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Shazam vs Superman: Who Would Win?

Superman has always been the de facto quintessential superhero and the granddaddy of them all. However, unbeknownst to most of us young people is that Superman has a spotlight rival even older than Batman… Captain Marvel!

Photo by Marvel/Disney

April fools!… okay wait, don’t leave. Not that Captain Marvel, this one:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oD7B7oiBtw]

He’s the ORIGINAL Captain Marvel– conceived a year later after Superman (1938 and 1939). However, it’s pretty obvious why the name “Captain Marvel” had to be changed to Shazam!, thanks to Marvel Comics. So what was once Captain Marvel vs Superman is now Shazam vs Superman. How exactly does Shazam compare to the Kryptonian? Here are some quick facts about Shazam’s history with Superman and how he lost his name:

  • He’s originally named Captain Marvel and owned by publisher Fawcett Comics.
  • The two basically had the same powers (super strength, speed, endurance, flight, etc.)
  • DC actually sued Fawcett in 1953 over claims that Captain Marvel was a rip-off of Superman
  • Fawcett had to stop publishing Captain Marvel because of this, however…
  • DC licensed Captain Marvel in 1972 and started publishing him again
  • By 1991, DC had fully acquired the publishing rights to Captain Marvel
  • However, since it went out of print for nearly two decades, the rights to the name “Captain Marvel” went up for grabs
  • So Marvel Comics took it for their very own Captain Marvel
  • DC was forced to rename him Shazam!

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Despite that long struggle, Shazam is finally getting the traction he needs and is returning stronger than ever. He now has his own movie which is based on the New 52 reboot of DC comics:

Photo by DC

Shazam is pretty much just a boy named Billy Batson whose genuine kindness led to a wizard giving him the Wisdom of Solomon, Strength of Hercules, Stamina of Atlas, Power of Zeus, Courage of Achilles, and the Speed of Mercury which lets him transform into a superhero by shouting SHAZAM!– the acronym of all those mythical heroes’ initials.

Same Difference

Still, despite being given new sets of powers and an origin story facelift, he still is one of the few characters comparable to DC’s poster boy, Superman both in powers and image. His powers are the same as Superman minus a few vision quirks, however, Shazam also has the added advantage of having magic at his disposal.

Photo by DC

Depending on which fan you ask, Shazam is equal to or less stronger than Superman but with magic powers to boot. Hence, this brings us back to the original discussion: Shazam vs Superman, Superman vs Shazam, mustard vs ketchup.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8pFKN1vpaw]

First, how exactly are these two different apart from their costume and origin stories?

Superman…

  • Gets his powers (strength, speed, endurance, stamina, durability) from Earth’s yellow sun, brighter suns mean more power, making Superman’s power ceiling “infinite” unless…
  • If he’s exposed to Kyptonite, this can outright kill him or make him weak at the very least
  • Also has heat vision, along with other types of visions
  • Apparently, his one weakness and vulnerability apart from a green rock is against magic

Shazam…

  • Powers (strength, speed, endurance, stamina, durability) are magically bestowed by the gods and its intensity is quite ambiguous as it is magic-based
  • His magic also consists of lightning and the ability to conjure allies out of his family
  • Newest version virtually has no weakness, apart from being a kid or facing someone stronger than him

Sibling Rivalry

Now, the hard part. Who would win in a fair fight between these two major league heavy hitters? Since Kryptonite is hard to obtain and is usually only reserved for Batman’s belt, let’s discount that Superman weakness. In a fair fight, Superman and Shazam will go toe-to-toe and will usually come out equal in strength, probably with Superman having the slight edge. Here’s one of their fights:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BJ1-trrgqc]

It seems Superman won there… or did he? Looking like an obtuse villain and destroying half the city is not exactly a victory for him. Here’s another one:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Im_ksx9NX0s]

Both show Superman having the upper-hand. However, in the comic books, Shazam has beaten Superman on several occasions, there was even a time when he knocked Superman out cold using magic.

Photo by DC

It is also worth noting that Shazam has also equaled the Flash in terms of speed, something which Superman finds difficult.

Photo by DC

Hence, there is no doubt that Shazam can be faster or even stronger than Superman as his powers can be near limitless just like him. There are times where Shazam has beaten Superman but of course, the latter being the Golden Boy of DC puts Shazam at the mercy of the writers most of the time. DC simply can’t and won’t have its strongest Superhero suffering defeat… unless it’s by the hands of an emo billionaire who dresses as a bat and whose mother is named Martha.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfuBzE6qicA]

So there’s our verdict, Superman usually wins just because Shazam is underrated, for now. Shazam can win, but not without losing to Superman in their next showdown to make the power hierarchy clear again. Still, there are other ways Shazam can decisively win in a Shazam vs Superman matchup…

He’s the Superman we never had

While the current version of film or DC Extended Universe (DCEU) Superman is a commendable deviation by Zack Snyder, he’s just far from the Superman we deserve or need. He’s brooding, angry, and dark… basically, Batman. He’s neither a beacon of hope nor a role model, is he? Thankfully, Shazam is the complete opposite of Snyder’s Superman thanks to Zachary Levi’s performance and the director’s general understanding of the character.

Photo by DC

In a sense, Shazam is the Superman we have been looking for, the one who has been missing in the DCEU. We’re already seeing favorable reviews and reception from Shazam! It can be interesting what the DCEU plans to do next with the Justice League now that Superman’s cape is hanging. Hopefully, there is a good chance Shazam can make it into the next Justice League team, he ought to be more likable than the current Superman. In that regard, the clear winner in a Shazam vs Superman bout is the former.

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