In addition to the comic-book adventures discussed in earlier nodes, the original Captain Marvel has also appeared in motion picture and on television.

In 1941, Republic made a 12-part serial entitled The Adventures of Captain Marvel. In this version of things, Billy Batson acquires the magic ability to become Captain Marvel while on an archaological expedition in Siam (modern Thailand-- but here it's basically a low-budget version of Hollywood's mysterious east). The other five on the expedition discover an ancient, powerful weapon called the Scorpion which consists of five lenses. The explorers keep these separate so that none will have its world-shaking power.

Captain Marvel soon finds himself facing a villain called the Scorpion who wants to steal all five lenses.

Frank Coglan, Jr. plays Billy Batson; Tim Tyler plays Captain Marvel. Tyler looks like the comic book superhero, but his voice was less than heroic, so he gets very little dialogue. A puff of smoke covers the transformation.

The next crack at the Captain occured on television, from 1974-1976, with Shazam!. This Filmation Saturday morning live-action show featured a teenage Billy Batson (Michael Gray) and his Mentor (Les Tremayne) travelling "the highways and byways of the land" in an RV, conspiciously marked with Captain Marvel's insignia, "to right wrongs, develop understandings and seek justice for all!" Billy's power comes not from an ancient wizard, but from the "immortal Elders"-- Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury. These Elders were contacted via a gizmo covered with flashing colored lights, and they were played by a flat drawing with animated lips and a voiceover. They would give Billy and his Mentor cryptic warnings about the week's plot.

After hearing from the Elders, Billy and the old man would drive around until they encountered a runaway or someone involved with drugs and try to straighten things out. Eventually, a crisis would develop which would require Billy to yell, "Shazam!" and turn into Captain Marvel, played by Jackson Bostwick in the first season and John Davey thereafter. The transformation reused the same footage each week; likewise, most shots of the Captain airborne reused the same special effects film. At the end of each episode, Captain Marvel would land (he always looked like he was leaping from an off-camera stepladder) and restate the moral for the kids at home.

The last two seasons saw the show followed by a live-action heroine named Isis; in some episodes, she and Captain Marvel would crossover and join forces.

During the time of this show's run, DC, now in control of the Fawcett-created rival to Superman, modified Billy's life to resemble the show. He left behind the rest of the Marvel Family, drove off in the RV with Uncle Dudley (refashioned to look like the tv mentor, who was never given a proper name), and the Elders were assigned to take over his guidance, so that he wouldn't have to constantly return to the Rock of Eternity to consult the wizard Shazam. These changes disappeared once the show was cancelled.

A Filmation Shazam! cartoon ran in 1981. Part of the Kid Super Power Hour, it remained faithful to the original Fawcett comic book. The Captain has since reappeared in various DC superhero cartoons.

"The Adventures of Captain Marvel." The Marvel Family Web.

"Shazam!" The Marvel Family Web.


"Shazam!" TV Tome.