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Who Is Dr. Sivana? Shazam's Villain Explained

Shazam Captain Marvel Dr. Sivana Golden Age Comics

Dr. Sivana In the Shazam Comics

First appearing in Whiz Comics #2 in December 1939, Dr. Thaddeus Bodog Sivana was set up to be Captain Marvel's nemesis from the very beginning. The characters were a prime example of the dichotomy of heroes and villains complementing each other, which formed the backbone of Mr. Glass' theories in the movie Unbreakable. Dr. Sivana was as cruel and vindictive as Billy Batson was compassionate and noble-hearted. Dr. Sivana was also small and weak but brilliant, whereas Shazam was tall and strong but easily tricked despite the Wisdom of Solomon.

Originally born in 1892, Dr. Sivana was a genius, far ahead of his time. Mocked for his progressive ideas on revolutionizing society through science and accused of faking many of the fantastic devices he invented, Dr. Sivana packed up his family into an experimental spaceship of his own design, and moved to Venus to await the day when mankind would be more receptive of his ideas. However, the time in exile embittered Dr. Sivana, and when he returned to Earth he decided that would seek revenge upon the world that mocked him and prove his superiority by conquering it. Naturally, his schemes were always thwarted by Shazam, driving Dr. Sivana to the point of obsession with the do-gooder who opposed him.

Related: Shazam's After-Credits Scenes Explained

Various retcons have established Dr. Sivana as Billy Batson's step-uncle or as a businessman/scientist in the mold of the modern Lex Luthor, whose ruined fortunes he blamed on Shazam. They have also changed the number of children he had and whether or not he was widowed or divorced. Generally, he is said to have four children by two different wives. His eldest daughter, Beautia, is as kind-hearted as she is beautiful and his eldest son Magnificus is almost as strong as Shazam. His younger children from his second marriage, Georgia and Thaddeus Jr., inherited his intelligence, his looks and his capacity for evil.

Strangely enough, the 2013 revamp of Dr. Sivana for the New 52 DC Comics universe changed all of this substantially. The new Dr. Sivana was still a skilled and respected scientist but a phenomenally fit man for his age. He was also said to have begun researching magic and the tomb of the legendary hero called Black Adam hoping to find a way to use magic to save his family from an unspecified plight that his science could not cure. His efforts left him scarred, but also able to see magic through his left eye. This new magical power took its toll upon him over the course of the first Shazam! mini-series however, and he had begun to resemble the shrunken, wizened character from the classic comics by the final issue's end.

Other Villains In The Shazam Movie

When it was first said that Dr. Sivana would be the chief villain of Shazam! it was assumed this meant that other villains would also be a part of the movie. That ended up becoming reality with the inclusion of the Seven Deadly Sins - a septet of demons who embody the forces of Sloth, Wrath, Envy, Gluttony, Pride, Lust, and Greed. This seemed likely from the start given that the Seven Deadly Sins appeared in a supporting role in the 2013 Shazam! miniseries, which inspired the movie script. Initially imprisoned within the Rock of Eternity, the Seven Deadly Sins escaped and took possession of Dr. Sivana, and the Wizard required a new champion - Billy Batson - to recapture them.

The one villain that comic book fans wanted to see in the Shazam! movie was Black Adam, but, unfortunately, DC always wanted Dr. Sivana to be Billy Batson's first villain before ultimately pitting one champion against another. A one-time champion of the Wizard who empowered Billy Batson, Black Adam became corrupted by his power and was sealed away where he could do no harm, though he later escaped and sought revenge upon the Wizard. The modern version of the character was reimagined as a brutal anti-hero, noble in intent but militant in his treatment of evil-doers. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has been cast as Black Adam, with a solo movie in development. Interestingly, if viewers look closely, they can see a silhouette of Black Adam when the Wizard explains the history of the Rock of Eternity and the champions to Billy Batson. This sequence might become the backbone for the character's upcoming movie.

But while Black Adam didn't appear in Shazam!, despite longtime fans wanting to finally see Johnson in the DCEU, the movie, thankfully, succeeded quite well without him. Dr. Sivana and the Seven Deadly Sins were more than enough to test Billy Batson in his first cinematic outing. In fact, with Dr. Sivana having been built up to have Black Adam's strength in many regards, he proved to be even bigger match for the young hero than previously thought. Yet the greatest challenge Shazam may face has yet to come - with Black Adam.

More: Everything We Know About Shazam 2

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
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