There will always be unintended consequences when ego leads the way.
It would be fair to say that Black Adam was Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson’s attempt to become something larger than life in Hollywood. The action star would have made his mark as a superhero in the DC that was worthy of taking up the mantel of leading the new era of superhero films from Warner Bros. into a new direction that Superman and Batman couldn’t do.
The problem, amongst several others, was Johnson.
After a less-than-stellar $66 million worldwide box-office performance from Shazam! Fury of the Gods (according to Box Office Mojo), insiders told TheWrap that Johnson’s ambitions to prompt his DC film over Shazam, which he was originally cast to be the villain in, “may end up tanking both franchises.”
Ambition is never a bad thing, especially in Hollywood. But when an already struggling franchise is having a hard time convincing audiences that they should come out to theaters and watch the latest (and underwhelming) DC superhero film in an already oversaturated superhero market, Johnson is shooting himself and the franchise in the foot when he doesn’t support the brand as whole.
Johnson had already gone over executives’ heads and quickly wore out his welcome when he was cast as Black Adam ten years ago. Insiders told TheWrap that the reason the studio was hesitant to have Henry Cavill cameo as Superman at the end of Black Adam was that they wanted Shazam (Zachary Levi) to appear instead. Johnson allegedly shut down that idea.
Johnson tried to set himself and Henry Cavill up for a Black Adam-Superman showdown that would have immediately shot Johnson’s character up to the ranks of a “VIS” (a very important superhero).
In this version, the surviving members of the Justice Society would enlist Shazam to join their team, setting the stage for Shazam and Black Adam to face off (like they do in the comics). However, Johnson wasn’t interested in the idea and wanted to create his version of the character.
There was also an inside source (via GeekTyrant) that offered additional insight into how Johnson sees himself while developing his movie, saying, ”Dwayne tries to sell himself as bigger than the movie. He’s one of the few people who always thinks he’s the most important person in any situation or room.”
Zachary Levi confirmed the news by reposting this news on social media with the caption: “The truth shall set you free.”
This is the last gasp of the DC Extended Universe as egos clash while James Gunn and Peter Safran prepare a new future for DC Studios. As of right now, Shazam and Black Adam are not slated to have sequels in the new DCU.
Johnson’s meddling did not help the already uncertain future of Warner Bros. Discovery’s DC properties, and it sure didn’t help with the morale around the release of Shazam! Fury of the Gods. It’s hard to create an interconnecting universe when one of the villains refuses to fight his comic book nemesis.
It is funny and a little ironic that even though these enemies never met on the silver screen, their actors are airing their issues out in a very public, meta sort of way.
What can we learn from DC’s final moments? As filmmakers, it is important to not surround yourself with “yes men” who will let you lead yourself down the wrong path. There are smarter ways to handle your creative differences with people. Take a step back, look at the bigger picture, and realize your role in a film that has hundreds and thousands of hands touching it.