Super-powered anti-hero Black Adam was supposed to debut in 2019’s Shazam!, but Dwayne Johnson convinced the studio to do otherwise. In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, the 50-year-old actor revealed that he persuaded Warner Bros. to create a separate film for the comic book character. In 2014, Zachary Levi was cast as Shazam in the DC Cinematic Universe, with Johnson set to play Black Adam alongside him.
“When the first draft of the movie came to us, it was a combination of Black Adam and Shazam: Two origin stories in one movie,’ Johnson told Vanity Fair. ‘Now that was the goal – so it wasn’t a complete surprise.” Out of preservation for the Black Adam character, Johnson stated that he was instinctively not a fan of the plot structure.”When I read that, I just knew in my gut, “We can’t make this movie like this. We would be doing Black Adam an incredible disservice,”‘ Johnson said. ‘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 spoke to studio executives about the issue. He explained to them that combining the two stories in one film would not be ideal for the characters. Johnson felt it would water down a potential conflict between them in the future. He also felt the comedic tone of Shazam compared to the more gritty nature of Black Adam wouldn’t mix well.
‘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,”‘ Dwayne Johnson explained. ‘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.’
Dwayne Johnson details what makes Black Adam stand apart from other superheroes
However, Black Adam was teased in the 2019 film. In Shazam! a wizard figure referred to giving super abilities to someone who used them ‘recklessly,’ at which point an image of Johnson as Black Adam briefly appears.
Black Adam has a lot of similarities to DC comics cornerstone, Superman. Both are near invulnerable, can fly, and have vast super strength. However, Dwayne Johnson is quick to point out how the characters differ. ‘When you pull Black Adam out of the pantheon of superheroes in the DC Universe, he is blessed with these incredible superpowers from the gods that rival Superman,’ Johnson said. ‘The difference is, well, a few things. Number one, Superman’s greatest weakness is magic, and one of Black Adam’s greatest superpowers is magic.”
However, it’s not just their power sets that make Superman and Black Adam different. Black Adam is willing to go places ethically that The Man of Steel wouldn’t even think of. “Superman won’t kill anybody,” Dwyane Johnson points out.
“There’s a code that he lives by and honors. Black Adam has a unique code of ethics too. He will not hesitate – and I like to have a little fun when I’m explaining this – to rip somebody in half. Literally, he’ll grab someone by the neck and by the thigh and then rip them up, tear them apart,” Johnson quipped. Dwayne Johnson’s DC superhero debut will drop on October 21st.