ask how Marvel was able to publish a title that their competitor owned – but the copyright for the title Captain Marvel had expired, which gave Marvel the legal means to give Mar-Vell a solo series. DC was not publishing any of their Marvel Family titles at the time, so if it went to court once again, it would be likely that DC would loose the fight. Rather, DC ended up letting Marvel continue to publish their self-titled series, and during the 1970s when they finally revived the original Captain Marvel, the comics were released under the name “Shazam” - as was all related media, including the 70s live action televisions series. At first, the comic was subtitled “The Original Captain Marvel,” but this was quickly dropped when Marvel threatened a lawsuit. Despite the relatively popular revival, the Fawcett Marvel Family was kept in a separate universe from the main DC one, as to allow more freedom and prevent the need for a reboot (this changed with Crisis on Infinite Earths). Recently, the DC character was completely renamed to “Shazam,” as was the movie that is still in production.

Now, the two characters are about as far from each other as possible. Mar-Vell was killed off in the Bronze Age of Comics and several successors took the mantle. The current Marvel Captain Marvel is the former Ms. Marvel Carol Danvers, and since taking the mantle in 2012, she has become one of Marvel's top selling titles. Meanwhile, Shazam and the Marvel Family are doing alright, but nowhere near the early days. Even though Carol Danvers will be getting a movie adaptation first, with the name and the impact of the first female led Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, the original DC/Fawcett Captain Marvel has the larger cultural impact. Elvis Presley was a big fan of the comics, and his hairstyle and famous white costume were inspired by Captain Marvel Jr. (essentially their take on Superboy/Robin). With both companies preparing to release major motion pictures based on their very different heroes, it will be interesting to see which Captain Marvel resonates the most with the mainstream audience. Granted, it'll probably be the Marvel one, but hey, Wonder Woman surprised us. Maybe DC will pull through, and we'll see a Shazam revival in the pop culture. Really, only time will tell. But this time, DC is not using the name, so Marvel can keep the brand recognition, and nobody will get confused between the two. Unlike the MCU timeline, but that's a different story for another time.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

10 Songs That Made It Onto My September Playlist

September is the month for Los Angeles natives and Australian music fans.


The Neighbourhood, Bad Suns and The Driver Era are three Los Angeles bands that released songs this month. Not only was it a month for Los Angeles bands, but many Australian bands released new music — San Cisco's fourth studio album, Surf Trash single, Skegss single, and High Tropics single. I made new discoveries this month and was pleased by the amount of new music.

Read the listicle below to learn what came out this month in alternative rock music:

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

7 Things Your Partner Can Do To Support You When You Have PCOS

Don't be afraid to ask for help or comfort if you need it.


Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) may not be totally visible to the eye, which makes it a lot harder for your partner to understand what's going on with your body.

If you are in a relationship, it's important that you communicate your PCOS symptoms with your partner. I say "your" symptoms specifically because everyone's symptoms are different.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Watched 'The Social Dilemma' And YIKES, I'm Terrified For The Next Generation's Mental Health

Millennials can remember a time without online social affirmation, but we may be the last ones.

The Social Dilemma / Netflix

I've been in a media job for the entirety of my professional career. From part-time social media internships to full-time editorial work, I've continued to learn how to tell stories, write catchy headlines, and keep people interested. I believe working in media is a big responsibility, as well as a valuable way to advance our world.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

One Indictment, Three Charges, And No Justice For Breonna Taylor

We can't settle for this decision or a system that is fundamentally broken and unequal.


On March 13, 26-year-old Breonna Taylor was fatally shot in her apartment by police who were executing a "no-knock" warrant. Since then, there have been rallying efforts both in the streets and on social media demanding justice for Taylor and keeping her name known.

Keep Reading... Show less

I’m OK With Hooking Up On The First Date, But That DOESN'T Make Me Easy

2020 has been a crazy year. And yet, women being comfortable with our bodies still seems to be a big topic in mass media.


I'm an adult. There is no reason I can't have consensual sex with someone on the first date. It does NOT make me easy, and it does not mean I'll have sex with just anyone the first time I meet them.

Keep Reading... Show less

I was so excited to vote in my local primary election in August. I eagerly researched my local candidates, combed the newspaper for profiles and policy positions, and shared infographics on Insta about voting deadlines. I considered myself a keen voter.

Keep Reading... Show less

Nothing! There is no reason to feel guilty about food and nourishing your body. It's time to make peace with food and stop focusing on the "good" or "bad," "right" or "wrong" because food does not have power over you.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Sat Down With An Endocrinologist To Ask All My Questions About Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

There are so many moving parts of hormonal health, so I went to an expert.

Anjanette Tan

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is an autoimmune disease that impacts approximately 1 in 10 women. Any woman who has PCOS can attest to the fact that no two cases are the same — there are so many aspects of hormonal health that can impact a woman's reproductive health! For many, PCOS is a trial and error condition, with many doctors' appointments depending on the stage of life the woman is in.

This week I sat down with Dr. Anjanette Tan to get the expert opinion on all my PCOS questions. Dr. Tan is a board-certified endocrinologist who's worked in private practices since 2004. She currently works at the Diabetes and Thyroid Center of Fort Worth, one of the largest all-endocrine practices in the area, where she is the managing partner and head of clinical research.

Keep Reading... Show less

This $40 Silk Sleep Mask Gives Me The Best Sleep I've Ever Had — I Never Go Anywhere Without It

Crane And Canopy just redefined the meaning of "beauty sleep".


- Since I can remember, I've always been a light sleeper, with the quietest sounds waking me up, and I regularly wake up with the sun.

- While talking to a gynecologist friend of mine, she mentioned the importance of using an eye mask for quality sleep, which regulates hormonal levels.

- I was serendipitously sent the Crane & Canopy Silk Sleep Mask almost right after that conversation and was honestly reluctant to try it after testing other sleep masks that felt uncomfortable and irritated my skin.

- This sleep mask was extremely comfortable, and for the first time in nearly a decade, I slept in far past when I usually do on the weekends and woke up feeling more refreshed than I can remember — I've worn it nearly every night since then.

The older I get, it seems that sleep becomes an increasingly important topic of conversation amongst my friends and me. Yes, of course we complain about how tired we always are, but the pattern seemed to be a lack of sleep on the weekdays followed by late nights and sleeping in on the weekends without any solution.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

The Self-Care Kit Every College Student Should Have Handy In 2020

Make sure you have everything you need to relieve some tension.


As college students, sometimes life can be overwhelming. Four tests in a week and you only passed one of them? I feel that. Days like that, you just need time for yourself. A time where you're nice to yourself and put your own self-care before anything else.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments