I’M CAPTAIN MARVEL.
I can explain away everything else, including the current movie. But that’s it! Existentially.
I was the kid back in the early fifties who shouted SHAZAM to transform myself into a superhero. It wasn’t just a matter of being a fan. I put on the cape, climbed to the top of the backyard fence and jumped off with my little sister Mike beside me. She was Mary Marvel. Michael McVaugh, the kid down the block, was Captain Marvel Jr. We did it almost every day… for years. Yes! I was the guy. I was Captain Marvel.
I still am.
Of course, the Captain Marvel who was my alter ego morphed into a female superhero and eventually into a feminist icon because of a series of lawsuits between (to way oversimplify things) DC comics who finally ended up owning him, and Stan Lee and the Marvel Comics Empire, who didn’t own him. Imagine Captain Marvel being a property of anyone but Marvel Comics. I mean, I don’t think that DC originally came up with a character named Captain Marvel just to stick it to their rival Marvel comics. But if they did… how cool is that?
Some of the legal machinations over this issue involved the different comic book companies trying to come up with defensible variations on the same theme by changing Captain Marvel’s name to SHAZAM (the magic word the comic book kid, Billy Batson, said in order to turn into Captain Marvel). They also created various other superheroes that wore the same costumes but had different names, and eventually, they came up with a female version of Captain Marvel called… Captain Marvel. Good for them.
And speaking of Carol Danvers (the Captain Marvel character in the new movie), You’ll be able to read a lot about how she evolved from a minor player in older comic books to the woman we’ll be celebrating over the next few months if the movie’s box office receipts are good (or forgetting about if they’re not).
Apparently, what you won’t be able to read much about these days is the more fascinating story: the legal morphing of one of the oldest of superheroes into one of the newest. The details of all those exciting courtroom battles are suddenly tough to find. Do you get a sense that some big movie company would prefer that everyone just forget about it?
It appears that DC and Marvel have at least agreed on a truce long enough for both of them to make a lot of money on Captain Marvel. So it all looks good, and of course, I don’t care if the Captain is a man or a woman as long as he/she’s for, you know, “truth, justice, and the American way.” Damn, where did that come from… oh yeah, Superman… who started all the lawsuits because his creators said that Captain Marvel was just a Superman rip off and sued over that idea. But that’s another story.
Anyway, I definitely want to see the movie. And I hope Ms. Marvel does me, my little sister Mike, Michael McVaugh, and all the rest of my gang on Eglantine road really, really proud.