The DCEU has had some extreme wins and losses ever since its inception. Among the myriad of issues the cinematic narrative could be said to have suffered is that it’s really had no central figure. Ben Affleck is on the way out, the future of Henry Cavill’s Superman is still up in the air (pun not intended but retroactively embraced), and Gal Gadot’s last turn as Wonder Woman wasn’t well received. Now, Giant Freakin Robot is hearing from a trusted and proven source that for the foreseeable future, it will be Dwayne Johnson as the ancient anti-hero Black Adam who will lead the DCEU moving forward.
Our source tells us that David Zaslav — Warner Bros. Discovery’s CEO — has named Dwayne Johnson as the actor he wants the DCEU to focus on. Why? Well, our source says his reasons aren’t complicated: Johnson’s name is the biggest the DCEU has. And he’s not wrong. Johnson is a movie star, a wrestling star, a sitcom star, and — with his inclusion into Fortnite — a video game star. He’s attached to multiple money-machine franchises like Red Notice, Jumanji, Moana, and Fast & Furious (while he presumably won’t work with Vin Diesel again, he hasn’t ruled out a Hobbs & Shaw 2). Perhaps his only realistic rival in the “biggest DCEU star” department is Jason Momoa, but for the moment Dwayne Johnson still has Khal Drogo beat.
It’s also a sound decision because of something that seems to have hounded not only the DCEU films for years, but most of Warner Bros’ popular genre properties — scandal. Between the multiple arrests over the last couple of months, allegations of creative theft, and reports of erratic behavior on the set of The Flash; Ezra Miller has quickly become one of the most hated people in Hollywood. Yet they’re attached not only to the DCEU, but also Fantastic Beasts. Add to that the public’s growing disdain for Amber Heard and Jared Leto, and you’ve got a hefty percentage of the narrative’s heroes and villains almost certainly leaving the DCEU in the near future. Dwayne Johnson, so far, has proven to be one of the most scandal-free people alive to appear on the big screen. Probably the most controversial thing he’s done in the past couple of years is to be one of the few actors in Hollywood to say no to Vin Diesel for Fast X. Oh, and he also wants Black Adam to beat up Superman.
There’s something else to consider in the idea of Dwayne Johnson playing the DCEU’s central figure, and that’s the character he’s playing. Black Adam is an intriguing choice for the narrative’s answer to Iron Man. He could very well be the perfect fusion of old and newer superhero sensibilities. While on one hand, Black Adam is one of the most morally ambiguous superheroes coming to either the DCEU or the superhero movie genre as a whole, on the other hand Dwayne Johnson himself absolutely exudes the kind of wholesome good guy vibe we think of when we imagine clean cut, hard working patriotic superheroes like Steve Rogers. Meaning, if handled right, Johnson’s anti-hero can push boundaries but without pushing too far to be bankable.