Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941) – Curse of the Scorpion (Chapter 1 )

Adventures of Captain Marvel is a 1941 twelve-chapter film serial directed by John English and William Witney for Republic Pictures, adapted from the popular Captain Marvel comic book character then appearing in Fawcett Comics publications such as Whiz Comics and Captain Marvel Adventures. It starred Tom Tyler (who also played The Phantom)

This is a1941 twelve-chapter film serial directed by John English and William Witney for Republic Pictures and produced by Hiram S. Brown, Jr.

The serial was adapted from the popular Captain Marvel comic book character then appearing in Fawcett Comics publications such as Whiz Comics and Captain Marvel Adventures.

It starred Tom Tyler in the title role of Captain Marvel and Frank Coghlan Jr. as his alter ego, Billy Batson. Also starring William Benedict, Louise Currie, and Robert Strange.

This serial was Republic Pictures first comic book adaptation (not counting comic strips such as Dick Tracy). Spy Smasher, also based on a Fawcett character, would follow in 1942.

The Adventures of Captain Marvel is the story of the Malcolm archaeological expedition which unearths a hidden tomb containing a powerful ancient relic – the Golden Scorpion. This contraption, in the shape of a giant scorpion, features a series of lenses which, when aligned correctly, create an “atom smashing” ray. In an antechamber young Billy Batson, the team’s radio operator and general gopher, encounters the immortal wizard Shazam who grants him the power to change into Captain Marvel. Over the 12 episodes, Captain Marvel endeavors to thwart the attempts of the villainous Scorpion character to obtain all the lenses and activate the contraption.

While the “transformation” effect of Billy to Captain Marvel and vice-versa (i.e. a cloud of smoke) is very basic, the flying effects – especially for the time – are superb. Every episode ends with the requisite life or death cliff-hanger, which is then neatly (and usually quite cleverly) sidestepped at the start of the next episode!

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