Modern adaptation of cult classic character a success

Despite the title implying that this is a sequel it is actually a stand alone feature unrelated to other adaptations. The story concerns the former student of the wizard Shazam (James Garner) known as Black Adam (Arnold Voosloo) who has returned after thousands of years spent exiled in space. Billy Batson (Zach Collison) is a young kid in Fawcett City and trying to maintain a positive outlook on life. It is not long before Black Adam tracks him down believing him to one day inherit superpowers from the wizard Shazam. Lucky for Billy, Superman (George Newbern) shows up and engages in a city wide fight with Black Adam. During all of this Billy escapes in a subway tunnel and meets the wizard and faces his destiny in becoming Captain Marvel. (Jerry O’Connell)

“Shazam!” When spoken by young Billy Batson, he is transformed into Captain Marvel, “the world’s mightiest mortal!” Captain Marvel (now known as Shazam) first originated all the way back in 1939 in comic books published by the company Fawcett comics. He was the first superhero to be adapted on film and was one of the most popular comics throughout the 1940s.

Throughout the 1950s National Comics (known today as DC Comics) tried to sue Fawcett for copyright infringement on the grounds that Captain Marvel was a rip off of Superman. Their lawsuit was successful and Captain Marvel faded into relative obscurity.

In the 1970s DC Comics obtained the rights to use Captain Marvel and his supporting cast in their own works. He has been published in a number of revivals which have been met with mixed success.

He is often featured as a secondary character and has not had much of chance to regain his popularity from the 1940s. A live action movie based on the character titled “Shazam” is scheduled for release in 2019, but until then this will be the closest the character has to a modern movie adaptation.

“Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam” was released in 2010 as part of the DC comics showcase line, which was a series of various short films featuring DC comics characters. At approximately 25 minutes, this is the longest of the DC showcase series.

The animation is very well done. Still images look and feel like something out of the best comic books. The movement is fluid and smooth. The voice acting fits for each respective character. For example, Captain Marvel is full of childlike wonder, while Black Adam is filled with anger and evil.

My only real disappointment with this short is that aside from saving Billy a couple of times, Superman’s role is little more than a punching bag for Black Adam. It is not really a story about Superman, which is fine but there really isn’t much need for him to be present in this.

It also suffers from a short running time at 25 minutes which is both good and bad. It’s good because the plot is not enough to sustain a longer feature but it’s also too short to allow much room for depth and expansion.

The feature as whole amounts to little more than slugfest, a few people out there view superhero stories and comic books as mindless action, and if you’re in that category than this will do very little to change your mind. There is some story behind it all and it is a real joy seeing Billy learning to use his powers as Captain Marvel and discovering that strength is more than brute force. There are moments that feel like cinematic and show the potential a character like Captain Marvel could have in the world of movies. As a whole “Superman/Shazam the return of Black Adam” is a decent viewing experience, worth a watch.