Will Captain Marvel Make it to the Big Screen?


If you think its hard getting a Superman film to the big screen, have some sympathy for the team behind the proposed “Shazam!” film. New Line Cinema began development of a live action “Shazam!” film nearly 10 years ago with screenplays from William Goldman and Bryan Golubuff. Then John August took over writing duties, with Peter Segal attached as director. They even had Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in negotiations to appear as Black Adam, our hero’s arch nemesis.

When New Line Cinema became part of Warner Bros, the studio, following the success of “The Dark Knight” and the commercial failure of family-friendly “Speed Racer,” wanted to take the story down a more serious, darker path.

The project is currently in development with Bill Birch and comic book writing legend Geoff Johns attached to pen the screenplay. Peter Segal is still attached as director.

For those of you thinking “Who the Shazam! are you on about?” the comic book character first appeared in “Whiz Comics” #2 in 1940. Shazam! is actually a misnomer. The hero’s name is Captain Marvel, but due to legal wranglings with Marvel Comics over the use of the name, the Captain Marvel comics can only be published and sold as “Shazam!”

“Shazam!” incidentally is the word that 12-year old Billy Batson has to speak to become his alter ego, Captain Marvel. Shazam is also the name of the wizard who grants Billy the ability to transform into the hero. But I fear I may be losing you at this point …

The question is: Can this property really make it to the big screen? Geoff Johns being on board certainly ups its chances phenomenally, but it still has a vast mountain to climb. I fear I may incur the wrath of Captain Marvel’s most loyal fans but … the guy is seriously outdated. Everything about him just screams “camp.” And that’s coming from a Superman fanboy.

Captain Marvel’s outfit would need to be modernized drastically. And in so many DC adaptations of late onscreen, Captain Marvel is portrayed as a mindless drone who is usually positioned into place just to have an “epic” smackdown with the original Captain Marvel — Superman.

The big issue is the fact they may be trying to go “The Dark Knight” route now with a darker tone. Seriously? Does anyone see Captain Marvel being dark? The story is pure wish fulfilment: 12 year old boy utters a magic word and –ahem- Shazam! he’s a superhero! If this film is going to work it needs to be directly squarely at the kids.

The “adult” comic-book fans will still enjoy it, but if WB doggedly keep trying to recreate the success of “The Dark Knight” regardless of the franchise, “Shazam!” will never see the light of day.

(Captain Marvel illustrations by Alex Ross.)

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5 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. Cam Smith #

    Such a hokey character. DC needs to get off their collective asses and start banging together film adaptations of their less campy heroes, such as Flash, Hawkman or Green Arrow. Heck, even Aquaman would be cooler, and they could beat Marvel’s Sub-mariner to the punch.

  2. 2

    Warner Bros. has a lot of great heroes they could make movies out of, but they always just drag their feet.

  3. moviefan #

    i was reading a new interview with bill birch and he said they were not going to go dark knight dark and gritty for the character. He and johns is going to honnor the source material. He did say they are looking at the film to be pg 13 and all that. I am curious to see if it will actually get into production stage this time or not. I may not know much on most dc comics characters. But i hope for the best and hope to see more make it on the big screen. Right now we got jonah hex and the losers for next summer. Then green lantern going into production soon for 2011 release. Then after that nothing is for sure yet. So i hope guys like shazam/flash and a few others may finally be the next ones to get going.

  4. 4

    Yeah, I read that too. But I wouldn’t under estimate how much WB themselves will change or affect the screenplay before it goes in front of the cameras.

  5. Josue #

    I am a huge fan!! this would make me on happy camper!! please please! happen!

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