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Tuesday, February 11, 2014 

There won't be a Shazam movie because of Man of Steel, or because of Geoff Johns?

I almost missed this news from the past month, that WB was considering a movie based on Captain Marvel Billy Batson, but it's been shelved to date because of the similarities with Superman, and they wanted to put all their chips into the project they felt stood a better chance.

Actually, there's surely more reasons than one why Man of Steel stood a better chance as a movie than a Capt. Marvel movie ever will. The movie director Peter Segal, who'd been close to those pondering an adaptation, gave an eyebrow-raising revelation to Coming Soon:
CS: It sounded like your approach was a bit more kid-friendly.
Segal: Well, it wasn't. I was working with Geoff Johns. At its core, it's a lot like Superman. There's this boy trapped inside of a superhero's body. He's still a boy inside, so there's this opportunity to play a lot of humor with the action. Originally, Stan Lee brought me "Fantastic Four" a number of years for that very reason. I always have the question when people bring me superhero properties, "Why me?" With Stan, he said, "It's because there's a sense of humor within all Marvel characters." These characters are flawed and, within those flaws, there is humor. When Toby Emmerich came to me with Shazam, it was because of those same reasons. To draw from that humor and to mix it with great action and pathos. I've always loved Shazam, but I don't know if it's going to see the light of day anytime soon.
I wouldn't want to see it even if it did if Johns came within even miles of being connected. If he had influence over the production, there's every chance any humor it contained would be disastrous, much like some of the "funny" moments in his comics writing, which come across extremely forced. It'd make little difference whether the production crew managed to keep out a lot of the repellent violence plaguing his comics, if the Green Lantern movie says something. And let's remember that Johns wrote one of the worst modern updates for Billy Batson.

However, Screen Rant isn't very well informed about Black Adam's status:
In hindsight, Segal and the studio’s efforts to distance the character from Superman seem evident: first going with the official title of Billy Batson and the Legend of Shazam, and now hearing that the script included humor, but wasn’t going to alienate older audiences who took the source material seriously. Any comic fan knows that Captain Marvel’s nemesis Black Adam isn’t kid-friendly in any sense of the word, so we would maintain that a mature take on the comic could still work, if handled properly.
Is that really so? Black Adam did make his debut in the Golden Age Fawcett stories in 1945, and chances are the stories then were told in a manner suitable for children's reading. Same goes for the later stories published during the Bronze Age, so they're not making much sense without better research. I suspect their commentary draws from a lot of the material published since the mid-90s, which was told from a more sophisticated level. Another problem with this commentary is that again, they're alluding to the stories written by Johns and other politically correct writers who made it more mature without providing much intelligence. Taking the material seriously doesn't mean the audiences didn't want any humor.

I think it's a good thing there won't be a Captain Marvel movie at this point, because any presence by Johns on the production staff spells trouble, and is downright embarrassing. Someday, it might be possible, but not with the kind of people running the store now.

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Screen Rant's commentary is based on the nu52 or some other reboot or retcon. The original Captain Marvel/Shazam stories (1940-1953) were very "kid friendly." That includes Black Adam's debut in 1945. In fact, the series became more and more tongue-in-cheek by the late 1940's, possibly because Fawcett was trying to avoid comparisons to DC's (relatively serious) Superman.

I think a tongue-in-cheek Captain Marvel series (whether in movies, TV, or comics) could appeal to mature adults who can't take costumed superheroes seriously. Unfortunately, such an approach would not fit in with DC's official "grim 'n' gritty" house style.

In many ways, I'm glad there won't be a Captain Marvel movie. The character is/was meant to be kid-friendly and considering that Geoff Johns works closely with Hollywood in adapting DC Comics to other media, it would not surprise me that if there were a movie based on the character, it would be made dark and cynical. Everything Captain Marvel isn't.

There's a reason why this Captain Marvel's now called Shazam is because Marvel trademarked that name starting with its own Captain Marvel(s) as Monica is a sign that it's not the first time Marvel had a nonwhite Marvel-named character.

True. My understanding is that DC could still legally use the name "Captain Marvel" in the stories themselves, but not on covers, or in advertising and merchandising. Such a limit on using the character's name is an obvious drawback. Besides the trademark glitch, DC is probably not eager to publish a comic with the name of their biggest rival on the cover.

"Another problem with this commentary is that again, they're alluding to the stories written by Johns and other politically correct writers who made it more mature without providing much intelligence."


Actually, if it doesn't have intelligence, they're not really 'mature.'

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