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  1. #1
    The Fastest Post Alive! Buried Alien's Avatar
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    Default SHAZAM franchise: hurt more by 1950s-1970s absence, or 1980s-recent underuse?

    After Fawcett Comics had to take the SHAZAM! (Marvel Family) franchise out of publication in the wake of losing the infamous lawsuit to DC during the 1950s, the entire SHAZAM! franchise lay dormant in pop culture for twenty years until revived via a new DC Comics series and a moderately popular Saturday morning live-action TV series during the mid-1970s. After that brief resurgence during the 1970s, SHAZAM! did not return to complete dormancy as it had between the 1950s and 1970s, but went into a much longer period of underexposure from the early 1980s until the current release of the Zachary Levi/Asher Angel movie. SHAZAM! didn't disappear completely between the 1980s and 2019, but the Marvel Family's exposure was limited outside of dedicated DC Comics fans.

    The SHAZAM! movie is doing well, and hopefully, elevates the entire franchise's popularity to a level it hasn't seen since at least the 1970s, but is that as far as SHAZAM! can go in spite of the film's success due to the franchise's extended underexposure over the decades?

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  2. #2
    Ultimate Member MajorHoy's Avatar
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    I think the Original Captain Marvel was probably hurt more by the fact he would always play second-fiddle (or lower) to Superman as long as he was published by the same company publishing Superman. This was an even further problem when DC combined the two franchises into the same Earth/universe.
    If DC had continued with The Big Red Cheese as a separate imprint / separate universe, he might have had a better chance, but they had started out with a 1940s-1950s premise that many readers in the 1970s-1980s didn't give enough support.

  3. #3

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    Well, technically, the final result of the lawsuit wasn't decided. It was sent by an appeals judge back to a lower court, but Fawcett decided it would be too costly to keep defending it due to comics sales for superheroes falling drastically by the early 1950s. So, Fawcett settled out of court, paid DC $400k in damages, and agreed to stop publishing Captain Marvel and related characters.

    Anyway, given the state of superhero comics in the 1950s, I think even if Fawcett had been able to continue publication, CM would likely have soon died out anyway just as the Timely heroes did in spite of a 1950s revival attempt.

    People today who can't get into Superman sometimes complain that the character is outdated, but really Captain Marvel is 10x more outdated than Superman could ever be. It took Geoff Johns to do a wholesale reboot of the character to get him somewhat noticed, and he's still not ever going to be a major star in comics, movie or not. I think the property is seen by comics fans as too kiddie for them no matter what they try to do with it -- and this criticism isn't unfounded.

    I like Captain Marvel, but I got into him with the 1970s revival by DC and the TV show, so I was still in grade school. If I had not been exposed to the character until I became an adult, I don't know if there would be anything there that would appeal to me.

    So, no, I just feel that CM might work best as a superhero aimed at kids and that's not going to appeal to the majority of today's comics fans.

  4. #4
    Mighty Member Adekis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MajorHoy View Post
    I think the Original Captain Marvel was probably hurt more by the fact he would always play second-fiddle (or lower) to Superman as long as he was published by the same company publishing Superman. This was an even further problem when DC combined the two franchises into the same Earth/universe.
    If DC had continued with The Big Red Cheese as a separate imprint / separate universe, he might have had a better chance[...]
    I generally agree with the claim that being prioritized lower than Superman by DC has hurt Captain Marvel. To this day, I kind of think Cap should have his own imprint, if not just be published by a second company besides DC. Forget playing (I've always said) seventh-fiddle to Superman, he should be the Top Dog of his own world.

    I also think that Captain Marvel's underuse from the 70s - today is mostly because he was gone from the '50s to the '70s, in much the same way that the Civil War was more or less inevitable from the moment the USA was founded with a blind eye toward slavery. Saying that Shazam was hurt more by his underuse from the '70s onward than by his nonexistence from the '50s 'til then doesn't make sense, because the earlier event caused the latter.
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  5. #5

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    Both.

    I think if Cap had been published in the 50's & especially the 60's he would have enjoyed the resurgence of superheroes during the 60's. And he may have had more "staying power". The Crisis made things even worse as Cap had to share an Earth with Superman. IF Cap had stayed on a separate Earth or even been a separate imprint I think he would have done better.

  6. #6
    The Fastest Post Alive! Buried Alien's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adekis View Post
    I generally agree with the claim that being prioritized lower than Superman by DC has hurt Captain Marvel. To this day, I kind of think Cap should have his own imprint, if not just be published by a second company besides DC. Forget playing (I've always said) seventh-fiddle to Superman, he should be the Top Dog of his own world.

    I also think that Captain Marvel's underuse from the 70s - today is mostly because he was gone from the '50s to the '70s, in much the same way that the Civil War was more or less inevitable from the moment the USA was founded with a blind eye toward slavery. Saying that Shazam was hurt more by his underuse from the '70s onward than by his nonexistence from the '50s 'til then doesn't make sense, because the earlier event caused the latter.
    I felt that DC made an earnest effort towards promoting Captain Marvel/SHAZAM! during the time that the TV series was on the air, but after the show ran its course, DC kind of gave up. They kept Captain Marvel/SHAZAM! in the comics fitfully over the years, and occasionally threw the franchise a bone in assorted animated works, but never again the full-court press that DC initially applied during the 1970s revival.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Buried Alien View Post
    I felt that DC made an earnest effort towards promoting Captain Marvel/SHAZAM! during the time that the TV series was on the air, but after the show ran its course, DC kind of gave up. They kept Captain Marvel/SHAZAM! in the comics fitfully over the years, and occasionally threw the franchise a bone in assorted animated works, but never again the full-court press that DC initially applied during the 1970s revival.

    Buried Alien (The Fastest Post Alive!)
    The funny thing is that Otto Binder, who did many of Classic Captain Marvel's stories, would go on to write much of Superman's "Silver Age" exploits, including introducing the Supergirl character. I seriously believe that had Fawcett Publishing continued to put out a Cap series, it would have been similar to Superman's published exploits. Also, DC (or Marvel Comics) would have bought out Fawcett's comic book line, having done so to other comic book lines (i.e. Charlaton Comics), due to market forces.

    But let's just say Marvel Comics had gotten the rights to SHAZAM! We'd have the name, but would Carol Danvers wield the power of SHAZAM?

  8. #8
    The Fastest Post Alive! Buried Alien's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dswynne View Post
    The funny thing is that Otto Binder, who did many of Classic Captain Marvel's stories, would go on to write much of Superman's "Silver Age" exploits, including introducing the Supergirl character. I seriously believe that had Fawcett Publishing continued to put out a Cap series, it would have been similar to Superman's published exploits. Also, DC (or Marvel Comics) would have bought out Fawcett's comic book line, having done so to other comic book lines (i.e. Charlaton Comics), due to market forces.

    But let's just say Marvel Comics had gotten the rights to SHAZAM! We'd have the name, but would Carol Danvers wield the power of SHAZAM?
    If Marvel Comics had acquired the SHAZAM! franchise, Carol Danvers likely never would have come into existence; she would have been Mary Marvel.

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  9. #9
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    If Fawcett had continued to publish Captain Marvel, Atlas would never have become Marvel Comics. If anything, Fawcett might have morphed into its own Marvel Comics. In fact, Joe Simon probably wouldn't have had the chutzpah to steal the Captain Marvel concept for the Fly at Archie Comics--and Stan Lee would never have stolen that idea for Spider-Man.

    Even if Fawcett has ceased publishing Captain Marvel and sold it to DC--Atlas would never have dared call itself Marvel Comics, let alone create its own Captain Marvel. But Carmine Infantino would probably have designed a different costume for the Flash--one that didn't look so much like CM's outfit.

    Cap would have evolved alongside Flash and Green Lantern to be an updated concept. Maybe with Otto Binder, Pete Costanza and Kurt Schaffenberger continuiing to work on the character--but for a new editor like Schwartz or Kanigher. If Wonder Woman and Blackhawk could survive so long, then so could CM.
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  10. #10
    Savior of the Universe Flash Gordon's Avatar
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    I'd imagine that he would never have gone away and would have retained popularity.
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  11. #11
    Ultimate Member MajorHoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flash Gordon View Post
    I'd imagine that he would never have gone away and would have retained popularity.
    You weren't around in the 1950s, were you . . .

  12. #12
    Mighty Member krazijoe's Avatar
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    Superman has hurt him more than anything...

  13. #13
    Fantastic Member Eto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MajorHoy View Post
    You weren't around in the 1950s, were you . . .
    How old are you? 0.o

  14. #14
    Fantastic Member Eto's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=
    The SHAZAM! movie is doing well, and hopefully, elevates the entire franchise's popularity to a level it hasn't seen since at least the 1970s, but is that as far as SHAZAM! can go in spite of the film's success due to the franchise's extended underexposure over the decades?
    [/QUOTE]


    Hopefully the film will generate more interest among (non)comic book fans who normally wouldn't read his book.
    Yeah, it's sad it took so long, truly a shame.
    I love what Johns is doing currently. Such a great book!

  15. #15
    Ultimate Member MajorHoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eto View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by MajorHoy View Post
    You weren't around in the 1950s, were you . . .
    How old are you? 0.o
    Oh, I wasn't born until just after the 1950s, but I'm well aware that very few superheroes really survived that period in comic books unscathed. Even characters like Batman had to make major changes in direction to get by (more science fiction / aliens in stories) until the start of the Silver Age took hold in the mid-1950s.

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