Adventures of Captain Marvel Image

Adventures of Captain Marvel

By Alan Ng | April 14, 2023

Will the real Captain Marvel please stand up? The original Captain Marvel appeared on the pages of Whiz Comics in 1939, and his first film adaptation came in William Witney and John English’s Adventures of Captain Marvel in 1941. Their version of Cap was Republic Pictures’ first superhero comic book adaptation in their collection of 66 film serials. But how does it hold up?

Adventures of Captain Marvel opens on an archaeological expedition of the Scorpion Kingdom in Siam’s Valley of the Tombs. A group of scholars and archaeologists, along with junior explorer Billy Batson (Frank Coghlan Jr.), are about the enter a forbidden temple. Warned of a sacred curse, Billy decides it’s wrong to desecrate this ancient tomb and plunder a foreign land’s treasures (ah, colonialism). Nevertheless, he insists on staying behind.

Because of Billy’s virtuous character for not entering the temple, the wizard bestows upon Billy the powers of Shazam.”

The explorers uncover a powerful device known as the Golden Scorpion. When a series of lenses are aligned perfectly on the Scorpion, it creates a powerful energy beam that can be used as a weapon and even transfigures other metals into gold. Realizing its destructive power, the team decides to take a piece of the Scorpion and hide it from one another.

Adventures of Captain Marvel then catches Billy finds himself in the presence of a powerful being known as Shazam (Nigel De Brulier). Because of Billy’s virtuous character for not entering the temple, the wizard bestows upon Billy the powers of Shazam. When Billy utters “Shazam,” he is transformed into Captain Marvel (Tom Tyler) — a heroic figure who is given the Wisdom of Solomon, Strength of Hercules, Stamina of Atlas…” You know the rest.

When the expedition returns to America, one by one, the archeologists are murdered by the villainous Scorpion and his henchmen. The industrious Billy Batson, with the help of his colleagues, Betty Wallace (Louise Currie), Whitey Murphy (William Benedict), and the powerful Shazam, investigates the murders. Billy ultimately learns he has to stop the Scorpion’s plans for world domination.

Adventures of Captain America (1941)

Directed: John English, William Witney

Written: Ronald Davidson, Normal S. Hall, Arch Heath

Starring: Tom Tyler, Frank Coghlan Jr., William Benedict, Louise Currie, etc.

Movie score: 7/10

Adventures of Captain America Image

"…the early days of fantasy films are reasons for taking in the mythology of the first Captain Marvel..."

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