Monday, April 11, 2016

Captain Marvel's Powers: The Courage of Achilles!

The wizard Shazam gives Billy Batson the powers/abilities of six gods.  Billy gains them by uttering the magically mystic word, "Shazam!" which transforms him into Captain Marvel - the World's Mightiest Mortal!

I want to examine Captain Marvel's courage, which he gets from Achilles, in this article.  Who was Achilles?  What is courage?  When has Captain Marvel displayed this courage?  I will answer those questions below!

Achilles is a character from Greek mythology.  He is best know for his bravery and courage in the Trojan War.  In that War he had racked up victory after victory in many battles.  

What is courage?  Courage can be defined as the ability to do something you know to be difficult or dangerous.  Courage is also defined as the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear or difficulty.  One of my favorite quotes is, "Courage doesn't always roar.  Sometimes courage is that quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.'" (Mary Anne Radmacher)

There are many examples of Captain Marvel's courage that can be seen throughout the pages of his comics, I'll give a few examples.

The first example of Cap's courage is found in the pages of The Marvel Family #59 in the three part story, "The Marvel Family Battles the Sneaking Doom!"  Throughout the story strange things are happening on earth - water defies gravity, earthquakes and landslides abound.  The Marvels have their hands full rescuing people from these fearful events.  After examining the evidence, Captain Marvel comes to a conclusion that strikes him with fear - the world is coming to an end!  This revelation would send most mortals into despair, but not the world's mightiest mortal.  With the courage of Achilles, Cap leads the Marvel family into action and saves the world.  

The second example of Captain Marvel's courage comes from Captain Marvel Adventures #144.  Achilles' indomitable courage is needed as Captain Marvel faces a huge monstrous gorilla sent by Dr. Sivana to smash the world's mightiest mortal.  Empowered by the courage of Achilles, as well as being endowed with Achille's fighting skills, Captain Marvel makes a monkey of Sivana's attack ape.  Here we learn that Cap not only gets his courage from Achilles, but also gets his fighting skills from him as well!

The greatest example of Captain Marvel's courage comes from Captain Marvel Adventures #89, where Cap faces Fear itself!  In this story, Fear runs throughout the city creating chaos and panic.  Captain Marvel catches Fear and looks straight into his face....and then "for the first time in his career, Captain Marvel knows the full terrible meaning of...FEAR!" Cap's fear is only momentary and he quickly recovers his courage.  By the end of the story, Captain Marvel's courage - and power - is no match for Fear!

Notice that in some examples, Cap was temporarily fearful.  However, he didn't allow his fear to overcome him, he overcame his fear with courage - the mental and moral strength to withstand fear and danger!

The fifth power Shazam gives Captain Marvel is the indomitable courage of Achilles and we see Cap display this courage throughout his adventures.  Captain Marvel's courage kept him from despair and made him move with determination to save the world.  His courage empowered him to face a fierce beast that would have made the strongest man tremble.  His courage also enabled him to look fully into the face of Fear and conquer it!  Captain Marvel's courage truly makes him the World's Mightiest Mortal!


  1. Courage bestowed upon him by a guy who had invulnerability and thus wasn't really that courageous so much as having nothing to fear~!

    1. "Achilles' Courage" also grants invulnerability.