James Gunn took to Twitter to side with Zachary Levi's claim that Shazam! is the original Captain Marvel. Shazam! will be the next DC comics movie to begin production, following the releases of Justice League and Aquaman. David F. Sandberg is on board to direct while it was only recently announced that Zachary Levi is playing the title character. In addition to being an accomplished actor, Levi is also a huge comic book fan and knows a lot about the history, which is why Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn is coming to his defense.
Zachary Levi was confirmed as Shazam! by Warner Bros. late last week and the actor immediately began calling the character the original Captain Marvel, which set the internet ablaze with controversy. Many thought that Levi was throwing some shade to the rival MCU since they have their own Captain Marvel character. Brie Larson is starring as Captain Marvel for the MCU in Avengers 4 and her own standalone movie that is expected to go into production early next year. As it turns out, Zachary Levi is correct, DC had the first Captain Marvel and James Gunn has his back. The Guardians of the Galaxy director commented on Twitter that Zachary Levi is correct about Shazam! being the first Captain Marvel. James Gunn had this to say.
"Fan sites: (Zachary Levi) calling Shazam "the original Captain Marvel" is not throwing shade at Marvel. He IS the original Captain Marvel."
James Gunn is also a huge comic book fan and he also knows the history. When it comes to Shazam!, Gunn declared a few years ago that if he could direct any superhero movie, he would have chosen Shazam! and has talked about his love for all comics, regardless of who publishes them.
The character Shazam! as we know him today, started as Captain Marvel. Captain Marvel was a boy named Billy Batson who had the power to transform into a powerful hero by saying "Shazam!," and was originally created in 1939 by writer Bill Parker and artist C.C. Beck for Fawcett Comics. Marvel Comics as we know it today did not exist at this time. Shazam! was extremely popular in the 1940s, but National Comics, which was DC Comics at the time, felt that the character's overall look and powers were basically just a bad rip off of their own Superman. Afterwards, a legal battle took place which eventually led to Fawcett agreeing to stop publication of Shazam!
In the early 1970s, DC Comics decided to license and revive the old Fawcett characters, but by then, Marvel Comics was in full swing and had already trademarked their own character with the name Captain Marvel, which has gone through many changes over the years. Since Marvel now had the rights to the character name, DC was then forced to refer to the original Captain Marvel by a different name, and chose Shazam! as the character's new name. So, technically, Zachary Levi and James Gunn are correct. Levi is not taunting comic book fans that know their history. Check out the history lesson via James Gunn's Twitter account below.
Fan sites: @ZacharyLevi calling Shazam “the original Captain Marvel” is not throwing shade at Marvel. He IS the original Captain Marvel.— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) November 1, 2017