Synopsis: During an archaeological expedition to Siam’s volcanic Valley of the Tombs to find the lost secret of the Scorpion Kingdom, a device of great power, the Golden Scorpion, is discovered hidden inside a sealed crypt. While examining it, the device’s quartz lenses are aligned and powerful energy beam erupts, causing an explosion, resealing the crypt. This allows young radio broadcaster and expedition member Billy Batson, who obeyed the warning on the crypt’s seal not to enter, to be chosen by the ancient wizard Shazam. The wizard grants Billy the powers of Captain Marvel whenever he repeats the wizard’s name. Captain Marvel’s powers can be used only to protect those in danger from the curse of the Golden Scorpion.
Background: I had planned to review the 12-part Republic Pictures serial Adventures of Captain Marvel. Upon viewing it, though, I realized it was review-proof. You’re either the audience for this sort of thing or you’re not. Personally, I loved it. I loved the just-being-invented special effects, the sub-par acting, and the we can do anything if we just get on with it spirit.
Writers Ronald Davidson, Norman S. Hall, Arch B. Heath, Joseph Poland, and Sol Shor took elements of Captain Marvel’s golden age origin story and re-contextualized them in an original tale. Afterward, the folks at Fawcett Comics, who held the rights before DC, put the serial characters in the Captain Marvel comics. They also wrote a comic sequel to this serial called The Return of the Scorpion.
I’ve included a stream to the complete serial thanks to the Movies and Serials YouTube Channel. Enjoy!
Tom Tyler as Captain Marvel
Frank Coghlan, Jr. as Billy Batson
William Benedict as Whitey Murphy
Louise Currie as Betty Wallace
Robert Strange as John Malcolm
Harry Worth as Prof Luther Bentley
Bryant Washburn as Harry Carlyle
John Davidson as Tal Chotali
George Pembroke as Dr. Stephen Lang
Peter George Lynn as Prof Dwight Fisher
Reed Hadley as Rahman Bar
Jack Mulhall as Howell
Kenneth Duncan as Barnett
Nigel De Brulier as Shazam
Tetsu Komai as Chan Lai
Stanley Price as Owens
Gerald Mohr as the voice of The Scorpion (uncredited)
Ken Terrell as Bentley’s Butler (uncredited)