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FIRST LOOK: Captain Marvel takes flight -- but will he ever reach the big screen?

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Will we ever hear the word ‘Shazam!’ on the big screen? In the the golden age of the 1940s, Captain Marvel outsold Superman for a time and the concept of the character -- a youngster who utters a magic word and is transformed into the World’s Mightiest Mortal -- seems tailor-made for a family film and there has been plenty of efforts put into making the movie happen.

Back in 2007, before this blog even existed, I sat down for lunch with screenwriter John August who was pulsing with excitement about the movie, but the magic lightning never hit.

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I suspect we will see Captain Marvel take flight now that Diane Nelson and Geoff Johns are at the fore of a new Warner Bros. initiative to better mine the DC library but don’t be surprised if the hero is at the center of a live-action, prime-time television series instead of a feature film. There are some rumblings about going in that direction although it’s too early to call it much more than focused chatter.

Also, consider this: August (and others in Hollywood) liked the idea of adding a time-limit component to the character’s traditional mythology; essentially, Billy Batson would only be able to inhabit his super-powered alter ego for, say, an hour at a time.

That would add opportunities for peril and also explain why Batson would ever bother shifting back to his more mundane identity. The time-limit and transformation scenes would make the character a natural for episodic television -- just like ‘The Incredible Hulk,’ arguably the best comic-book adaptation in network television history.

In the meantime, Captain Marvel will step into the spotlight with a new animated adventure: ‘Superman/Shazam! The Return of Black Adam,’ which premieres on Blu-ray and DVD on Nov. 9 as the centerpiece of ‘DC Showcase,’ a collection of shorts from the Warner Premiere that also features Jonah Hex, Green Arrow and the Spectre. The four shorts add up to about an hour.

The Captain Marvel short -- you can see some images above -- features voice work by Jerry O’Connell (‘Crossing Jordan') as Captain Marvel, Arnold Vosloo (‘The Mummy') as bad-guy Black Adam and George Newbern reprising his ‘Justice League’ role as Superman. Also, two-time Emmy Award winner James Garner (‘The Rockford Files') as the Wizard.

-- Geoff Boucher

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ARTWORK: DC Comics/Warner Premiere


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