What does Shazam stand for? Meaning and superhero's standing, explained

What does Shazam stand for? (image via DC Films/WB Pictures)
What does Shazam stand for? (image via DC Films/WB Pictures)

Shazam is one of the most powerful heroes in the DC Universe. The character's alter-ego is a young teenager named Billy Batson, who, by uttering the word "SHAZAM" transforms into an adult superhero imbued with special abilities such as superhuman strength and speed on par with that of Superman and Black Adam.

The character is played by actor Zachary Levi in the DC Extended Universe film Shazam! (2019). Levi will return in the upcoming Shazam! Fury of the Gods, set to be released in 2023.

Levi's future as the character beyond Fury of the Gods is uncertain, but fans can assume that it will be a positive one, given that the actor is friends with James Gunn and Peter Safran, who are the current heads of DC Studios and are planning their reboot, which will begin, according to Gunn, following Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom (2023).

During San Diego Comic Con 2022, when a fan asked him about his character's future, Levi even joked that Gunn and Safran would not be his friends anymore if they did not have any plans for him moving forward.

"So, your question is, 'If those two are my bosses, is there a plan and a future for Shazam!?' I would say, 'Yeah.' I would hope so.' Those are my friends, and if they don't have a plan, then they are not my friends anymore. No sir."

Shazam's comic origins and the meaning of the word he utters have always been a topic of conversation among fans and will be explored further here.

Character history and the meaning of "Shazam"

Comic origins

Shazam in the comics (image via DC)
Shazam in the comics (image via DC)

In the comics, Shazam is the name of the wizard who grants both Billy Batson and Black Adam their powers after choosing them as champions. Both Batson and Adam get their powers after uttering the wizard's name once. In Batson's case, he utters it again to return to his young human form.

Originally, the wizard was a man named Jebediah from Canaan, who was bestowed with the powers of the gods from the Canaanite pantheon. He then came to be known as one of Earth's first superheroes, The Champion, and became the keeper of the Rock of Eternity.


When he became old, he began the search for a successor. He first chose an Egyptian man named Teth-Adam and bestowed him with his powers only to regret the decision later, after Adam was corrupted by the influence of his powers. He then banished Adam and rechristened him as Black Adam.

His next successor was a good-hearted teenager named Billy Batson, who chose the wizard's name as his superhero name.

Billy Batson's original superhero name was Captain Marvel until 2011. Due to trademark conflicts with Marvel Comics, who had several superheroes under the moniker of Captain Marvel, Batson's superhero name was rebranded as Shazam, and the character's line of comic runs used that name moving forward.


A full breakdown of the word "Shazam"

The name Shazam is an acronym comprising the first letters of the names of four important figures of the Greek pantheon, one Biblical figure, and one Roman god. By uttering the word, Billy, in addition to becoming an adult, gains the powers and attributes of the following figures:

  • The wisdom of Solomon
  • The strength of Hercules
  • The stamina of Atlas
  • The power of Zeus
  • The courage of Achilles
  • The speed of Mercury
Billy Batson (image via DC Films/WB Pictures)
Billy Batson (image via DC Films/WB Pictures)

With the wisdom of Solomon, Billy gains scholarly knowledge, near-infallible wisdom, a deep understanding of languages and sciences, as well as a photographic memory and full knowledge of his experiences with immaculate clarity. Solomon is not a Greek god but rather a Biblical prophet, who was known for his wisdom and aptitude for knowledge and learning.

With the strength of Hercules, Billy gains superhuman strength, which rivals that of Superman, who is considered to be the strongest superhero in the DC Universe. With the power of Hercules, he can finish laborer tasks in a short span of time, produce shockwaves by clapping his hands, punch through structures, and lift massive, heavy objects.

With Atlas' stamina, Billy's body produces fewer fatigue toxins and as such he requires little to no rest. His durability is also increased to superhuman levels and he can endure powerful strikes or massive attacks from other superheroes and supervillains. His healing factor also becomes so powerful that he recovers from injuries or physical harm at a faster rate.

With Zeus' power, Billy's five human senses are enhanced to superhuman levels and he becomes resistant to all kinds of magic spells and attacks. He can also use the lightning that gives him his superhuman form as a weapon by dodging it and letting it strike opponents. With this power, he can easily weaken Superman, who is vulnerable to magic.

With the courage of Achilles, Billy's mental fortitude is enhanced, and he gains immense willpower, resolve as well as discipline that comes to his aid in times of helplessness and hopelessness.

With Mercury's speed, Billy gains the ability to move at high speeds, rivaling the likes of Flash and Superman. In orbit, he can move at sub-light speeds and in outer space, he can move at trans light speeds.

What else do you think Shazam stand for? Let us know your thoughts and theories down below.

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Edited by Upasya Bhowal