One of the best things about the Shazam movies are their focus on family—how the bonds you share between the ones you choose can be stronger than the ones formed by blood. Shazam is no solo hero, but a team all on his own, with five siblings to back him up when the going gets tough.

The oldest of the group, the college-bound Mary Bromfield, has also been doing this the longest (well, apart from Billy Batson himself), appearing in every incarnation of the Shazam Family since the 1940s. Mary has stood by her brother’s side since close to the very beginning, and was given her own solo comic early on. In fact, Mary was the first teen superheroine to get one—a feat she repeated in last year’s The New Champion of Shazam! You can expect to see more of Grace Caroline Currey’s Mary in Shazam! Fury of the Gods, so now’s the best time to get you up to speed on who she is and where she’s been by addressing some frequently asked questions. Just say the word!

Hold On…Is She Related to Billy?

Modern Shazam stories depict Mary as Billy Batson’s older foster sister, living together in the Vasquez family home with four other siblings. But for most of their history, their relationship was quite different. In 1942’s Captain Marvel Adventures #18, Mary debuts as Billy Batson’s long lost twin sister. With both of their parents killed in a car crash as infants, the Batsons’ nursemaid Sarah Primm saves Mary from a childhood in an orphanage by swapping her for another deceased infant of the Bromfield family in her charge. Once Billy discovers his sister’s existence, Mary learns that due to her genetic similarity to Billy, she too can call upon the Power of Shazam. As a protector of Fawcett City, she adopts the name “Mary Marvel.”

In the 1990s retelling of the Shazam Family origins in Jerry Ordway’s The Power of Shazam!, Mary is still Billy’s twin sister, and Mary and Billy were raised together for a brief time by their archaeologist parents. On an expedition to Egypt with their associate Theo Adam, the Batsons take Mary along with them, but leave Billy at home. But when Theo Adam—soon to become the modern day Black Adam—kills the Batson parents to keep the treasures they’ve uncovered for himself, Theo’s sister—once again, Sarah Primm—takes Mary into her care to be raised by her own childless employers, the Bromfields. Like Billy, this Mary also goes by the name “Captain Marvel” when transformed into her super-powered self.

In 2011, the New 52 offered refreshed origin stories for most of our heroes and Mary was no exception. Here, Mary truly was unrelated biologically to Billy Batson, and only received the Power of Shazam along with his other foster siblings when he chose to share his power. This modern incarnation of Mary sometimes goes by “Lady Shazam,” but you can also call her by the name on the cover of her new solo series: The New Champion.

What Are Her Powers Like?

Most of the time, Mary is depicted with the exact same powers as Billy. In the Golden Age stories published by Fawcett Comics, Mary channeled her powers from a different set of godly patrons: the grace of Selena, the strength of Hippolyta, the skill of Ariadne, the swiftness of Zephyrus, the beauty of Aurora and the wisdom of Minerva. But in practice, her powers were identical to any other Shazam Family member.

In the ’90s, a new wrinkle was added to the power set. Since Billy, Mary and Freddy Freeman all take their abilities from the same source, the potency of those powers would be halved or thirded depending on how many of them happened to be using them at any given time.

The only times we’ve seen a distinct, demonstrable difference in Mary and Billy’s abilities has been in the graphic novel Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil, and its follow-up all ages series Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! There, Mary maintains her childlike form even when she calls upon her power and lacks the strength of her brother, but makes up for it with greater speed.

The other time was in the apocalyptic Elseworlds tale DCeased: Unkillables, where Mary receives martial arts training from Cassandra Cain and Lady Shiva…making her as powerful as Superman and as skilled in combat as Batman, and the only person alive who could equal the Anti-Living Wonder Woman.

Who Are Her Enemies?

As part of the Shazam Family, Mary’s faced many of the same enemies as Billy Batson and Freddy Freeman over the years, like Doctor Sivana, Black Adam and Mister Mind. But in her own original solo series, Mary’s enemies included:

  • Egbert Alvin Pfoe, “The Mad Poet”
  • The Color King, who could manipulate emotions through colored rays
  • Doc Younger, anti-aging mad scientist
  • Dicehead, underground gambling crimelord
  • Nightowl, a criminal with enormous eyes which grant him perfect night vision

Mary’s  most persistent enemy, however, was Georgia Sivana, daughter of the ignominious Doctor Sivana and “the world’s wickedest girl.” Georgia was created specifically as a foil for Mary in Mary Marvel #1, and if anyone has the strongest claim to being Mary’s specific arch-enemy, it would be her.

Not that others haven’t given it their best. After all, in the ‘90s, we learn Black Adam played a significant role in the deaths of Mary’s parents. And Eclipso, Desaad, Darkseid and Lady Blaze have all done their part to make Mary’s life miserable in recent years. Just recently, in Mary’s four-issue The New Champion of Shazam!, Mary encountered a brand new villain named Babel with disturbing telepathic abilities.

Didn’t She Turn Evil, Like, a Bunch of Times?

Yeah, it was really a bit of a problem. After the end of the ‘90s Power of Shazam! series, the Shazam Family didn’t have much of a place in the DC Universe until Geoff Johns shifted focus to Black Adam in his JSA series. Billy and Mary keep their eyes on their once-mortal enemy for the duration, waiting for the veneer to drop. This centralization of Black Adam has a direct effect on Mary, who after losing her connection to Billy’s power in Day of Vengeance comes to rely on borrowing Adam’s powers in Countdown. Adam’s dark influence leads Mary down a sinister road up to and through Final Crisis, passing her through the hands of Eclipso and Darkseid before ultimately becoming a vessel for the Apokoliptian torture god Desaad. As the new Captain Marvel, Freddy Freeman returns to redeem Mary, but it wouldn’t be her last temptation.

Later, the Shazam Family enemy Lady Blaze makes Mary an offer to restore her powers if she kills Freddy herself, and she appears to agree to these terms before turning on her. Troublingly, a rejection-laden Mary in the Young Justice animated series was last seen seduced into darkness once more by Granny Goodness, as one of the newest Furies for Darkseid.

Comics are Wonderful, but I Really Want More of the MOVIE Mary

We agree, comics ARE wonderful, and Grace Caroline Currey’s portrayal of Mary is one we can’t wait to see again in theaters. But until then (or after, if you’re reading this post-viewing), you can read some stories set between the Shazam films featuring Mary in Shazam! Fury of the Gods Special: Shazamily Matters, available in comic stores and on DC UNIVERSE INFINITE. Grace even co-wrote one of the stories herself!

Shazam! Fury of the Gods, starring Zachary Levi and directed by David F. Sandberg, hits theaters March 17th. Visit our official Shazam! Fury of the Gods page to buy tickets and catch up on all of the latest news, trailers and more!

Alex Jaffe is the author of our monthly "Ask the Question" column and writes about TV, movies, comics and superhero history for Follow him on Twitter at @AlexJaffe and find him in the DC Community as HubCityQuestion.