Dwayne Johnson Fought To Keep Black Adam Out Of DC’s Best Movie
Was this a mistake?
In a little over two months, the long-awaited debut of Dwayne Johnson as DC’s Black Adam will hit the big screen. The Red Notice star has spoken often about his affinity for the character, and no doubt he’s been more restless for the world to see his portrayal of the character than anyone else. But according to a new interview, Johnson could have appeared as the anti-hero a whole lot sooner if he’d wanted.
Dwayne Johnson recently talked to Vanity Fair for the promotional lead-up to Black Adam, and among other things revealed that he was meant to premiere as Adam in 2019’s Shazam! as the antagonist. He explained that “it wasn’t a complete surprise” when he received the first draft of the script that the film would introduce both Shazam and Black Adam. Still, that wasn’t what Johnson wanted. “I just knew in my gut, ‘We can’t make this movie like this. We would be doing Black Adam an incredible disservice,’” Johnson explained. “It would’ve been fine for Shazam having two origin stories converge in one movie, but not good for Black Adam.”
Dwayne Johnson said he “made a phone call,” arguing that Black Adam and Shazam should be introduced in separate films. “I said, ‘I have to share my thoughts here. It’s very unpopular’ because everybody thought, ‘Hey, this script is great, let’s go make this movie,’” Johnson recalled. “I said, ‘I really think that you should make Shazam!, make that movie on its own in the tone that you want. And I think we should separate this as well.'”
Even though his movie has yet to release, it’s difficult to not conclude Dwayne Johnson made the right call about Black Adam. From what we’ve seen of the various trailers and clips released so far, Johnson’s anti-hero is going to fall pretty hard on the “anti.” It’s clear the Jungle Cruise star wants fans to get a DCEU character who is no cackling villain, while at the same time refuses to operate by the same rules as your average Justice League member. And could Shazam! have been good for a character like that?
On one hand, one might argue Dwayne Johnson made a big misstep saving Black Adam for his own film. Shazam! remains one of the DCEU’s biggest success stories; at least critically speaking. When it comes to Rotten Tomatoes‘ critics scores, Shazam! is tied with last year’s The Suicide Squad for the second-highest score (90%) of the DCEU’s films, with 2017’s Wonder Woman (93%) taking first place. While the DC films are often criticized for having tones that are too dark and broody, Shazam! is light and family-friendly, feeling at times more like the Tom Hanks classic Big than a superhero movie.
On the other, it’s difficult to imagine Dwayne Johnson’s portrayal of Black Adam would’ve been served by being the antagonist of such a feature. It would be particularly difficult to take Adam seriously if we watched him get defeated in a movie that was arguably more of a family comedy than an action feature. Hopefully Black Adam will do the character justice when it premieres on October 21.