It's no secret that both DC and Marvel have a character on their books who goes by the name of Captain Marvel. Indeed, these superheroes are set to go head to head at the box office next year, with their cinematic debuts falling just weeks apart.
How they came to share the same moniker is a long story paved with lawsuits, which dates back to the days when DC was known as National Comics Publications. Back then, it was embroiled in a legal spat with a third publisher, Fawcett Publications.
The now-defunct Fawcett was the original home of Captain Marvel (the current DC version) and his comics were actually the bestselling superhero titles of the 1940s, outperforming even Superman. It was, however, the character's perceived physical resemblance to Superman which put the two publishers on a collision course.
One of the longest and most drawn-out court battles in the history of the industry ensued, and when it came to a head, Fawcett was forced to cease publishing Captain Marvel comics from 1953 onwards. DC snapped up the rights to the hero and his supporting cast, and integrated them into its mainline superhero universe.
It wasn't until 1991 that DC had crossed all of the Ts and dotted the lower-case Js on its Marvel Family deal, and by this point, Marvel Comics had gotten its own Captain Marvel off the ground. This created a huge problem for DC, as it meant they were unable to promote the character they had licensed under his true name.
This forced the publisher to market its Captain Marvel comics under the banner of Shazam, a name derived from his transformational cry. Former DC publisher Carmine Infantino attempted to take the name back in 1974 by adding the subtitle 'The Original Captain Marvel' to Shazam, but the House of M hit him with a cease and desist order. The subtitle was then changed to 'The World’s Mightiest Mortal'.
To set the record straight, DC's Captain Marvel is the original, but the firm cannot claim to have originally created the character.