New Line Cinema is in negotiations with DC Comics to acquire feature film rights to "SHAZAM" : The Adventures of Captain Marvel, based on the 60-year old comic book.
"We're pleased to be developing one of the gems of our library with one of our sister companies," said DC publisher Paul Levitz.
DC and New Line share parent company AOL Time Warner.
Originally created in 1940, by artist CC Beck and writer Bill Parker for comic book publishers Fawcett Publications, the stories centered on 'homeless young newspaper seller' Billy Batson, confronted by a mysterious stranger who leads him into the subway system. Suddenly a 'strange' train appears carrying both to the secret lair of the wizard 'Shazam'.
The wizard reveals that Billy has been drafted to fight for good as 'the world's mightest mortal', ordering the boy to say his name "...Shazam ..." an acronym for various 'powerful' mythological/historical figures :
'S' for Solomon for wisdom
'H' for Hercules for strength
'A' for Atlas for stamina
'Z' for Zeus for power (in the form of invulnerability)
'A' for Achilles for courage
'M' for Mercury for speed (and the ability to fly)
Saying the wizard's name "SHAZAM", Billy is suddenly struck by a magic lightning bolt, turning him into an adult superhero, infused with the power of the ages, complete with a gold-trimmed, short-caped, red costume. Saying the name again, he turns back into Billy Batson.
Having passed on his 'curse/blessing', the wizard dies and Billy vows to fulfill his destiny as the new 'chosen one'. He confides in his sister 'Mary Batson' who becomes 'Mary Marvel', a disabled friend 'Freddie Freeman' becomes 'Captain Marvel Jr.' and Billy's 3 cousins, saying "SHAZAM" simultaneously change into 'Lieutenant Marvels'.
Throughout the war years, 'Captain Marvel' proved an easily accessible comic book fantasy, becoming a 15-part feature film serial, starring stunt man/western star Tom Tyler. The comic book itself began outselling industry leader 'Superman', published by National Periodicals (DC).
To this end, National Periodical Publications sued Fawcett Comics for plagiarism, stating similiarities between 'Captain Marvel' and 'Superman'. After years of expensive litigation, cash-strapped Fawcett called it quits and closed up shop. National was awarded the the entire Captain Marvel catalogue, reviving the character through their DC Comics in the early 1970s. At that point, rival comics giant 'Marvel' Comics threatened to sue DC, should DC blatantly publicize the name 'Captain Marvel'. To this end, the character's adventures were published under the "SHAZAM" title (Marvel since creating their own 'Captain Mar-vell' character.)
DC eventually introduced the entire Fawcett line of characters with their 1980's comic book mini-series 'Crisis on Infinite Earths', fully integrating the Captain Marvel characters into the DC Universe ...