First, the comics. The Jeff Smith/Mike Kunkel continuity is obviously set in the alternate Johnny DC universe, and is aimed at younger readers. I think story wise it is fine, but I feel Kunkel's art is too Looney Tunes. I prefer art closer to the C.C. Beck model.
I want to spend more time on what is supposed to be the official DCU version. I hate the new interpretation of the Marvel Family in "Trials", "Countdown", and "Final Crisis". Garbage. Turning Billy Batson/Captain Marvel into the wizard Marvel is not only a creative mishap, it denys us fans all the potential situations the classic boy turns into superhero concept has to offer. DC has barely scratched the surface in the 35 plus years they've had Captain Marvel. DC chose to treat him as a watered down version of Superman. Now, as Marvel, he gets to be a watered down version of Dr Fate.
What have they done to our beloved Mary Marvel? DC turned her into an evil sex fiend. We've seen heroes turn evil so many times with Black Adam, Hal Jordan, Terra, and others, doing it to Mary is stale and pointless, and only proves DC writers/editors are out of ideas, have no creativity, possibly no talent, or at least, are very lazy. Remember, Mary is only 14 years old, so what DC is doing is not only in bad taste and disturbing, but it may also be borderline child pornography. We do not need the Marvels to vere off into adult oriented territory, like all of DC's other superheroes.
Having Freddy Freeman take over the spotlight as Shazam seems to be the best concept of the three characters, but the execution of it is awful. The character comes off as a badly written Buffy The Vampire Slayer reject. I don't mind having the Marvels fight monsters/magic occasionally, as some of thier traditional villains like King Kull and Ibac would qualify, but to permanently put them in a Dungeons & Dragons pigeon hole is way off base. Superman has a sci-fi based origin, yet DC hasn't mandated all his adventures must be of a Star Wars niche.
I suggest DC, at the end of "Final Crisis", write off these last few years of Marvel Family history as happening to alternate versions on an alternate earth. Then bring back the "real" Marvel Family in a new, on-going title, SHAZAM COMICS. Alex Ross would get the Shazam franchise back to its full glory. His interpretaion in "Justice" and "Power Of Hope" is the most definitive take on the characters in DC's 35+ year reign, with the possible exception of the late, great E Nelson Bridwell's work. Ross respects the character and the classic Fawcett continuity, and completely understands Captain Marvel fans, being one himself. Alex Ross should have creative control of the new title, assisted by his favorite collaborators. (For sentimental reasons, I'd like to see Alan Weiss, who drew the greatest DC Captain Marvel story ever- "Shazam" vol. 1, no. 34 - to pencil at least the first six issues. Rich Burchett, with his Fawcettesque style, would also be an ideal choice to work on the title, as penciller or inker.)
Obviously, I care very much about the Captain Marvel movie, Billy Batson & The Legend Of Shazam, to be directed by Peter Segal from a John August script, and desperately want it made correctly. I unquestionably do not want it to be a campy comedy, but the definitive Capt Marvel movie must have a lot of humor and fun, and it must be balanced out with drama and pathos and action-adventure. It must have breath taking special effects, and be filmed in IMAX. I dare say, on a strictly visual level, the film may do well to be stylized in the manner of the Adam West Batman series in use of colors and tilted camera angles (the latter often used by film maker Orson Wells). The final shooting script must not be based on the current DC comics. It is the Fawcett Captain Marvel of the 1940s-50s which should be the source material for the film (as producer Michael Uslan once promised).
In interviews, Segal said the movie will be like Big with superpowers. References to Big are all wrong, because Capt Marvel is NOT a 12 year old with a super powered adult body. When Mary and Freddy transform, they stay Mary and Freddy with the addition of super powers. However Billy and Cap, while they share the same memories and thoughts, and may have similar personalities, they are quite different. Some experts have suggested Billy and Cap may be the same person, but at different points of thier time line. Either way, Cap should not act like a 12 year old. He has the wisdom of Solomon, which should make him more mature/less headstrong than Billy. Under no circumstances do I want to see a scene where Capt Marvel learns how to be a superhero by reading Superman comic books. Such a scene would instantly condemn this movie. As in the Fawcett comics, Billy should be the star of the movie (and the title suggests that). Its his adventures we follow. It is only when he gets into a fix he cannot get out of does he call upon Captain Marvel, almost like a genie, to make things right. Neither does it occur to Billy to just stay Capt Marvel, because in essence, he's not really Capt Marvel, even though they appear to be a single person. Actually, it would be Capt Marvel deciding never to turn back into Billy, but he would never consider such an evil thought. I speculate the creators of Capt Marvel had the Old Testament book of Tobit in mind as a muse. In it, the mighty archangel Saint Raphael takes the form of a teen while among mortals. I suggest all Capt Marvel fans read this book. If you don't have a Bible with the deuterocanonical books, you can read Tobit at http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/tobit/tobit1.htm
Segal must get Alex Ross to be the film's creative consultant. The film should use Ross' version of Captain Marvel's uniform, but it shouldn't be skintight spandex or muscle enhancing rubber. The model of Tom Tyler's costume from the serial should be used, where the top is more of a jacket, and the pants, while snug, are not actual tights. Ironically, my favorite line of dialogue about Cap comes from Frank Miller's "Dark Knight Strikes Again" when Wonder Woman asks a dying Captain Marvel where he goes when the magic word is spoken. He replies (and I hope this line will be used in the movie), "Where does a wish go? Where does a dream go when you wake up?"
Some other modern DC concepts I do like and want to see used in the movie include Roy Thomas' "The New Beginning" idea of Dudley being Billy's real uncle/guardian. It'd be fun to have them living in an old Winebago motor home, giving a wink to the 70s TV series. Dudley could be Billy's maternal uncle with his last name Mentor. From Jerry Ordway's "Power Of Shazam" I like the stable, loving adopted parents the Bromfields are to Mary, and the overall art deco, carnival midway look of Fawcett City. In Michael Eury's unpublished "Word Of Power", I like how Mr Tawny the Talking Tiger was the result of Dr Sivana's experiements in mutation and evolution (Sivana must be a mad scientist, not a billionaire businessman or an attorney general).
Mary and Freddy should be supporting characters the film, but they shouldn't get thier powers until the sequels. Freddy's ultimate tragic turn could be played up by having a heartfelt, sympathetic portrayal of his grandpa. The Fawcett comics implied Freddy was Jewish. It should be made fact in the film (his grandpa could wear a yamarkule). Since Captain Nazi may be too much of a relic of the past, perhaps its time to alter Capt Marvel Jr's origin in the movies so it is Black Adam who cripples Freddy and kills his grandpa. In Old Testament times, when Black Adam would have existed, Jews were slaves to the Egyptians, so like Captain Nazi, Black Adam could have a dislike for Jews. Billy and Freddy could meet Mary during the course of the film, and the shocker at the end could be Billy finding out she's his twin sister (the Fawcett plot of the Bromfield nanny replacing the dead Bromfield infant with newborn Mary Batson in the hospital nursery).
Remember in Superman, where one of his first public acts was to rescue a cat from a tree? In BB&TLOS, I hope one of Captain Marvel's first missions is to stop an attempted Columbine style attack on Billy's jr high school. I can imagine a chilling scene where Black Adam single handedly attacks Fawcett City, echoing 9/11. Then a major battle between Captain Marvel and Black Adam that would literally span the globe and leave destruction in thier wake. Instead of people gathering to watch, like its some harmless prize fight (a la Superman II), I'd rather see people fleeing in terror, as the army arrives to help evacuate the city.
Perhaps the most infamous Captain Marvel fan was/is Elvis Presley. The definitive Captain Marvel movie must have an Elvis soundtrack. "If I Can Dream" would be a perfect theme song. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEO7uu1Pp8I
Many of his underappreciated 60s tracks would fit the film perfectly, like "Long Legged Girl" for Beautia, "What A Wonderful Life" and "Follow That Dream" for Billy, "Angel" for Mary, "All I Needed Was The Rain" for Dudley, "That's Someone You'll Never Forget" for Billy's crush on Beautia, "Kiss Me Quick" for Beautia's longing for Captain Marvel, etc. As for the instrumental musical score, Michael Nesmith (Elephant Parts and Time Rider) should compose it. Perhaps Duane Eddy's hit instrumental "Shazam" could be incorporated into the score.
A fun bit of stunt casting would be to cast Detroit/Cleveland TV legend "The Ghoul" in a cameo as an on-air personality at station WHIZ. See website http://www.theghoul.com
Another cameo should go to Jim Nabors, who kept the word "Shazam" alive in the 60s when no Capt Marvel comics were published.
-to be con't-
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