Zachary Levi isn't technically wrong in referring to DC's Shazam! as the original Captain Marvel, and James Gunn wants people to know that. Following Zack Snyder's Justice League and James Wan's Aquaman, the next DC Comics movie slated to enter production (as part of DC's ongoing cinematic universe) is David F. Sandberg's Shazam!, starring Levi as the eponymous character.
Warner Bros. confirmed Levi's casting earlier this week, and the actor has been identifying his character as Captain Marvel ever since, which some regard as an insult to Marvel Entertainment considering that they have their own Captain Marvel (played by Brie Larsson in the MCU). Gunn - who's most well-known for directing 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy and 2017's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 for Marvel Studios - is trying to assure that fans that Levi's comments are factually true. The filmmaker recently attempted to bridge the divide between DC and Marvel fans on Twitter, and it seems he's back it with yet another tweet.
Gunn commented on Twitter today that Levi is correct in referring to his character Shazam as the original Captain Marvel, and that fan sites who are calling him out on insulting Marvel Studios - a company he previously worked with on Alan Taylor's Thor: The Dark World and Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok as the character Fandral - are actually the ones in the wrong. Take a look:
Fan sites: @ZacharyLevi calling Shazam “the original Captain Marvel” is not throwing shade at Marvel. He IS the original Captain Marvel.
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) November 1, 2017
Billy Batson, aka Shazam, was created by Bill Parker and C.C. Beck for Fawcett Comics in 1939. The character first appeared in Whiz Comics #2 (cover-dated February 1940) as the original Captain Marvel, and he sported the name until DC Comics sued Fawcett Comics into oblivion for ripping off Superman. The publisher ultimately closed in 1953. DC eventually licensed (and later acquired) Fawcett's intellectual property in 1972, including Captain Marvel, but by that time, Marvel Comics had created their own Captain Marvel and they were quick to trademark the name. And so, DC wasn't legally allowed to use the name Captain Marvel anymore. Therefore, they started marketing the character as Shazam.
For those that don't know, Billy was imbued with the powers of six deities - Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury - and he taps into their powers by exclaiming the magic word "Shazam!," thus transforming into the superhero Captain Marvel. Changing the name to Shazam was the most logical choice considering that some people had already taken to referring to the character by that name, but it doesn't disregard the fact that he was the original Captain Marvel.
Source: James Gunn
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Cyborg (2020) release date: Apr 03, 2020
- Justice League (2017) release date: Nov 17, 2017
- Green Lantern Corps. (2020) release date: Jul 24, 2020
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019