Shazam in Animation: A Retrospective

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RoyalRubble

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With Captain Marvel Shazam all set to make his live-action debut on the big screens this week, I figured this would be a good time to look back on his previous animated appearances. Shazam had a pretty good career as far as animation goes - from his humble debut in the early 80s on The Kid Super Power Hour with Shazam!, briefly passing through the DCAU and anything else in-between, until today when he's part of on-going shows like Young Justice or the DC Universe Original Animated Movies line.

This retrospective will try to run through each of his more notable appearances, as well as occasionally focus on his supporting cast of characters - either the rest of the Shazam Family, or his enemies. Just for fun, some alternate versions of these characters will also be included, when necessary. Also note that I will switch from calling him either Captain Marvel or Shazam occasionally. It might get confusing at times, but I think people reading this will be able to understand what I am talking about. While these articles may not be as detailed or well-written as some of my previous retrospectives (due to various reasons, including but not limited to time constraints), I hope you will still enjoy reading through them. And keep in mind these are just my opinions. Feel free to share your own thoughts, comments or even point out any possible errors in my write-ups below! Updates will be posted weekly, if everything goes well. I must admit I am a little behind on this, as I have not yet finished writing this retrospective at the moment, so there might be a break after a few articles. Most of the images seen in this thread are courtesy of The World's Finest.


Captain Marvel made his debut in 1939, and was created by artist C. C. Beck and writer Bill Parker. He first appeared in the pages of Whiz Comics #2, published by Fawcett Comics. His publication history is kind of interesting, as the company was sued by DC Comics for copyright infringement, because of the similarities between Captain Marvel and a certain Superman character that was also appearing in comics at the time. By 1972, DC Comics purchased the rights to Captain Marvel (as well as a bunch of other Fawcett titles) and resumed publishing his stories, now also set within the same DC Universe as most of their other titles. In another fun turn of events, the characters' name was changed by DC in 2011, when they relaunched his comic series. He's now known as Shazam, to avoid confusion with the character(s) Marvel Comics owns.

As for the character's fictional background, well basically he's a kid - Billy Batson - who is granted superhuman powers by an old Wizard. He can access these powers by saying the magic word "SHAZAM", which is an acronym of the six gods he gets his powers from. These usually are listed as being the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles and the speed of Mercury (but some variations might have occurred throughout the years). Despite having the body of an adult, Billy is still just a kid and as such he usually tries having fun while being a hero. He learns lessons from most of his adventures and does develop into a better person, slowly but surely.

His supporting cast includes his family - his sister, Mary Batson who also becomes Mary Marvel with a similar set-up as Billy, or his friend Freddy Freeman, a.k.a. Captain Marvel Jr. (who notably remains a teenager when transformed). Other note worthy characters would include the Wizard Shazam, who granted them these powers, Uncle Dudley (who does not actually have any powers) or Tawky Tawny (a talking tiger, a pretty normal concept as far as comics go). In more recent times, other characters were included, such as Billy's foster siblings, with whom he shares his powers.

After Billy Batson made a quick cameo in an episode of Superman: The Animated Series ("Obsession", from 1998) Captain Marvel made his proper debut in modern animation in 2005, during Justice League Unlimited. This series was a sequel to the Justice League cartoon that aired on the Cartoon Network. Unlimited lasted for 3 seasons, and originally ran between 2004 and 2006. It featured a lot of new characters, the majority of them brought from the DC Comics Universe, no matter how well known or obscure they were. Admittedly, not all of them received the same amount of screen-time, or development. Captain Marvel himself only appeared in one episode, aptly titled "Clash", which aired during the show's second season. At this point in the series, the characters were all caught up in the middle of the Cadmus story-arc which had quite a few sub-plots running at the same time. I will try not to dwell too much on all of the elements of the arc, since they're not really the focus of a thread dedicated to Captain Marvel, but some stuff has to be mentioned to better explain the setting of Captain Marvel's debut. Notably, Lex Luthor was running for President, much to the annoyance of Superman. As such, the Man of Steel was kind of easily ticked off by just about anything, and as luck would have it, the arrival of the cheery Captain Marvel only bugged him some more.


Captain Marvel is presented pretty well in this episode. He's excited to be part of the Justice League. He tries seeing the good in everyone - including Luthor. This leads to his first clash with Superman, who doesn't trust Luthor (and who could blame him). It all culminates in a big fight between Captain Marvel and Superman, in the newly constructed Lexor City. Having the city empty at the time was a decent enough excuse to have the two heroes engage in a fight of these proportions, seeing as much destruction ensued. The fight has some pretty cool choreography. Captain Marvel uses a trick similar to the one from the Kingdom Come comic to fight Superman with a lightning bolt attack, but as in the comic, Superman still manages to come out on top.

All this helped Luthor advance his master plan (which I will try not to spoil, though I presume most reading this have already watched the series), with the world seeing how dangerous and destructive Superman can be, and all due to a misunderstanding. This also makes Captain Marvel question his role as a hero, or rather as a member of the League, as he doesn't believe any of them still act as heroes. He quits the team, after a pretty cool and dramatic speech. He used to idolize these heroes, he wanted to be like them and stand for something. But now, thanks to some meddling from the bad guys, the heroes themselves do their jobs in rather questionable ways, and Captain Marvel doesn't want to have anything to do with it anymore. It is kind of weird having all this from his first appearance, I think it would have left an even bigger impact if we saw him before all this and knew more about him. They still manage to get the point across, though. Likewise, it would have been nice if we saw more of the character later on, if his opinions would have changed after the story-arc ended or something along those lines. Sadly, this was Captain Marvel's only appearance during the DCAU. It was still pretty awesome overall, even if it was mostly only a confrontation between him and Superman. I still found it more entertaining than other such set-ups, where two heroes have to fight each other because of a misunderstanding, from various other projects over the years.

Other cool Captain Marvel related tidbits in the episode include Billy attending C.C. Binder Elementary School, or a scene reminiscent of an old Fleischer Superman animated short, only with Billy taking Clark Kent's place. There's also a pretty amusing bit when Batman and Superman discuss the new member to the team, with Batman admitting most of the heroes like Captain Marvel because he's "sunny". Shane Haboucha voiced Billy here, while Captain Marvel's voice was provided by Jerry O'Connell, who would go on to voice other DC Comics super-heroes in various other projects over the years, including the Atom or more recently, Superman himself. I thought they were both good choices for this episode.

It is a little tricky to review this story alone, without touching any of the other plot elements that were featured in past episodes, or how things would play out by the end of the season. I think the episode still stands well on its own, in regards to Captain Marvel's introduction and portrayal, as well as offering a decent enough set-up for his fight with Superman. But as the ending hints, Luthor's plan was just getting started. Kind of an ominous way to leave things off in this retrospective, but this is where this article ends, and the next parts will focus on other incarnations of both Billy Batson and Captain Marvel. There is a lot more to cover, and thankfully, not all of his appearances included a fight with Superman.

Next: Billy Batson: The Brave and the Bold!
 

RoyalRubble

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Captain Marvel's next animated appearances were on Batman: The Brave and the Bold - an animated series starring Batman (obviously), based on the comic book series the Brave and the Bold. Produced by James Tucker and Michael Jelenic, this was basically a team-up show, with Batman appearing in every episode alongside various other characters from the DC Universe. It premiered in fall 2008 on the Cartoon Network, and lasted for 65 episodes (and it also received a DTV movie last year, in a pretty surprising turn of events). Mostly depicting adventures either adapted or inspired by some of the weirdest comic book stories from the Silver Age of comics, The Brave and the Bold still managed to be a pretty awesome show overall, though the quality of the episodes varies from time to time. I initially didn't really care for the show but I got to admit it did grow on me along the way and all in all I find it very enjoyable. I think it's pretty amazing how many characters they managed to feature throughout the show's run, and pretty much every character that showed up proved to be very entertaining. It was also my introduction to many of the more obscure characters of the DC Universe, some of which I never even heard of before.


The show's format included teasers - short scenes that are shown before the opening credits - which were most of the time completely unrelated to the main plot of the episode. This helped bring in even more characters to this universe. Captain Marvel himself first appeared in a teaser, the one for "Death Race to Oblivion!" (from 2009). His design is somewhat closer to his classic Golden Age look than how he was stream-lined or modernized, for lack of better words, in his previous appearance on Justice League Unlimited (but that design still stayed true to his original look, I think). Here, Billy Batson was voiced by Tara Strong, while Captain Marvel's voice was provided by Jeff Bennett. In his first appearance, Billy is on a field trip to a museum, where Mark Desmond (similarly turned into a kid here) becomes Blockbuster and wrecks havoc inside the building. Billy transforms into Captain Marvel and helps Batman defeat the villain, despite how easily and comically distracted the Captain is by all the other exhibits in the museum. The rest of the episode is quite entertaining as well, as it features heroes and villains competing against each other in a Wacky Races-like event. But Captain Marvel isn't one of the racers.

His first big adventure on the show takes place in the episode aptly titled "The Power of Shazam!", where we get some insight for Billy Batson. He lives in an orphanage, and had a harsh life. He longs for a family of his own, something Batman could relate to. As Captain Marvel, he helps the Caped Crusader fight Doctor Sivana (voiced by Jim Piddock) and his children. Sivana is one of Captain Marvel's most well-known adversaries (and I imagine his popularity would probably increase following the live-action movie), so it kind of made sense for him to be included in this episode. But it doesn't stop there - the episode includes various other Captain Marvel-related foes and elements. Sivana tracks the lightning bolt that transforms Billy into a super-hero and manages to summon none other than Black Adam (voiced by John DiMaggio).

There are a few cool action scenes seeing the two almost equally matched characters fighting each other. Captain Marvel tries seeing the good in Adam, believing he might be the closest thing he'll ever have to a family, but there's really no good in there to be found. The heroes visit the Wizard Shazam (also voiced by Piddock) and learn more about Black Adam's origin. He was chosen by the Wizard as Earth's protector thousands of years ago, and given powers similar to the ones Billy now has. But Adam was soon corrupted and used his powers for evil, thus the Wizard banished him. Now that he's back, Adam attacks the heroes and the Wizard, and also brings to life the statues of the Seven Deadly Enemies of Man, which provide some neat action scenes.

The climax takes place at the Rock of Eternity, where Sivana double-crosses Adam and steals his thunder - or rather lightning, and takes his powers for himself. Adam in turn is restored to his mortal form, now aged considerably given he has spent so much time in his super-powered form. Sivana is now able to stand up to Captain Marvel and fight him on equal grounds. It's a fun fight, but Batman saves the day (it's his show, after all), by tricking Sivana into saying the magic word "Shazam!" again, which turns him back to his mortal self. Captain Marvel easily disposes of Sivana afterwards. One could presume Batman learned that trick from dealing with a certain Mr. Mxyzptlk, and just adapted it for this scenario.

In the end, Billy finally gets what he wanted - a family. Again, thanks to Batman. The Caped Crusader did some detective work and found Billy's long-lost twin sister, Mary (also voiced by Strong), setting up some future story-lines. All in all, a fun episode and a neat showcase for Captain Marvel. I think it works rather well as an introduction for the character (and come to think of it, this was basically his first origin story, at least as far as modern animation goes).

Also note-worthy, while most of the teasers on the show were unrelated to the main plots of the episode, and the majority of them were stand-alone stories, there were a few exceptions. For instance, this episode actually has one of the three teasers that set-up Starro's invasion story-line. It's a pretty cool and unique method to foreshadow the event. And I think the fact Captain Marvel has a pretty big role in defeating Starro, only makes this cooler.

"The Siege of Starro!" was a 2-part story that aired in 2010. Following the Faceless Hunter's attacks, most of Earth's heroes have been defeated (or destroyed, as the case may be) and Starro drones have been placed on their faces so that Starro may control them. They continue to do the same thing to all of the planet's inhabitants. Batman manages to escape such a fate, but realizes he will need help in defeating such foes. He assembles a rag-tag team of heroes - the only ones left who could possibly aid him. As such, he is joined by the likes of Booster Gold (and Skeets!), B'wana Beast, Firestorm and the character this retrospective is all about, Captain Marvel. There are some fun interactions between all the characters, which work pretty well in contrast to the more dramatic and kind of apocalyptic setting. For example, Captain Marvel is both amused and amazed by B'wana's powers to merge various animals into a single being.


Captain Marvel is briefly under Starro's control, when one of the drones attaches itself to his face. But transforming back into Billy seems to have freed him. He once again uses his lightning bolt attack on giant Starro that was hovering above them, and does manage to apparently destroy it. As I said before, he plays a pretty big role in this arc. But the real star is none other than B'wana Beast. He is captured by the Faceless Hunter, and forced to use his powers to revive and merge all the Starro drones into a single giant monster, that can drain the energy from the heroes. Captain Marvel's attacks are useless against this creature, and the heroes are pretty much helpless this time. In the end B'wana Beast is the true hero of the story, as he makes the ultimate sacrifice to destroy the so-called Starzilla. All in all, this was a pretty epic adventure - which Aquaman plans on calling "The time the C-list heroes barely helped saved the day".

Next up we have "The Malicious Mr. Mind!", where Captain Marvel is once again put in the spotlight. This time, we also get to see the super-powered alter-egos of his sister, Mary Batson and their friend Freedy Freeman, as Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr., respectively. We also get to see a bigger assortment of Captain Marvel rogues, including the likes of Ibac, Mister Atom or Oom the Mighty, among others, as part of the Monster Society of Evil. Doctor Sivana also returns, and uses his new invention - a youth ray - on Batman. This makes the Caped Crusader go through various mood swings as he grows younger throughout the episode. It's a pretty amusing sub-plot.

Sivana is soon over-shadowed by newcomer Mr. Mind (if the title of the episode didn't give it away...), a small worm with a big brain - probably even smarter than Sivana himself. Mind takes over as the new leader of the Monster Society, much to Sivana's dismay. Mind also uses his thought control abilities to make the Marvel Family fight among themselves, making things easier for the villains. The younger Batman is not affected, and tries to keep everyone in line but to no avail. Things do get pretty dramatic as the story plays out, with the Marvel Family splitting up. A toddler version of Batman uses some careful psychological examination (and some pretty bad drawings... not that I'm one to judge) to re-unite the family.

Mr. Mind's plan goes well, as he even counted on Sivana wanting to double-cross him and use their newly created weapon on himself. The device turns out to have been a growth ray all along, which turns Mind into a giant rampaging monster... but he is soon defeated by the heroes, working together. The growth ray is then used on Batman, which apparently nullifies the effects of Sivana's youth ray and restores him to normal. Stranger things have happened.

Overall, this was another fun adventure, and it was cool seeing more members of the Marvel Family in action this time. I sort of wish they would have explained Freddy Freeman's inclusion a little more, since Mary had at least one appearance before this (even though she didn't have powers at the time), but that didn't really affect the episode at all. Given the sort of fast-paced nature of the show, a bunch of other characters were used throughout its run, without any real explanation as to who they are. It's a minor complaint, I guess. It was still nice seeing the heroes together, and even nicer seeing the family theme continue after "The Power of Shazam!".


Captain Marvel continued to appear in a few more episodes of the show, but didn't really have any more major roles. The biggest role he had next was during "Night of the Batmen!", where he is one of the many heroes who decide to dress up as Batman and fight crime in his place, while the real Batman is recuperating under the watchful care of Martian Manhunter. Captain Marvel Batman (or "Bat Elvis" as Plastic Man calls him) basically wears Batman's suit with his short white cape added to it, and gets to fight such power-houses as Bane, Blockbuster, Killer Croc and Solomon Grundy, who are surprised seeing a Batman with super strength. The entire episode is fun, and I honestly cannot do it justice by only talking about this small Captain Marvel moment. Seeing various heroes try and act like Batman is cool and amusing, and the ending showing multiple versions of Batman from parallel worlds is just icing on the cake.

Captain Marvel is also featured in "Crisis: 22,300 Miles Above Earth!", as a member of the Justice League. The version of the League that was used most often on the show was based on the Justice League International roster from the comics, which was fun and a pretty nice change of pace. In the story, the League is hosting a party with the Justice Society of America as their guests. There are some fun interactions between the two generations of heroes, who don't seem to be getting along as well as one would expect. He is also briefly seen in the series finale, "Mitefall!", in the last couple of moments, when all the heroes and villains featured on the show gather together to say goodbye to the viewers. A very touching moment.

Looking back, this version of Captain Marvel was fun. I think this show managed to be pretty faithful to the comics, and his adventures had the same charm some of his comics did. It helped that the show had a big Silver Age vibe and didn't take itself too seriously most of the time. Captain Marvel fit in nicely in this style and tone, and his adventures were pretty entertaining. It was nice seeing more members of the Marvel Family as well, given they have not appeared quite as often in recent times. I imagine a solo Captain Marvel (well, with his entire family as supporting characters) animated series done in this style could work, but that might be too much to wish for. As it stands, this is one of my favorite animated takes on the character.

Next: Public Enemies on Two Earths!
 

RoyalRubble

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Captain Marvel also had a brief cameo towards the end of the Justice League: The New Frontier animated movie from 2008, based on on the DC Comics limited series titled DC: The New Frontier (published in 2004), written and drawn by Darwyn Cooke. Captain Marvel can be seen alongside some of the other new heroes as they set out to explore the "New Frontier" - while the titular John F. Kennedy speech can be heard in the background.

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies was released in 2009, as part of the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line, released direct to video. It was based on the story-arc with the same title written by Jeph Loeb and illustrated by Ed McGuinness, published in 2003. It's one of the few movies from this line that received a sequel (though each movie had different art-styles and character designs), at least until the series of inter-connected movies based on the New 52 comics, which started in 2014 and still continues today. But I will talk more about those later during this retrospective.

Public Enemies sees Lex Luthor as the new President of the United States, and as such he convinces some super-heroes to work for him. Superman won't accept something like this, and as a result Luthor frames him for the death of Metallo, using the excuse that a Kryptonite meteor which is about to crash on Earth is affecting his brain. He also places a bounty on Superman's head, and just about every super-villain you can think of means to collect that money. Batman comes to help Superman, and the two discover Luthor's true plans, such as wanting the meteor to crash on the planet, and the real person who killed Metallo.


Captain Marvel is featured for a few scenes in this movie. He's one of the heroes Luthor calls in to stop the supposedly insane Superman, and thus we get another fight between the two characters. Captain Marvel here was voiced by Corey Burton, and his design looks pretty cool. It's on par with the other character designs in the movie (which I always thought looked nice). He gets to fight Superman for a while, noting how his magic powers give him a slight edge in this confrontation. In the meantime, Batman is fighting Hawkman, but comes up with the brilliant and rarely used strategy of them switching adversaries. As a result, Batman manages to slow down Captain Marvel with some grenades, and injure him enough to transform back into Billy Batson, apparently. It doesn't last long though as Billy soon says the magic word and becomes Captain Marvel again. Sadly, we do not get to see the rest of the fight but the next scene shows Superman and Batman - disguised as Captain Marvel and Hawkman, respectively - confronting Luthor. It's later implied that Power Girl (who was initially on Luthor's side but the two heroes managed to convince her of his evil plans) helped them defeat their adversaries. On sort of a related note, I was wondering how exactly Superman took Captain Marvel's costume - is it a replica Batman was carrying around in his utility belt, or was Captain Marvel left in his underwear on the battle-ground. Again, I am probably over-thinking things.

Overall, I think the movie has some pretty cool and entertaining fight scenes. The story is decent enough, but it just doesn't seem to make much sense at times. I do enjoy the movie, for the most part. As with many other projects discussed in this retrospective, I cannot do them justice by only focusing on the few Captain Marvel scenes included. I would recommend this movie, for those who haven't watched it before. I think it's pretty entertaining, and like I said the designs and animation look nice. As a bonus, they're also using the likes of Clancy Brown, Kevin Conroy and Tim Daly reprising the voices of the same characters one would expect.

2010 saw the release of Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, yet another direct to video animated movie. This one was inspired by several parallel universe stories from the comics published over the years, with a script written by the late great Dwayne McDuffie - a script which originally would have placed the events of this story somewhere between the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited animated series. While it would have been nice to revisit the DCAU continuity even for a little bit, I think this movie works as a stand-alone story as well. It's a pretty amazing movie and has some very cool stuff in it.

The story really begins when, convinced by a heroic Lex Luthor to intervene and help the people of Earth 2 by standing against the likes of Ultraman, Super Woman and Owlman, most of the Justice League members (except for Batman) travel to the parallel universe to battle the Crime Syndicate - their evil doppelgangers. As a neat twist, it turns out Superwoman wasn't Wonder Woman's evil counterpart, but rather Mary Marvel's. She was voiced by Gina Torres and proved to be quite a skilled warrior, as she gets to fight various members of our Justice League throughout the movie. She was also in a relationship with Owlman and follows his plans for destruction of the multi-verse, and gets to torture Batman for a while, before he manages to knock her out. Her lieutenants, Captain Super, Uncle Super, and Captain Super Junior are evil versions of Captain Marvel, Uncle Marvel and Captain Marvel Junior, in case someone didn't figure that out by now.


As a whole, it's a good movie with some pretty surprising developments as the story plays out. It's fun to watch, every main member of the League gets at least one cool moment, though I think Martian Manhunter is the only one who actually had his own mini-arc in the middle of the movie, and I liked that. Sadly, the actual Captain Marvel was not featured here but I just figured it would be a neat change of pace to talk about (evil) paralel versions of the Marvel Family as well, even if briefly, in this retrospective.

Next: The Black Adam Paradox!
 

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" Her lieutenants, Captain Super, Uncle Super, and Captain Super Junior are evil versions of Captain Marvel, Uncle Marvel and Captain Marvel Junior, in case someone didn't figure that out by now. "

I had no idea, honestly. But Superwoman being Mary Marvel's counterpart instead of Wonder Woman's make no sense, since the Crime Syndicate is supposed to be made up of counterparts to the 6 Leaguers in this movie. Has this been confirmed by anybody?
 

Yojimbo

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That Superwoman was the Mary Marvel counterpart and Olympia was Wonder Woman's counterpart? I know Jerome Moore confirmed some of that. I know somewhere the late Mr. McDuffie confirmed it, too. He wrote her as evil Mary Marvel. The fact that her and all 3 top lieutenants have the name Super implies as much. But to complicate things, the character designers didn't get the memo. So one of Superwoman's other Made Men was Mary Mayhem, which looked like Marvel Marvel but then they colored her blond and white and was given different powers than the others, but she only appeared in the layout picture of the Made Men.

I think the idea was on their Earth, Superwoman ascended in power instead of Olympia so that's one difference with their team. Their Wonder Woman wasn't much of a factor.

Edit: Yes, okay, I did archive some of McDuffie's replies on one of his forums.

  • Wed Feb 24, 2010 3:42 pm: Question "I loved the "Made Men". I don't think I've ever seen that one done before, so was that all your idea? Or has it been used in comics and I just missed it? Assuming she's similar to the normal Mary Marvel...Does the rest of the Crime Syndicate (or even just Owlman) know that Superwoman's actually a psychotic teenager? Or does she never change back? Who was the girl with the size changing spear that Wonder Woman fought? I saw the name Olympia mentioned in an interview somewhere. Is she supposed to be an alternate Donna Troy?"
  • Answer: "Made Men" was my idea. Superwoman's history and character history differs greatly from our Mary's. She's not a teen-ager. "Olympia," this world's version of Wonder Woman.

  • Wed Feb 24, 2010 3:44 pm: Question "We heard that Superwoman is Mary Marvel's counterpart, and Captain Super is Cap. Marvel."
  • Answer: They aren't brother and sister in this world, just as Ultraman isn't Clark Kent.
 
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RoyalRubble

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Cool, I couldn't find McDuffie's comments but I knew there must be some insight about this. I only had Moore's page handy since I did a little more research while writing this article.

I don't know how much sense it makes having Mary instead of Diana, but I liked the twist. I find it pretty creative if not all the characters are exact counterparts of the heroes you'd expect. (Sort of similar how later Gods and Monsters didn't feature Diana, Bruce or Clark as the Trinity). It's also neat how it doesn't exactly come up during the story, either - unless you count the uniforms and naming conventions for her lieutenants.
 

RoyalRubble

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Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam was also released in 2010. As of now, this is sadly the final entry in the DC Showcase series of animated shorts; most of them were around 15 minutes long, and were included as bonus features on the DVD releases of various animated movies from the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line. However, a separate release of the shorts featured the premiere of Return of Black Adam, an all-new animated short which also had a longer running time (but still less than half an hour, so it's still technically a short feature).

The short is basically an origin story for Shazam - we're introduced to Billy Batson (voiced by Zach Callison), an orphan who leads a pretty rough life, but still tries to do all the good he can. Such as, protecting a homeless man from a group of bullies. He's contacted by Clark Kent (voiced by George Newbern), who thinks writing an article about his situation might provide some help. Their meeting is interrupted however when Black Adam (voiced by Arnold Vosloo) attacks and tries to kill Billy, recognizing the Wizard Shazam would pick the kid as the next chosen one.

Superman interferes and fights off Adam, but the villain seems to have a slight advantage given his magic powers. Meanwhile Billy manages to escape via a subway (with a token the homeless man from earlier gave him as a reward for helping him). All this is part of a bigger plan, as Billy is transported to a cave where the Wizard tells him the backstory of how Black Adam became what he is today. Adam was given great powers but became corrupted by them. The Wizard wishes to grant Billy the same powers, knowing he would do only good with them, since he has observed him for some time. Despite all the hardships Billy has gone through during his life, he still kept his heart pure.



After shouting the magic word "Shazam!", Billy is transformed into the super-hero this retrospective is all about. Jerry O'Connell reprises his role as Captain Marvel (well, he's called Shazam here but you get what I mean) he previously played on Justice League Unlimited, in a similar fashion as how Newbern also played Superman on the same series. Billy as Shazam is surprised by his new powers, and some amusing bits follow, seeing him test his abilities and accidentally say the magic words again, which only turns him back into a kid at a pretty bad time. Once back in action, Shazam and Superman team up to fight Adam, in a pretty well choreographed and entertaining fight scene.

The climax sees Adam test Shazam, by taking an innocent bystander as hostage. He would only free his hostage if Shazam reverts back to his mortal form, thus giving Adam a chance to kill him. Billy complies, but is saved at the last moment by Superman. All of this motivates Billy to become Shazam again and take care of Adam once and for all. He easily defeats him this time, in another well done fight scene, and even intends to kill him, until once again Superman intervenes. The Man of Steel convinces Billy not to become a murderer, reminding him that being strong doesn't mean he has to be a murderer. "Be strong, be good" is sort of a "With great powers come great responsibility" type of speech, but it works, and is still pretty relevant to this story as well.

As a result, Shazam leaves Adam alive, only for him to be confronted by the homeless man from earlier. This man turns out to be a magical talking tiger, Tawky Tawny who is sort of Billy's guardian angel. Adam reverts to his mortal form, but as you'd expect he ages tremendously after spending thousands of years in his super-powered form. Shazam is now Earth's champion, Adam's replacement, and Superman's equal of sorts. As Billy, he continues leaving a pretty ordinary life but can now become a real super-hero just by saying a single word. The movie ends with him using this trick to scare off the same bullies he confronted at the start of the story. At least I presume he only scared them off... I doubt he brutally beat them up, without killing them.

Overall, this was a pretty cool animated short. It's faithful to Shazam's origin from the comics, with Superman included as a bonus. The story is quite good, a little predictable at times but it still plays out well and I think it is entertaining enough. The animation also looks nice, as do the character designs. And I also appreciate how this story didn't have to end up with the two titular heroes having to fight each other. It's a neat little adventure that kind of makes me wish it was only a pilot or something to a full Shazam animated series in this style. Likewise, I wish this wasn't the end of the DC Showcase series of animated shorts. I think there were still a lot of possibilities for other stories to be told there, with various other heroes and villains. Perhaps one day it will get revived, as it's been almost a decade since it ended. I usually tend to like these types of anthology series or whatever you want to call them, and just adding different super-heroes to each story would only make things cooler, I think. Batman: The Brave and the Bold kind of proved such a format could work.

Next up we have another animated feature, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, which was released in 2013. Based on the 2011 comic book story event Flashpoint, by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert, which lead to the introduction of the New 52 universe. While it's not an 100% faithful adaptation and some plot-lines are condensed, I think the movie works well enough. It is among the first more violent animated movies from DC Comics, and interestingly enough it also kind of lead to the New 52 Animated Universe, as most of the movies released afterwards are supposed to be set in the same continuity.

The story begins with the Flash running fast enough to travel back in time and stop his mom from being murdered. Unknowingly, he causes a ripple effect which alters events throughout the timeline, even events which took place before this. He awakes in an alternate world, which is plagued by the war between the Atalanteans lead by Aquaman and the Amazons lead by Wonder Woman. Very few super-heroes actually exist in this timeline, like Cyborg (who works for the President), Batman (Thomas Wayne - in this reality, Bruce was murdered as a child), the Shazam Kids (who become Captain Thunder when shouting "Shazam!"), Superman is a skinny weakened and frightened character (thanks to spending his whole life isolated in a room containing red sun radiation, thanks to the Government), etc. In case you were wondering how violent things can get, at least one of the Shazam Kids is murdered by Wonder Woman.



It's an alternate version of Shazam, but again, I just thought it would be neat if I gave it a shout-out in this retrospective. As before, I won't talk about the movie too much, other than the necessary Shazam information, so this is another case of not being able to do the movie justice. I would recommend the movie for those who have not watched it yet, but as mentioned previously, it gets a little too violent at times so keep in mind it might not be for everyone. The story is pretty interesting, and I liked how some of the Flashpoint versions of the characters did get pretty satisfying little story arcs.

Next: Misplaced on Earth-16!
 

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Young Justice premiered in fall 2010 on the Cartoon Network, as a new more-serious (perhaps a little too serious at times) animated series featuring the DC Universe characters, set on the fictional Earth-16 and pretty much introducing a whole new continuity with little to no connection to other shows, movies or comics at the time. Created by Brandon Vietti and Greg Weisman, the show was pretty amazing overall and continued to have a big fan-base even today, after its cancellation in 2013, after only 2 seasons. In a surprising and very fortunate turn of events, the show was renewed for a 3rd season in 2016, which debuted earlier this year on the new DC Universe streaming service.

The series was followed by a tie-in comic book, which as far as I understand revealed more about the characters, stuff that didn't we didn't get to see on the show and was canon to the main story; unfortunately I haven't followed this comic so the rest of this retrospective will focus exclusively on the animated series.

The Justice League was obviously present in this show, originally consisting of 16 members (16 is a number which popped up occasionally throughout the show, sometimes when you least expected it), with Captain Marvel being one of its members. His voice was provided by Rob Lowe initially, but was eventually replaced by his brother, Chad Lowe. Billy Batson on the other hand was voiced by Robert Ochoa. His design looks nice, there's really not much to talk about here - it's a pretty standard Shazam look, nothing really stands out to me. He fits in well with the rest of the characters and his interactions with the other heroes are entertaining enough. He was present in quite a few episodes, though sometimes only in a brief scene in the background or just having a non-speaking role (sort of similar to how some of the minor characters were featured previously on JLU - it's understandable though, it's bound to happen when you have such a big cast of characters). As such, I will try to only comment on his most notable appearances.


Captain Marvel made his speaking debut in the episode titled "Alpha Male", where he is assigned as den mother/supervisor or whatever you want to call it, for the Team following Red Tornado's apparent betrayal (long story...). He actually volunteered for this position himself, just wanting to hang out with the other kids, realizing it would be more fun that staying with the Justice League. In this new role, Captain Marvel joins the young heroes on a mission in India, where they have to go up against rampaging animals augmented by the Kobra Venom serum by a mysterious foe. There are a few neat action scenes in there, such as Captain Marvel fighting some elephants, for example.

There's a cool little scene where Captain Marvel gives Aqualad a pep talk, about how much he came to respect Batman and the way he leads the heroes. This inspires Kaldur to stand up and be the leader of the Team, despite the others not trusting him anymore because he kept secrets from them (another long story...). I thought there was a bit too much drama in there, but it worked overall and the theme of secrets and lies was something that came up pretty often during the show.

The villains of the episode are revealed to be the Brain (or L-6 if you prefer) and Monsieur Mallah, who manage to capture Captain Marvel. The Brain wishes to see the Captain's "Wisdom of Solomon"... literally, he wants to remove his brain so he can study it. The Team manages to rescue him in time, and as one would expect more action scenes ensue. In the end, the mission is a success, with the animals being set free from under Brain's control. Superboy also befriends a mutated wolf and keeps him as a pet, while Captain Marvel bonds with a tiger who turned against his masters and helped him in the fight. I think it's a neat little nod to the character of Tawky Tawny from the comics.

All in all, this was a pretty strong debut for Captain Marvel. It's a fun portrayal, he used his powers rather well, his personality was depicted in a satisfying manner and he fit in nicely along the younger heroes the show focused on. As a bonus of sorts, we also get to see his real identity as Billy Batson towards the end of the episode, as well as his Uncle Dudley.

In "Revelation", Captain Marvel aids the Justice League in dealing with giant plant creatures that attacked various places all over the world. Meanwhile, the Team was sent to confront the Injustice League, who was responsible for these attacks (but in reality were only a front for the true evil masterminds, the Light). Notably, Black Adam was one of the members of the Injustice League, and Superboy is the one who mostly gets to fight him in this episode. The heroes win in the end, and think their villains have all been captured, but as mentioned before, the Light was still there and everything was going according to their plans, as usual.


There are a bunch of scenes where Captain Marvel's more child-like behavior is presented for a few quick gags, such as playing fetch with Wolf (in "Humanity"), or dressing up as a zombie for Halloween believing he was invited to the kids' party (in "Secrets"). They're kind of all foreshadowing the eventual big reveal that he is in reality just a kid, something that in-universe not many knew about at this point. I imagine some of the viewers watching the show knew this from the start, even without the scene at the end of "Alpha Male". But his secret did provide a few cool scenes over the next few episodes. Also somewhat note worthy, in "Failsafe", Captain Marvel along with most of the Justice League members, is apparently disintegrated by an alien force invading our planet. I will try not to spoil all the twists in this episode, but I imagine most people reading this know what happens by the end of the story and besides, there is more to discuss about the YJ version of Captain Marvel, as he continued to appear (alive and kicking) throughout the rest of the show.

The heroes learn Billy Batson is Captain Marvel in the episode titled "Misplaced". In this story, Klarion and a group of other evil sorcerers create a spell that separates adults from children all over the world, placing them in separate dimensions. As a result, Billy is stuck with the other kids, but by turning into Captain Marvel he can access the grown-up's dimension as well. As such he plays a pretty important role in the episode, since he is able to relay information from one team to the other and help co-ordinate their plans.

Since this was the first time the other heroes learned that Billy Batson and Captain Marvel are the same person, there were a few neat scenes showing us how the others reacted to this. It was brief but given the circumstances and the pretty dire situation the world was in, it makes sense they did not dwell to much on this. But it would be brought up in the next episodes...

In "Agendas", the Justice League holds a meeting to decide which new heroes, if any, they should include among their ranks. This brings up a few interesting debates, such as whether they should decide going by biological age or chronological age. There are quite a few fun moments as well, like the super-heroines rooting for more women joining the team, the Green Lanterns vehemently refusing to let Guy Gardner join, or Captain Marvel himself providing some amusing commentary in regards to the Atom, Plastic Man or even Doctor Fate. There's also a neat gag that Superman thought Captain Marvel was Kryptonian, and that was apparently one of the reasons he wanted him in the League.

Batman defends Captain Marvel's presence in the Justice League and reveals he knew all along about his 10 years old alter-ego of Billy. With this occasion we also get some insight into Batman's reasoning of taking Dick Grayson under his wing, turning him into Robin at the age of 9 and helping him get his revenge on his parents' killer. It's a pretty well-defining moment for the Dark Knight. All in all, this was a cool episode, and I enjoyed it, but I think the scenes with the Justice League were a lot more entertaining than the sub-plot of Superboy fighting his clone and learning more about his parentage.

And that brings us to the season one finale, "Auld Acquaintance", where Vandal Savage takes control over pretty much the entire Justice League, thanks to the so-called Starro-Tech the Light created. As such Captain Marvel is one of his minions and appears in a few scenes, fighting the younger heroes who were trying to save their mentors. Zatanna uses a spell to turn him back into Billy, which apparently also cures him of the Starro-tech. In the end the day is saved (though the Light still manages to escape), but the League is surprised to learn that 6 of them were absent from Earth for 16 hours, and there's no way to know what they did under Savage's control. Overall, I think it was a pretty awesome finale, with some pretty surprising twists in there.


As with many other of the shows and movies I have covered in this retrospective, I cannot do this show justice by mainly commenting on Captain Marvel's appearances. The show has some very cool stuff in it, the characters are kind of likeable for the most part, and the stories are intriguing. I enjoyed this first season a lot more than the next one, but I will talk more about that in the next article. As for Captain Marvel, he was used rather well. I liked the way he was portrayed here, his interactions with the other heroes were fun and he did get a few chances to shine, as well.

Next: Invasion of the Outsiders!
 

Frontier

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I liked a lot of how they handled Billy in Young Justice. He came off very believably as a kid in an adult body but who was still a pure-hearted hero, and that made for an interesting contrast with the teenage heroes coming into their own on Young Justice :).

I also though Rob Lowe did a surprisingly good job as the Big Red Cheese :cool:.
 
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RoyalRubble

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Starting with its second season Young Justice gained the sub-title Invasion. It continued to air on the DC Nation programming block the Cartoon Network had at the time. Taking place five years after the first season, we find that lots of things have changed: the Team expanded and got a lot of new members, some of the previous members joined the Justice League, Dick Grayson took on the code-name Nightwing, Tim Drake became the third Robin, Wally West and Artemis continued their relationship and quit being super-heroes, Impulse arrived from the future to stop an impending invasion (hence the subtitle "Invasion"), etc. It feels kind of confusing at first but along the way as more stuff is explained it mostly makes sense. This season offers us some more great stories, but mostly focuses on the Reach's plans to invade Earth. The missing 16 hours brought up in the previous season finale are also addressed, and as a result the six members of the Justice League who were mind-controlled by Vandal Savage into pretty much destroying the planet Rimbor, as well as a couple of others leave Earth to stand trial for their "crimes".

Captain Marvel is among the heroes who remain on Earth, and as such continues to appear briefly in a few more episodes. However, he didn't get to do much this season. But the same could be said about a lot of other characters introduced previously, who were kind of pushed to the background to make room for the likes of Blue Beetle, Impulse or the Runaways (based on old Super Friends characters like the Ultimen on JLU before them, and not to be confused with the Marvel Comics team with the same title). As before, I will try to focus mostly on Captain Marvel's appearances and only briefly touch on other plot elements featured this season. This kind of makes it tricky, seeing as the story was more serialized now, even more so than in the first season. But I will try my best.

In "Cornered", Despero attacks our planet while some of its biggest heroes were absent. This version of the character was a little more barbaric than the one seen in Justice League, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. I think he worked well as a villain here, and proved just how powerful and dangerous he can be. I believe throughout the years, in the comics, Despero was given different portrayals as well, so this isn't such a radical change from the source material. Here, the villain is aided by his robot servant L-Ron (named after science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard). They put up a barrier around the Hall of Justice and Despero starts fighting anyone who was inside at the time. Which includes Captain Marvel, who was probably the most powerful hero there and the one most likely to stop Despero.


There are a lot of cool action scenes here, with Despero beating up heroes like Captain Marvel or Superboy and Guardian (Mal Duncan, who just started his career as a crime-fighter). Despero also uses his third eye to dispose of Zatanna, using some sort of hypnotic blast. Captain Marvel does get a few good chances to shine, and tries using the classic lightning bolt attack on Despero. However, it doesn't work - Despero is unharmed and Shazam turned back into Billy, who is then also incapacitated by the villain's third eye. Thanks to Miss Martian awakening Zatanna the heroes manage to turn the tables on Despero, and Billy tries out the same lightning attack as before on L-Ron. It works this time, and the robot is broken to pieces, but also activates a bomb that brings down the Hall of Justice. Captain Marvel helps save the others from the ruins of the collapsed building, but they are all still trapped inside the barrier Despero created, which seems to be unbreakable. There's also a neat scene with Captain Marvel and Captain Atom using their powers to try and break the barrier, from the inside and the outside, respectively. In the end, the barrier is taken down thanks to Reach technology, with the Reach ambassador showing how superior their tech is and now being sort of a hero. One could almost presume this was all part of a bigger plan... All in all, a good episode and a pretty great showcase for Captain Marvel. He managed to shine, even if briefly and put up a good fight against the villain. This was also Captain Marvel's most notable role during Invasion.

Captain Marvel continued to appear in a few more episodes until the season finale, mostly appearing in stories involving another alien warlord, Mongul. In "War", Mongul attacks our planet with his Warworld. Captain Marvel joins Captain Atom and Green Beetle (the martian equivalent of Blue Beetle) in a mission to confront the space station, while some of the younger heroes the show mostly focuses on, infiltrate the station to stop it from the inside and fight Mongul. There are some cool scenes spread throughout the episode, and a lot of other stuff happens that I will try not to spoil or dwell too much on, especially given Captain Marvel is not really involved in any of those events. I will mention that the heroes manage to save the day (as one would expect), and as a result over the next few episodes they place guards aboard the Warworld to protect the Crystal Key the device that can re-activate the artificial planet and allow anyone who yields it control over all its weapons, making sure no one will try using it again. Captain Marvel was one of the guards. In "Summit", after the Light and the Reach learn how each side was trying to double-cross the others, and most of the aliens and some of the villains are stopped by the young heroes, Vandal Savage arrives aboard the Warworld. The next scene shows Captain Marvel defeated, and thrown inside the Watchtower while the Warworld flies away. It's kind of a shame this happened off-screen, but given the result one can imagine how things went down. Once again, I feel like I have to mention that there's just so much cool stuff happening in this show, that I cannot possibly explain it all here.


The series finale is titled "Endgame". In this final story, Black Beetle (pretty much the main villain of the season, the evil counterpart of Blue Beetle) has activated Magnetic Field Disruptors all over the globe, which generate kinetic energy that would eventually lead to the destruction of the planet's magnetic field. All heroes split up into squads of two to take care of the Disruptors, with tech strangely enough developed by Lex Luthor; unfortunately there's not enough time in this episode to show us each squad's mission. Though thanks to Greg Weisman's generosity revealing a bunch of deleted scenes from this episode, we learn that Captain Marvel was paired with Green Arrow as part of Iota Squad. In the end the day and the planet are saved, but not without a price: Kid Flash has ceased, because of absorbing too much kinetic energy. It's a pretty well done scene, especially the aftermath showing how his closest friends and family cope with this. There's also the neat way the series ends, with Darkseid being revealed as the Light's mysterious partner. And this was the end, in 2013... at least until earlier this year, when the show resumed.

Also somewhat of an interesting tidbit is that the character of Mary Marvel - albeit called Sargent Marvel - was hinted to exist in this universe, too. She was apparently supposed to appear in two episodes of the season, but the crew did not have enough time to finalize her design so she could be added in these episodes. Sort of a similar thing happened with Captain Marvel Jr., known as Lieutenant Marvel in this continuity, who was supposed to appear in an issue of the tie-in comic, but the plans never materialized. Granted, I said I would not talk much about the comic series in this thread, but I thought it would be appropriate to at least mention these characters existed within on Earth-16.

All in all, Captain Marvel was pretty good on this season. He wasn't used that much and was mostly seen as a background character but he did have some neat, brief moments. He wasn't that well developed, remained pretty much the same as we saw him in the previous season, but the same can be said about pretty much every other Justice League member. I'm not complaining though since the show focused on the teen heroes and for the most part did a great job at presenting them and developing their characters along the way. There wasn't enough time to actually feature every super-hero and put him or her in the spotlight - I understand and appreciate that. I don't mean to bash the show or anything, either. Like I said, the show is pretty amazing overall and kind of on-par with Gargoyles for me, at least as far as Greg Wiseman's "big 3" shows go. Spectacular Spider-Man is still my favorite, but to be fair it's been a few years since I last watched anything Gargoyles-related so I am not sure how well that holds up. But I digress...


Fast forward a couple of years, more time has passed in real life than in-universe this time, as the third season of Young Justice, now sub-titled Outsiders premiered on the DC Universe streaming platform earlier this year. Within the show, only 2 years have passed, but once again, a lot of changes have occurred. I won't dwell too much on any of the changes here if only because it would take too long, and none of it really affects Captain Marvel's brief scene this season - at least so far, given only half of Outsiders has premiered at this point, but it should resume in a few weeks.

Billy appears in "Triptych", for a quick scene, where he and Barry Allen are undercover posing as security guards, on a mission to stop some super-villains from freeing other meta-human prisoners. I have to admit I didn't even recognize Billy at first, he has grown quite a bit since he was last seen on the show. But as soon as he becomes Shazam, it was all clear. He is also called Shazam now on this series as well, which kind of makes sense given the push to name him as such that kind of happened while the series was off the air. There's really not much to talk about, in regards to Shazam's quick appearance here. But the episode as a whole is quite intriguing, and the season so far has been very entertaining. Much better than the previously discussed Invasion, and kind of on par with the first season of the show, which I enjoyed a lot. It remains to be seen just how good the season will be by the end, or if the show will be renewed once again, but either way I am looking forward to the rest of the episodes debuting next month.

And since I mentioned the DC Nation block at the start of this article... I'd also like to give a quick shout-out to the Shazam shorts that were sometimes featured there. These premiered in 2013, so as you may have noticed this article is kind of a mess as far as a proper chronological rundown goes, but bare with me. Shazam appeared in a few DC Nation shorts, but also had his own series of cartoons. David Kaye voiced Captain Marvel, while Tara Strong was once again Billy's voice actress. Each short is only around one minute long, so there's really not a lot to talk about here, but they are fun and each one features some neat concepts, such as Billy using his powers to do his school work or sneak into an R-rated movie. He also gets to confront foes like Mr. Mind or Ibac. All the shorts should still be available for viewing on the official DC Kids YouTube channel, as of the time of this writing. They're pretty entertaining, overall. And I like how each one focuses on one of the attributes Billy gains from the mythical figures that empower him, though not all of them are covered here. I think these needed a quick mention if only because they're currently the closest thing we've had to an actual Shazam animated series. Though to be honest, if the character were to ever receive his own modern show, I would prefer it to be a little more serious than this.

Next: War of the Justice League!
 
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Rick Jones

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I think my first exposure to Captain Marvel was from reading a comic about him in The Superman & Batman Magazine. I only ever saw a few issues but I loved those DCAU style comics. Captain Marvel appealed to me instantly and I've been a fan of the Shazam! adaptations.

Brave and the Bold has to be my favorite take due to not only capturing the old school feel but also for its use of Mary and Freddie. I don't think they've been used outside BATB and the Filmation cartoons. It's a shame that there has been so few animated attempts in comparison to the longevity of Shazam!

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Rick Jones

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At least you gave a nod to the show at the top of the thread. I overlooked it back in the day, but it doesn't look like I missed much.

View attachment 242372
It's pretty typical of the late 70s - early 80s Filmation cartoons (pre He-Man) except it centers around the Marvel Family. There's lots of Uncle Dudley and Tawky Tawny comic relief, and goofy villainy from Mr Mind and the Sivanas. This wasn't a very serious property already but it definitely doesn't get too serious in Filmation's hands.

One thing I did get a kick out of was seeing early credits for guys like Paul Dini, years before BTAS was a dream.

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Justice League: War was released in 2014, as part of the DC Universe Original Movies line of animated features. It was the first official entry in the so-called New 52 Animated universe (though technically, the aforementioned Flashpoint Paradox movie kind of kick-started this whole thing), seeing as most of the movies that followed it were set in the same continuity. This line is still going pretty strong, and I like how each new feature introduces new characters or teams within this universe. But as a result, not all of the characters introduced from the start get to do much in the newer movies, or don't even appear at all. Shazam was introduced in War, with his voice provided by Sean Astin (while Zach Callison reprises his role as Billy). His design looks good enough - again, I don't really have much to add in regards to his look, other than maybe his cape also includes a hood, which I thought was pretty cool. I like the new design and as in other projects, he fits in nicely alongside the other characters.

The movie does a decent enough job at presenting a new origin story for the Justice League. Notably, in this version Shazam is one of the founding members of the team, which I thought was also kind of cool. Shazam basically replaces Aquaman, a pretty regular original member of the League, who was even present in the comic book story this movie was mostly based on. However, this incarnation of Shazam is not as fun or entertaining as some of the past portrayals in other animated projects over the years. I can kind of understand what they were going for, having Billy (and sometimes Shazam himself) be more of a petulant child, but it doesn't make him too likeable. I did enjoy this movie overall, but none of the characters were that well fleshed out here. To be fair, this was basically the start of a new animated universe and as such the first time we get to see these versions of the characters, so I can kind of overlook some of these flaws. Some of these characters have developed nicely over the next few movies. Shazam however, wasn't that lucky, but that is mainly due to him appearing in only two movies so far.


The story of War is fairly simple - it uses the classic gimmick of having the heroes band together to stop an alien invasion, in the form of Darkseid and his forces. This does lead to some pretty awesome fight scenes spread throughout the feature, but the story itself is nothing too noteworthy. It's kind of predictable most of the time but it still is a pretty fun adventure that manages to offer some solid entertainment. Of course, seeing as this is the first time these characters encounter each other, they have to fight before learning to work together. The movie also offers a pretty nice origin story for Cyborg, who is also one of the founding members of the Justice League here, something that has happened in a bunch of other projects (animated or otherwise) in recent times. Once he was mostly known as a member of the Teen Titans, but now you can see him just about everywhere, including the Justice League or even the Doom Patrol.

Billy is introduced when he's trying to sneak into a football game, where Victor Stone is playing. I think the movie managed to present a pretty cool dynamic and friendship between Billy and Vic, with the latter helping the kid not getting caught by the guards at the stadium. Billy repays this act of kindness by stealing Vic's jersey. The movie also presents the drama between Vic and his father Silas fairly well, but it's just about what you'd expect if you have watched some of the other projects where these characters have appeared. Granted, I believe this movie predates most of these other projects, but I think the bond between Billy and Vic is handled better, and is one of the most interesting and enjoyable bits to be found here. It's also cool seeing how this also applies to their super-heroic alter-egos, too. In a way, Billy is the one who helps Vic realize he still has his humanity, even after the accident that turns him into Cyborg.

We also get some brief background info on Billy's situation, with him living in a foster home alongside other kids like Darla and Freddy. It's not much, but it's nice seeing a glimpse into his life with everything else going on during the movie. He does sneak out of the home often, while the other kids worry about him, but Billy is kind of a jerk about it here. As I mentioned at the start, this version of the character is not really as layered or in-line with how he's usually portrayed. There's really not much else to say about Billy, as soon enough he needs to turn into Shazam to take care of one of Darkseid's Parademons who ended up in their back yard at the start of the invasion.

The heroes find themselves forced to work together when Darkseid descends. There are some really cool action scenes here, and I believe each character gets a chance to shine... well, maybe shine isn't the right word, seeing as they are pretty ineffective against the villain. But they each go up against Darkseid and the movie offers a good enough showcase for their powers and abilities. In Shazam's case, they focused more on his lightning powers than simply super strength and some of his other talents. The fight scenes were cool, and the visuals for Shazam's lightning attacks also looked nice. It does get a bit violent at times, seeing as their plan was to blind Darkseid, but I didn't mind it too much. Of course, with this Shazam being so impertinent, he disobeys Green Lantern's orders and messes up their plan. As a result Wonder Woman feels the need to punch him and remind him he's a warrior now, not a child. It was kind of called for, and it seemed to work.


After a fierce battle, the day is saved - thanks in part to Cyborg using Mother Box tech to send Darkseid back home through a Boom Tube... but also thanks to Shazam himself, who used his lightning to amplify the power of the device. With the world saved, the heroes form the Justice League (and not the "Super Seven", the name Shazam suggested for the team), setting the stage for further adventures. All things considered, the movie works pretty well but is not one of my favorite animated Justice League origin stories. The characters are kind of annoying at times (including Shazam, as mentioned before) but some of their interactions are handled pretty well, especially the dynamic between Vic and Billy. As far as the action goes, I think this movie delivers some great stuff. It's an entertaining enough adventure, overall.

Shazam returned in the sequel, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, from 2015, with Sean Astin reprising the role. As the title would suggest, the movie introduces Aquaman into this continuity. It's a pretty good origin story for the character (though it feels a little weird re-watching this shortly after the live-action Aquaman movie), and I liked the way Arthur Curry was presented here. To be fair, I already talked more about this as well in my Aquaman retrospective (admittedly, that was a few years ago, but my opinion hasn't changed too much), so I won't dwell too much on some of the stuff that happens in this movie and try to only highlight Shazam's scenes.

I liked how the Justice League crossed paths with Arthur and got mixed up in this war for the Throne of Atlantis. They were just investigating a submarine that was attacked and sank at the beginning of the story, and one thing lead to another. The balance between all the characters seems to be handled better in this movie. But with a cast this large, and with a focus on Aquaman, not all of the heroes get equal amounts of screen-time. Shazam is present in all this, too. He's the one who actually gives the League a lead in their investigation, mentioning Professor Stephen Shin and his theories about Atlantis. He gets a few cool action scenes spread throughout the movie, either fighting off Trench creatures, the Atlantean army or even going up against Orm the Ocean Master himself. But Orm's magic is stronger, thanks to his the magic Trident he now wields, and his lightning attack incapacitates Shazam, and turns him back into Billy as well. But don't worry, Aquaman manages to win the fight and help save the world.

There are also some more amusing scenes included, once again depicting Shazam's more child-like behavior, such as him chuckling at Cybrog's footage of him getting attacked aboard the sunken submarine, or making fun of Superman for being on a date with Wonder Woman (A sub-plot I didn't care much for, but it was harmless enough I suppose. Interesting to note this has pretty much disappeared in more recent movies). The camaraderie between Billy and Vic is still featured throughout the movie, with the former encouraging his buddy to make a date with Doctor Sarah Charles. Shazam also seems to be a pretty popular hero in-universe, as there's a fun scene where a young girl (who looks suspiciously like the Cassie Sandsmark version of Wonder Girl) turns out to be one of his fan-girls.


Overall, I think Throne of Atlantis is a little better than its predecessor. The pacing seems better, and the story is more intriguing as well. The characters are a bit more likeable, too. Aquaman's introduction works well, but in regards to Shazam, there's really not much else to say. The character is a nice addition to the Justice League, but to date, this was pretty much his last appearance in this new line of in-continuity movies. He was mentioned a couple of times, I believe, in a few of the following movies, but didn't actually appear or do anything note-worthy. With the amount of heroes present in the League to begin with, and with a few more members joining off-screen in-between movies, it is kind of understandable they couldn't always fit in all of the characters. But at the same time, in this continuity Shazam is one of the founding members so one might expect him to get better treatment. I'm not really trying to bash the newer movies - they have all been pretty entertaining, even more so than the two I briefly discussed about above. I have enjoyed them so far, and I look forward to Shazam's eventual return.

Next: Shazam Slam!
 
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I like Sean Astin as Shazam. I think he's able to capture that youthful exuberance and attitude that you need for the character with the more "modern" edge of Billy's current characterization :).

I'm just waiting for them to finally explain where he's been since Thrones of Altantis :p.
 
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