Life is tough for young Billy Batson. Orphaned and alone, he lives in a dingy neighborhood in a seedy part of town, with rats for pets and little food or commodities. Still, he tries to live by the words of his now-deceased father: "Be good and good things will happen to you", and keeps an upbeat attitude, even complimenting his prostitute neighbor on her appearance and standing up to a gang of punks mugging a homeless man, despite the predictable outcome. He hopes an article being written about him by intrepid Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent will help him out of his predicament.
Unfortunately, Billy's luck takes a turn for the worse when a powerful being called Black Adam comes crashing from the sky with only one goal in mind: Billy's death. Because of his vulnerability to magic, not even the mighty Superman is a match for him, but a strange encounter with an immortal wizard will grant Billy the power of five gods in order to become the new champion of justice: Captain Marvel!
This original short was released as the main "feature" of a compilation of the DC Showcase shorts released with recent DC Universe Animated Original Movies, along with DC Showcase: The Spectre, DC Showcase: Jonah Hex and DC Showcase: Green Arrow.
This short contains examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Well, foster parents anyway.
- Adaptational Villainy: Black Adam lacks any of his more redeeming qualities, and is far more psychotic and arrogant here, willing to kill innocents just so that he would kill Billy and take away his powers, at one point even threatening to kill a female hostage and use her as leverage to make Bily revert back to human form, and doesn't even try to deny that he wants this done so that he would kill him.
- Bash Brothers: In contrast to their previous media appearances together, Superman and Captain Marvel are undoubtedly this. At one point they find a nice rhythm and pretty much take turns knocking Adam silly.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: Black Adam commits suicide rather than be banished back to empty space.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Captain Marvel may be one of the nicest superheroes out there, but as Black Adam learned the hard way, once you have made him angry, it will not end well for you.
- Big Bad: Black Adam, Shazam's former champion who's on a vengeful rampage after being exiled.
- Bookends: The short
- The Chosen One: Billy Batson
- Curb-Stomp Battle:
- The street punk knocks down Billy Batson with a single blow.
- Also what happens to Black Adam once he pushes Billy too far.
- Death by Depower: Black Adam chooses to depower and age to death rather than being banished again.
- Driven to Suicide: Black Adam chose letting go of his powers and rapidly aging to dust in a mere instant over being sent to a corner of the universe it'd take him ten thousand years to get back from.
- FaceHeel Turn: Black Adam was Shazam's previous champion before he turned to evil 5000 years ago.
- Fate Worse than Death
- A God Am I: Black Adam is absolutely convinced that despite the recent circumstances, he has powers similar to Shazam, so by that logic, he automatically must be a god himself.
- How Do I Shot Web?:
- If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: Captain Marvel almost killed Black Adam, but Superman talked him out of it. Reminding him of what his parents taught him.
- Kick the Dog: Black Adam purposely changes course to kill a couple having a romantic evening on a hill.
- Limited Wardrobe: Billy is shown to have multiple copies of the same shirt and pants hanging in the closet.
- Mugging the Monster: The bullies at the end.Punk: It's the hero. Oh, and look at that. Hero's got nothing to say. Come on, say something. I dare you. Come on, just one word.
* Billy smiles. View of city as lightning strikes. Roll credits.*
- Mythology Gag: Superman trying to stop the flood from a broken dam like in the 1978 Superman movie.
- Neck Lift: Black Adam to a random woman, and later Captain Marvel to Black Adam.
- No Immortal Inertia: Faced with the prospect of getting zapped back to outer space, twice as far away as the first time, Black Adam reverts to his mortal self and instantly ages into dust.
- Plucky Boy: Even with all these hardships facing him, Billy does his best to do good things and help others.
- Oh, Crap!: Black Adam gives a delicious one when he realized Captain Marvel is holding him in one place for Superman to hit him with a Megaton Punch.
- Rapid Aging: Black Adam. "Aged 5,000 years in a single moment. Harsh."
- Sadistic Choice: Black Adam forces Captain Marvel into one of these, stating that either Cap revert back to normal or Adam will kill a civilian. When Cap powers down to sacrifice himself for the woman, Adam attempts to kill them both anyway. Unfortunately for Adam, Superman was on hand to rescue them both, and this act ultimately resulted in Billy unleashing a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on Adam.
- Shockwave Clap: Black Adam opens his attack on the unpowered Billy with one, demolishing the shop he and Clark were in
- Shoryuken: CM delivers a flying one to Black Adam when he finds his Heroic Resolve.
- Shout-Out: a fight sequence between Black Adam and Captain Marvel emulates the exact same movements of a fight scene from Undisputed II: Last Man Standing. A comparison can be seen here.
- Soft Water: Captain Marvel was flying above buildings when he accidentally reverts to Billy and plummets to the river below, yet hitting the water does not seem to harm him in any way. He does have trouble swimming back up however.
- Super Hero Origin: For Captain Marvel.
- The Worf Effect: Supes spends much of the short as Adam's punching bag due to his weakness to magic, which serves the purpose of demonstrating both Black Adam's ability and why Captain Marvel is needed.