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  1. #1
    Astonishing Member Timothy Hunter's Avatar
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    Default Is DC Legally Allowed To Call Billy Batson 'Captain Marvel'

    From the 70s up until Flashpoint, each comic centering around Billy Batson had 'Shazam' in the title, but Billy's codename was 'Captain Marvel' within the pages of the comic. This all changed from the New Fifty Two onward where 'Shazam' wasn't just the magic word it was Billy's siperhero name too.

  2. #2
    Astonishing Member HsssH's Avatar
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    Yes, at some point DC decided that it makes more sense if the character and his book can be called by the same name.

  3. #3
    Mighty Member Jody Garland's Avatar
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    Inside a book? Yeah, they can call him Captain Marvel. The issue is in trademark law, which determines what a product can be sold as. In the case of Captain Marvel, the trademark was snatched up by Marvel back in the 60s and they've followed protocol on it ever since. It's why, in the gap between Mar-Vell and Carol being Captains, they always made sure to have a Captain Marvel book on the stand every few years, even if was a one shot.

    DC didn't decide to bring Captain Marvel into publication again 'till the early 70s, and by then it was too late. After Fawcett got out of the comic biz in '53, no one had had kept up the trademark and it'd lapsed. There's no backsies or anything in trademark law, so DC had to just find the next best name for the book.

  4. #4
    Invincible Member Digifiend's Avatar
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    Yeah, the issue is that DC didn't actually own Billy Batson until the 1980s. When he was first revived in the 1970s, it was under license from Fawcett, who'd stopped publishing comic books but was still active as a magazine publisher. They later bought all of Fawcett's comic characters, and merged them into the main DC Universe in Crisis on Infinite Earths. In 1968 when Marvel trademarked Captain Marvel and created Mar-Vell, Fawcett didn't contest it because they were no longer publishing comics, and DC didn't as they didn't yet have anything to do with the franchise which later became known as Shazam. Basically, DC should've taken Billy on a few years earlier.
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  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by HsssH View Post
    Yes, at some point DC decided that it makes more sense if the character and his book can be called by the same name.
    It probably didn't help that around the time they planned to re-introduce him in the New 52, they were most likely already at least planning to do the movie. If you're planning a big marketing blitz with things like toys and merchandise, not being able to call the main character his actual name on them can be problematic.
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  6. #6
    Boisterously Confused
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digifiend View Post
    Yeah, the issue is that DC didn't actually own Billy Batson until the 1980s. When he was first revived in the 1970s, it was under license from Fawcett, who'd stopped publishing comic books but was still active as a magazine publisher. They later bought all of Fawcett's comic characters, and merged them into the main DC Universe in Crisis on Infinite Earths. In 1968 when Marvel trademarked Captain Marvel and created Mar-Vell, Fawcett didn't contest it because they were no longer publishing comics, and DC didn't as they didn't yet have anything to do with the franchise which later became known as Shazam. Basically, DC should've taken Billy on a few years earlier.
    As Jody said tho, the big issue was Marvel seizing the name. I've read elsewhere it a was a bit of mania with Stan Lee's publisher predecessor, Martin Goodman.

  7. #7
    Invincible Member MajorHoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrNewGod View Post
    As Jody said tho, the big issue was Marvel seizing the name. I've read elsewhere it a was a bit of mania with Stan Lee's publisher predecessor, Martin Goodman.
    Back in the 1960s, Marvel grabbed up a few other dormant Golden Age character names as well besides "Captain Marvel".

    "Daredevil" was another one.




  8. #8
    Invincible Member Digifiend's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrNewGod View Post
    As Jody said tho, the big issue was Marvel seizing the name. I've read elsewhere it a was a bit of mania with Stan Lee's publisher predecessor, Martin Goodman.
    Which they did as soon as they could expand their line when they stopped using DC as their distributor. DC should've seen it coming and pre-empted it. It was only three years later that they got the rights to publish Shazam.
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  9. #9
    Astonishing Member MRP's Avatar
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    Marvel wasn't the first to use the Captain Marvel name for a different super-hero after Fawcwtt ceased doing comics, MF Enterprises had a 4 issue run of this Captain Marvel in 1966...






    so it was up for grabs for a while before Marvel used it.

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  10. #10
    Mighty Member Jody Garland's Avatar
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    I actually think that Cap was done essentially illegally, though there is some gray area in an abandoned trademark. The fact that a bunch of Captain Marvel stories were in the public domain probably complicated manners.

    IIRC, Captain Marvel was one of a number of Marvel related names Goodman trademarked in the late 60s, including Marvelman whom I'm not even sure they knew was an existing character.

  11. #11
    Extraordinary Member Holt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noodle View Post
    It probably didn't help that around the time they planned to re-introduce him in the New 52, they were most likely already at least planning to do the movie. If you're planning a big marketing blitz with things like toys and merchandise, not being able to call the main character his actual name on them can be problematic.
    I distinctly remember when Mortal Kombat vs. DC came out and seeing people confused as to why the character was called Captain Marvel in-game but Shazam in all the marketing. Even the game official website was forced to call him Shazam for promotional purposes, which only added to the confusion of people who weren't familiar with the character.

  12. #12
    Traveler of omniverses Thor-Ul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jody Garland View Post
    I actually think that Cap was done essentially illegally, though there is some gray area in an abandoned trademark. The fact that a bunch of Captain Marvel stories were in the public domain probably complicated manners.

    IIRC, Captain Marvel was one of a number of Marvel related names Goodman trademarked in the late 60s, including Marvelman whom I'm not even sure they knew was an existing character.
    It is? From what I know, not that much I suppose, but what happened to him it is perfectly legal. It can be unfair, but legal.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thor-Ul View Post
    It is? From what I know, not that much I suppose, but what happened to him it is perfectly legal. It can be unfair, but legal.
    Your point about "legal" is valid. It was probably contestable, but legality would have had to be established in a court contest. DC was in no position to field a challenge; the name wasn't one of their properties in 1967, when Marvel launched their Captain Mar-Vell, so they had no legal standing to contest Marvel's move. Fawcett would have had standing, but they had no interest in it apparently. Can't blame them after 20 years of tangling with DC over the character.

    Interestingly (at least to me), [The Real] Captain Marvel seems to have been part of a set of back and forth jabs between Marvel and DC over property names. Marvel creates a Wonder Man throwaway character in 1964, they kill him off in the same story, but DC freaks out because it's the name of the first IP that DC sued somebody over way back in 1939. In 1969, Roy Thomas and Gil Kane give Mar-Vell a make over that suddenly has a lot of Fawcett-Marvel riffs to it. DC licenses Fawcett's IP in 1973, and puts mastheads on him as SHAZAM! The Original Captain Marvel. Marvel rebrands Luke Cage, Hero-for-Hire as Power Man in 1974, two years later, DC introduces Power Girl, and - the same year - Marvel suddenly decides Wonder Man ain't so dead after all.
    Last edited by DrNewGod; 07-29-2021 at 03:10 PM.

  14. #14
    Invincible Member MajorHoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrNewGod View Post
    . . . Marvel creates a Wonder Man throwaway character in 1964, they kill him off in the same story, but DC freaks out because it's the name of the first IP that DC sued somebody over way back in 1939...
    And don't forget DC was still publishing Wonder Woman at that time.

  15. #15
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    Copyrights and trademarks are two different things. Marvel trademarked the lasped Captain Marvel name for the covers and etc.

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