Everything you need to know about Shazam


Shazam has nearly debuted in theaters, and we’re excited to see the DCEU embrace another family-focused film. However, there are a few things you should know about Shazam.

From Shazam to Captain Sparkle Fingers, Captain Thunder, and even Captain Marvel, Billy Batson has a long list of names, and an even longer history to officially becoming a DC Comics hero. Like most things DC, comics, and superheroes, Billy Batson has a strange start to superherodom. Comics have a proclivity for weird characters. Most comic book heroes have a complicated back story. While Billy Batson’s story of becoming a DC Comics hero is pretty complex, his rise to becoming Shazam is simple: A kind-hearted kid gets some magical powers. His journey to becoming a hero is simpler than the one to his current heroic moniker, but there’s still a lot to discuss when it comes to Shazam.

You’re probably here because you’re ramping up to see Shazam in theaters. We don’t blame you. It’s funny, charming, and it embraces family. Whether you’re already a Shazam fan and you just need a refresher on his comic book origins or you’re a new Shazam stan, welcome to the family and here’s everything you need to know about your new favorite kid hero.

How Billy became Captain Sparkle Fingers

Billy was born with the heart of a hero. Seriously, he was chosen to be a hero because of his gallant moral code. Because he’s such a pure person, the universe took notice… if the universe was personified in an ancient wizard named Mamaragan (or Shazam).

His innate altruism made Shazam, the wizard, bequeath his powers to Billy because he trusted him to do the right thing and to carry on the heroic legacy of Shazam. See, Billy’s heroic origin story is magical. However, the wizard basically watches Billy for years before choosing him as his successor. He sees how Billy repeatedly deals with the obstacles in his life, especially his family-based hardships.

In one iteration of his comic backstory, Billy has to cope with his parents’ deaths. Then, he’s separated from his sister and lives with his uncle for a brief period of time — before his uncle steals Billy’s inheritance and kicks him out. It’s a sad arc, but also a critical beginning to his rise to superhero status because Shazam notices how Billy doesn’t become a bitter or volatile person. Even when he has plenty of opportunities to become a terrible person, Billy is still and has always been a do-gooder through and through.

Magic and magical words alike are key to Shazam’s power source and heroic origins. Think catchphrases. Every hero, anti-hero, and sometimes even villains need some kind of phrase (or two). For Billy, saying “Shazam” ignites his canonical duel persona, which every hero has. Seriously, shouting his catchphrase turns Billy into a hyper-powerful hero, and that should be reason enough to embrace the Shazam fandom.

His powers

Arguably, Billy’s on-screen family is one of the strongest components in his powerful arsenal. Since he lives in a foster family, the movie itself emboldens the heartfelt story about Billy’s family and how they support him as a person and a superhero. Shazam isn’t just a way for Billy to transform into a powerful hero, “Shazam” is actually an acronym for the sources of his powers. S is for the wisdom of Solomon; H for Hercules’ strength; A for Atlas’ stamina; Z for Zeus’ power; A for Achilles’ bravery; finally, M for Mercury’s speed. However, Billy still draws his abilities from a few other sources, too.

Frankly, we’re just glad that the film has given Billy such a supportive family, but having a loving family isn’t technically a superpower (even though we’d personally disagree). Not to worry though, because Billy has a lengthy list of abilities:

  • Anapel’s Compassion: Part of his powers come from the Goddess Anapel. His compassion of Anapel gives him a lot of innate knowledge.
  • Clairvoyance: This secondary ability also allows Anapel herself to chime in and give Billy advice. After all, who wouldn’t want an all-knowing goddess as an intermittent life coach?
  • Divine Grace: This is undeniable proof that Billy Batson is graceful… no matter what the trailers might tell you.
  • S’ivaa Strength: Just as this power suggests, it makes him super strong.
  • Boldness of Ate: Beyond making him a virtually indestructible mortal, this power gives him increased speed, like Achilles, quick reflexes, the power of flight, and immortality (sort of… as long as he doesn’t phase out of his Shazam-powered form).
  • Enhanced Jumping: Bounce houses have nothing on Billy, because he can leap higher than the average human (and a lot of meta-humans, too).
  • H’ronmeer’s Fiery Blaze: Okay, it’s officially called “The Fires of H’ronmeer,” but Billy would agree this sounds way cooler. In any case, he has the ability to breathe fire thanks to the Martian God of Fire (H’ronmeer). Plus, he can control fire, once he gets the hang of it that is.
  • The Lightning of Mamaragan: Yep, Billy can harness electrokinetic energy and form lightning bolts. Plus, Mamaragan gives him heighten healing rates.
  • Teleportation: This one should be self-explanatory.

Basically, he has the power of multiple gods and the benevolent humanity to wield them without abusing his mythical powers.

Comic book suggestions

The best part of comic book characters getting their movie or television debut is the opportunity to gain mainstream popularity. More popularity means more fans, which means we can to yammer on about one of our favorite characters to even more people.

While we suggest new Shazam fans start their comic adventures with the Shazam! (1973) reboot (there are 35 issues in total), we don’t blame you if you want to start with Shazam’s pre-DC Comics days in Whiz Comics. After all, we understand nerdy nostalgia here.

For research purposes, we have a few other comic book collection suggestions:

  • Shazam: The World’s Mightiest Mortal Vol. 1
  • Power of Shazam
  • Superman/Shazam!: First Thunder Deluxe Edition
  • Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil
  • Billy Batson & The Magic of Shazam! (2008)
  • Shazam! (2011)
  • Shazam! (2019)

Regardless of his new spotlight, Billy Batson is canonically a kindhearted and well-intended kid and hero. His powers might not help him with his homework… well, his Anapel-based powers might. Still, he devotes his abilities to the greater good, and his persistent selflessness makes him one of the best superheroes in history.

Handling one superpower let alone a dozen (give or take) is a tough responsibility, especially for a child, but we know Mamaragan chose the right successor.

Related Story. Shazam’s leaked movie stills reveal a very special cameo. light

You don’t need to be a comic book elitist or be an expert on Billy Batson’s strange history with multiple different comic book companies to enjoy Shazam, but the upcoming DC film will make you reappreciate heroism and Shazam himself. After all, Billy is one of the best good guys you’ll ever meet.

Watch Shazam! in theaters on April 5, 2019.