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Why The Original Captain Marvel Is Now Called Shazam

Why Two Captain Marvel Movies Are Releasing Within A Month Of Each Other

All this brings us to the amusingly ironic twist; that Captain Marvel and Shazam! are hitting the big screen at the same time. In truth, this is just a matter of historical coincidence, as both films have been in the works for years.

Related: Who Are The Shazam Family? DC’s New Movie Team Explained

New Line Cinema began work on a Shazam! movie in the early 2000s and the film actually went into pre-production as an action comedy back in 2008, but hit problems when DC wanted it to be made darker after the success of The Dark Knight and the commercial failure of the more humorous Speed Racer. Meanwhile, Marvel Comics first began toying with the idea of a film starring Carol Danvers as far back as 2013, only shortly after she renamed from Ms. Marvel. It took time, but they were won over when Kelly Sue DeConnick relaunched the character as Captain Marvel in 2014, and her comic book run has heavily influenced the film.

The two movies weren't originally intended to release quite so close to one another, either. DC initially set a tentative July 2016 release date for Shazam!, but it wound up pushed back while they decided on the direction of the film and how it fitted into the DCEU. The release date was only officially announced in January 2018. Meanwhile, when Marvel originally announced their Phase 3 slateCaptain Marvel was given a release date of July 6, 2018; it was then pushed back to November 2, and finally - as a result of a major change to the Phase 3 plans after their Spider-Man deal - to March 2019.

How Shazam & Captain Marvel Influence Each Other

DC's Shazam and Marvel's Captain Marvel Carol Danvers

Marvel and DC have traditionally been wary of playing these two franchises off against each other - they didn't even cross paths in the 1990s DC Versus Marvel miniseries, where Shazam instead dueled Thor - but there are signs they've been relaxing a little in recent years. Last year's Infinity Countdown Prime #1, by Gerry Duggan and Mike Deodato, Jr., featured a scene in which Carol Danvers glimpsed alternate-universe versions of herself. Although it was easy to miss, tucked away mostly off panel, there was a very familiar costume. It clearly implied that Billy Batson's Shazam is indeed an alternate-universe Captain Marvel.

Don't expect anything quite so explicit in Shazam!, of course. There will, however, be at least one subtle nod. The Shazam! trailers have already featured an amusing Captain Marvel joke, with Billy Batson's friend Freddy giving him the hilarious codename "Captain Sparklefingers." Needless to say, Billy isn't impressed, not least because Freddy's just said that to an attractive girl. But there's another layer of humor to that scene, one that only comic book readers will have picked up on. Back in the Kelly Sue DeConnick run of Marvel's Captain Marvel, there was actually a scene where one of Carol Danvers' old friends called her "Princess Sparklefists." That quip has even been incorporated into the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe, with an official MCU tie-in novel - Steve Behling's Starforce on the Rise - revealing that Carol was nicknamed "Sparklefists" by one of her fellow Starforce members.

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The net gain from the two Captain Marvels is, ultimately, a positive one. 2019 will see the launch of two major new superhero franchises, inspired by popular comics with decades' worth of history behind them. In the case of Shazam!, the character may not be known as Captain Marvel anymore, but all the signs are that he's going to be just as much a hit as Carol Danvers.

More: Read Our Shazam! Review

Key Release Dates
  • Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
  • Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
  • Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) release date: Feb 07, 2020
  • Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
  • DC Super Pets (2022) release date: May 20, 2022
  • The Batman (2021) release date: Jun 25, 2021
  • The Suicide Squad (2021) release date: Aug 06, 2021
  • Aquaman 2 (2022) release date: Dec 16, 2022
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