The upcoming Shazam release date could be doing something rarely seen in movies these days. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson says that its villain, Black Adam, is actually a hero.
Technically, when it comes to good storytelling, the best villains are often relatable. If they’re not, they often come off like some of James Bond’s worst villains, killing just because they can. Look at Tomorrow Never Dies, for example. In that film, the villain just does bad things because he can. He has no backstory to convince you that he has any real reason other than that he’s a villain out to profit on starting a world war.
The only time a film is considered good with a villain like that is often in parodies, where the backstory is often thrown out in favor of a few good jokes. Robin Hood: Men in Tights is considered a comedy classic, and its villain was a one-note character whose only motivation was to marry Maid Marian against her will.
The upcoming Fate of the Furious, another film starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, will apparently have a sympathetic villain in Charlize Theron’s Cipher (not to be confused with Joe Pantoliano’s character from The Matrix). This means you’ll almost root for her as the movie progresses, something most films these days because often deliver.
Gizmodo says Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam is supposedly going to take a similar route.
“Yes, of course, Black Adam – in the mythology – is a villain. Or he can be considered an antihero. Or, to some, he’s a hero. To some who have a black heart, like me [chuckles]. Again, I love the backstory that he started off as a slave and he was held down. I think that kind of backstory – about a man who’s held down, rises up out of that to become greater, and then [deals] with the conflict and pain of losing his family – it’s dark. But it also adds to the gravity and adds to the weight of the story … And it means to me, uh, he’s a hero.”
Antiheroes, as The Rock says Black Adam will be, have actually seen a more mainstream success in film and on TV in recent years. In Breaking Bad, Walter White is actually the main villain, but he’s relatable because he got into the drug business to try to earn enough money to fight his cancer and ensure his family is taken care of after he’s gone.
Some of the biggest antiheroes lately have included Deadpool, John Wick, Batman, and Iron Man, and they have all had successful films. Like Black Adam in the comics, Deadpool kills a lot of people, though for different reasons. Deadpool usually does it for money or just to get revenge on Francis (who prefers being called Ajax), while Black Adam comes from a hard life he’s risen from.
The Shazam movie’s villain is apparently motivated by his particular sense of justice to do bad things, which might remind you of a classic Marvel Comics antihero. The Punisher, who turned out to be an ally for Daredevil in the Netflix series, initially criticized “the man without fear” for only “taking half measures,” or not killing his targets.
In that way, Dwayne Johnson’s explanation that Black Adam is a hero might make sense. However, many fans of the comics have laughed off this explanation, asking if “The Rock” even knows he’s playing a villain.
The producers realized there was enough backstory to Black Adam to give Dwayne Johnson’s bad guy character his own movie before the Shazam movie release date, says Gizmodo. Having a villain as the main “hero” has been done before, even in the same cinematic universe. Suicide Squad teamed up a bunch of Batman’s villains in a plot to save the world from a more powerful villain gone rogue.
Are you excited to see Dwayne Johnson become an antihero who becomes a villain?
[Featured Image by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for People’s Choice Awards]