Shazam stars Zachary Levi as the grown-up superhero version of Billy Batson. Batson’s 14-year-old self is played by Asher Angel, who turns into a superhero by shouting one word: Shazam. The DC Comics superhero has had a devoted following since his debut in 1939.
But what does Shazam stand for?
One tidbit many die-hard comic fans know, but casual superhero movie fans may not is Shazam is an acronym.
Each letter in the superhero’s name references a special power, granted by the six immortal elders.
S stands Solomon, from whom wisdom, enhanced intellect, nigh omniscience, and knowledge and focus of the gods are gained.
H is for the superhuman strength granted by Hercules.
A stands for the god Atlas, from whom Billy gets Superhuman stamina invulnerability, superhuman durability and endurance.
Z represents Zeus, the god who grants Billy his most flashy power: unlimited lightning, plus immortality, electricity generation and manipulation, lightning and electricity absorption, and the ability to create electrical force-fields.
A refers to the demigod Achilles’ courage and indomitable will.
M, the last letter in his name, is for the god Mercury who grants Billy superhuman speed and teleportation via the Rock of Eternity.
To confuse matters, however, the wizard who grants Billy the ability to turn into Shazam is also named Shazam (played by Djimon Hounsou).
Equally as puzzling for the casual superhero fan is Shazam’s previous monicker: Captain Marvel.
Shazam first debuted in Whiz Comics, a panel by the now-defunct Fawcett Comics.
In this series, Shazam was solely the name of the wizard, and the superhero into which Billy turned was named Captain Marvel.
But Fawcett went out of business, due in some part to a suit from DC Comics, claiming their Captain Marvel (aka Shazam) infringed on their Superman copyright.
Fawcett’s further Captain Marvel comics were cancelled and the character fell into distant memory.
During this time, DC’s competitor Marvel came with, and trademarked, their own Captain Mar-vell.
DC Comics resurrected Captain Marvel (aka Shazam) via licensing, before purchasing the rights to the character in the 1990s.
The comics of the 90s still featured Billy Batson as Captain Marvel, but he the titles most often referenced Shazam instead.
By 2012, a new series of comics wholly divorced itself from the confusing Captain Marvel name, and Billy Batson was reborn as Shazam.
Shazam is now playing in UK cinemas.