Dwayne Johnson Drew Black Adam Inspiration From A Cowboy Western Icon

Dwayne Johnson cites Clint Eastwood's anti-heroes like Dirty Harry as an inspiration for Black Adam.

By Vic Medina | Published

Dwayne Johnson is discussing the origins and inspirations for Black Adam, and made a surprising admission. In setting the tone of an anti-hero who has no regrets about killing in order to serve as a protector, he looked to the roles of western icon Clint Eastwood. In particular, Johnson cited Eastwood’s Dirty Harry character, whose “shoot first, ask questions later” approach to law enforcement made him a 1980s movie legend.

In a new promotional clip for AMC Theatres, Johnson discussed how his approach to introducing a pivotal DC Comics character like Black Adam to the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) was unlike the common approach to cinematic superheroes. In particular, he wanted to explore the moral ambiguity of a “hero” who kills, but in the case of Black Adam, there really isn’t any ambiguity at all, and pointed to Eastwood’s Dirty Harry as inspiration.

After stating that Clint Eastwood is his favorite actor, Dwayne Johnson revealed that in his discussions with Black Adam director Jaume Collet-Serra about the film’s approach, the director suggested making Black Adam the Dirty Harry of the DC Universe. Johnson said the film explores what defines a superhero, a supervillain, and “what makes a protector, a champion of the people.”

Clint Eastwood is perhaps the quintessential anti-hero in film, dating back to his days in westerns like Sergio Leone’s “Dollars Trilogy,” in which he played The Man With No Name. In the 1980’s, he perfected this image with the Dirty Harry movies, including Sudden Impact (the film with the infamous line “Go ahead, make my day”) and The Dead Pool. It was this no-nonsense approach that Dwayne Johnson wanted to imbue in Black Adam, especially in the film’s opening scenes.

Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood in Sudden Impact

“We get one shot to introduce Black Adam and acknowledge his power,” Dwayne Johnson said of the character’s first appearance on screen, and the importance of establishing tone. “When it was time to rock and roll and show you the unstoppable power and force of Black Adam…We did it in a way that was incredible. I mean, it was jarring in the best way.”

Black Adam’s willingness to resort to violence in the name of justice puts him in direct philosophical odds with the greatest DC hero of all, Superman, and Dwayne Johnson doesn’t mind that rivalry at all. “When it comes to superpower one of the coolest things about Black Adam is that he goes pound to pound with Superman,” Johnson said, saying he wanted to create a hypothetical in which fans may not be able to tell who would win in a one-on-one fight.

Johnson’s insistence that Black Adam have no issue with violence may be one of the reasons the film had to make some edits to avoid an “R” rating. That included several scenes in which Black Adam kills enemies with brutal force.

Audiences seem to like cinematic recipe Dwayne Johnson is cooking, as Black Adam has crossed the $250 million mark in ticket sales worldwide in its first ten days, as it continues to rank #1 at the box office, despite mixed reviews from critics.