Comics · DC/Warner Bros. Movies

SHAZAM/Captain Marvel: how do they keep Billy Batson from being overpowered on the big screen?

Captain Marvel, or better known by his magical cry that transforms him into a mighty superhero, SHAZAM, is one of my favourite superheroes. He is a terrifyingly powerful character but like all good characters in all genres of literature, has another side. That other side in the case of Captain Marvel is quite stark. In the form of Billy Batson, Captain Marvel is just a child in a man’s body. This has to be one of the best dichotomies to a character I have ever seen and makes for so many interesting stories and perspectives, especially as to what constitutes a hero and acts of heroism. So with the new movie coming up, with Dwayne Johnson already confirmed to play Black Adam, one of my favourite comic book bad guys of all time, I am super excited to see how they transfer one of, if not the, oldest comic book super heroes of all time on to the big screen.

The major issue facing the production team is how they are going to get across the duality of the character. This is important because a focus on the child side would give fantastic perspective and depth that would otherwise be impossible to convey. However, having a  a child, or even a child-like character, in amongst the Justice League alongside Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman et al., if that is where they choose to take the character, would seem a bit misplaced.

So how could they do it? How about a twist? Something I would really like to see them try is both characters on screen at the same time. So when one of them is dominant the other is somewhat of a guardian angel or an invisible Jiminy Cricket if you will. They could be conversing with one another and working things out together, sort of like a child’s creation of an invisible friend. I think this would work as it would very plainly get across the duality of the character, whilst also making sure the audience is aware that Billy Batson is still in there. This would also allow them to properly explore the perceptions of heroism from a child’s perspective and not lose the depth that a character such a Billy Batson could bring to any potential storyline. Billy Batson also lost his parents when he was young and Captain Marvel is supposed to look like his father, so Captain Marvel when he is not the dominant character but playing the invisible guardian angel role could be almost a father figure that Billy never had.

We have seen the strength of younger characters and actors and how they can provide a fresh view on the actions of heroes and an innocence that is yet to be corrupted in a world of evil. Marvel have already started work on this as I believe that Spiderman: Homecoming will explore many elements of these themes, as Tony Stark is expected to be appearing as teacher or wise head to the young Peter Parker. I also want to see Billy Batson’s perceptions of the tremendous power and destructive awe that has been conveyed in the DC shared movie universe so far. It has been somewhat a criticism of the movies in comparison to Marvel, but the gravity of events and strength of the impending doom has been far more evident in the DC movies than in any Marvel counterpart. Billy Batson has previously explored themes of powerlessness, that was mentioned in Dawn of Justice and the Shazam/Superman animated short movie, and this could be revisited here. I would also love to see Billy Batson’s perspective on the action of the new Batman. Most believed he was far too violent, even for a more seasoned veteran such as the ‘Dark Knight Returns’ Batman, but Billy could be the voice of the audience in this regard.

Anyway, that is my two cents on how I would like them to portray the Captain Marvel/Billy Batson duality on the big screen, let me know what you think, are you looking forward to the movie, what do you think of Captain Marvel? How do you think they could get across the depth of the character, should they just stick to Captain Marvel himself? Will he join the Justice League? I want to know what you think makes a hero.

Billy_Batson and SHAZAM.jpg


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