When a performer is cast in a comic book movie these days, two things are inevitable. Firstly, the casting will be announced far in advance of the movie actually being made, and secondly, every time that performer is in front of the press in the mean time, they will be quizzed for every snippet of information about said comic book adaptation. Such is the case for Dwayne Johnson, who is currently promoting Fast And Furious 7 (released in theatres on April 3rd), but is being repeatedly questioned about DC’s Shazam movie, and the character, Black Adam.
DC announced some time ago that it was planning a Shazam movie for April 2019, and Dwayne Johnson recently officially confirmed his casting as Black Adam in that story. Black Adam is the arch-nemesis of the superhero Shazam, but in the source material, eventually becomes something of an anti-hero. He is, in a sense, the creation of Shazam – the hero having shared his power with him. However, rather than using that power for good deeds, Black Adam is corrupted by it, and often veers toward vengeance and villainy. Dwayne Johnson has been loosely attached to a Shazam film project – in the role of Black Adam – for almost 10 years, and is clearly heavily involved in the development of the forthcoming movie, as he explained to MTV.
“We haven’t picked a Shazam yet, and we have been working on the script. Half the scripts [have] already come in. Fantastic, very excited about it. And what I’m really excited about is – because, again, I’ve lived with this character and this opportunity for almost 10 years now, so it’s like in my DNA! I’m like a little kid, and it’s the opportunity to create his journey, but that journey has to start out properly.”
Speculation has also swirled around which version of Black Adam will appear in the Shazam movie – given that, as with most comic book characters, his origin story has been re-booted and altered many times. Dwayne Johnson seems to have put that speculation to rest now, however, with the apparent confirmation that the Black Adam depicted on the big screen in 2019 will be that which was re-launched in 2011 during the universal DC re-boot known as The New 52 – with Black Adam starting out as a slave.
“Starting off properly is him not being a hero. That’s got to be earned, so he starts off as a slave. And he’s p*ssed off, and people are going to pay. But eventually down the line, he’ll become an anti-hero.”
Having established the intention to explore Black Adam’s status as an anti-hero, Dwayne Johnson spoke to IGN about the possibility of him appearing with the Justice League in the cinematic universe that Warner Bros is in the process of creating.
“I think you always want to leave that creatively open, that he could join the Justice League, and I think…that’s the fun part of creating this character right now and everybody involved, from the studio, from New Line, to Warner Bros as well, to the writer, our producing partners…”
“You definitely want to engage in his heroic side, but that has to be earned with the mythology of Black Adam starting off as a slave – because when you start off as a slave, just inherently, there’s things in your DNA that p*ss you off. And that’s the bottom line.”
“I think we have to respect and pay homage to the true mythology and then the heroic side will come down the line, but I think it’s important…to make sure the homage is paid at the beginning because then you have a stronger foundation to stand on, and so he will become an anti-hero, but at first…daddy’s got to go to work.”
The remaining questions regarding the Shazam movie project, featuring Black Adam, surround the casting of the titular hero. Shazam is the superhero alter-ego of teenager Billy Batson, who morphs into “Earth’s mightiest mortal” when he says that magic word – an acronym of the mythological figures that provide his superpowers (Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, Mercury). In addition to not having cast the superhero role yet, Dwayne Johnson is unsure, as to whether Batson-Shazam will be played by one actor or two.
“I’m not quite to sure yet what we will do. There’s a lot of opportunity, with technology, maybe do a cool face replacement like they did in Captain America [2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger]. Maybe cast two separate actors – I’m not quite too sure.”
What is certain is that Dwayne Johnson will appear as Black Adam in a Shazam movie – currently scheduled for April 2019, but as previously indicated by Johnson, maybe a little earlier, should circumstances allow.
[Image: Xiaolu Chu/Getty Images]