Since making his film debut 15 years ago in The Mummy Returns, Dwayne Johnson has steadily become one of the world’s most bankable and popular movie stars.
So much, in fact, DC Comics and Warner Bros. is giving him his own Black Adam solo film.
Recognized for both his prowess as an action hero and his unlikely comic timing, Johnson has developed a reputation for elevating fading franchises. In recent years, he’s joined franchises like the Fast & Furious, G.I. Joe and Journey to the Center of the Earth. By all accounts, his widespread appeal and uncanny ability to reinvigorate audiences’ interest in a property is part of why the actor was brought onboard the DC extended universe.
Way back in 2014, Johnson confirmed his role as the villainous Black Adam opposite DC superhero Shazam in the film called, well, Shazam film, that was set for a 2019 release. Originally known as Captain Marvel (not to be confused with the Marvel Comics character getting her own film), Shazam is the Superman-esque alter-ego of teenager Billy Batson, who harnesses the power of the gods when he utters his heroic moniker.
Though no casting has been announced for that title character, Johnson has long been considered the anchor keeping that film’s development on track. Now it seems Warner Bros. hopes to capitalize further on Johnson’s involvement in the extended universe.
The decision to do a solo Black Adam film reportedly came out of a meeting between Johnson and DC Films co-head Geoff Johns, according to The Hollywood Reporter, with the proposed film drawing upon comic book arcs that have positioned Black Adam as more of an anti-hero than a villain.
At this early stage, no writer, director or additional cast is in place for the spin-off, though Shazam is still expected to hit theaters first.
Johnson’s recent Instagram post regarding the “hope, optimism and fun” of the upcoming extended universe slate makes a lot more sense now, as the actor’s enthusiasm has likely only increased with his larger role in future releases.
Seeing as last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad faced critical derision amid their box office success, beefing up Johnson’s role is a smart move on Warner Bros.’ part. The actor is simply too big a box office draw to be relegated to a supporting role in another film, but using Shazam to lay the foundation for something more may be an effective way to keep moviegoers hooked going forward.
Moreover, the concept of an anti-hero-led entry in the extended universe now seems like a less risky proposition, especially after Deadpool earned a hefty $783 million worldwide box office haul last year. Of course, there’s no telling whether Warner Bros. will go hard-R with its take on Black Adam.
Regardless, news of a Black Adam film shouldn’t be seen as much of a surprise, as it simply another of many other projects Johnson is currently attached to.
Robert Yaniz Jr.
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