The method Dwayne Johnson places it, bringing Black Adam to the massive display was a combat, from the start to the tip. And one he couldn’t have performed with out the assistance of his heel-ready wrestling persona, The Rock.
The origins of Black Adam return practically so far as The Rock’s stint within the WWE, which ended on a 3rd heel turn tinged by Hollywood fame. In 2007, Johnson started talks with New Line Cinema over a proposed Shazam film. At that time, the wrestler turned actor had The Scorpion King, The Rundown, and the extra family-friendly Gridiron Gang below his belt, and the movie, which might inform the story of each Shazam (aka Captain Marvel) and Black Adam, was conceived to have a lighter tone below the attention of comedy director Peter Segal (would go on to work with Johnson on Get Smart). Johnson was reportedly courted to play the Shazam character, however noticed extra potential in Black Adam. But the film would languish in Development Hell for a decade. Johnson says the model we’re getting this October is “not at all” like the unique plans for the character.
“The movie that was finally delivered after years and years of deliberation, of conversation, of fighting, was Shazam and Black Adam, in one movie, trying to tell both origin stories within 100 minutes,” Johnson tells Polygon. “And it felt like it was just thrown together. It didn’t feel like it had the priority and respect that both characters and both origin stories needed.”
Johnson says that regardless of all of the backwards and forwards, a script for the dual-lead movie was solely completed six or seven years in the past. The draft prompted him to name Warner Bros. executives and problem the whole notion of the challenge.
“I said, ‘I think we really have to go in another direction. I think we should split this up and make two movies,’” Johnson remembers. “[The script] was funnier, and that made it really tricky. The Black Adam that we saw on our side, the Seven Bucks [Johnson’s production company] side, was that Black Adam was brutal and was intense and was really fucking pissed. He lost his family, wiped away. That’s his rage. And that was hard when we’re trying to establish that [tone] and we have a whole other thing here — and with a lot of kids!”
Black Adam returns Johnson to a grittier wavelength. While his profession is suffering from PG blockbusters (Race to Witch Mountain, Tooth Fairy, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island) and for-all-audiences tentpoles (the Jumanji motion pictures, Skyscraper, Red Notice), there’s detectable Rock DNA in his earlier motion pictures. The gruff hero of his Walking Tall remake, the unhinged motion star in Southland Tales, and even his early turns as Luke Hobbs within the Fast franchise all lean right into a meaner streak that was tantamount to The Rock’s feather-ruffling ring persona. Bringing real rage to Black Adam, and a drive that might (as Johnson has put it so typically within the press) change “the hierarchy of power in the DC Universe,” is perhaps the top of that.
When I ask Johnson if he regarded again to his days as The Rock for inspiration, particularly to his legendary 1998 heel turn, which teamed him up with Vince McMahon and morphed his persona into the “Corporate Champion,” he cracks a bit. “Man, I love that you said that.”
It’s been practically 20 years since Johnson was within the wrestling biz full time, however his WWE character continues to be a job he finds value reflecting on. “The Rock,” he says, performed an necessary position in steering Black Adam away from what he may have been in 2007 — and, maybe, nearer to what followers of the DC universe and Johnson’s are actually on the lookout for.
“When I was a heel, and when I made that heel turn… people may not have agreed with my ‘why,’ and they may not have agreed with the things that I would do. At that time, wrestling was a lot different. The Attitude Era was much more violent. We got away with a lot of shit that you could not get away with today. While people may not have agreed with the heel Rock, they all understood why he was doing what he was doing because I had the opportunity to talk about it — and talk shit in that way that The Rock did. So there were a lot of parallels there. The connection to Black Adam is that while you may not agree and you may interpret him as a supervillain, antihero, protector, even a superhero… you may not agree with his philosophy, but everyone understands.”
With Rock-like swagger, getting Black Adam to display concerned a mixture of muscle and large speak. From the choice to make a stand-alone Black Adam film within the first place, to the inclusion of the Justice Society and different recognizable DC Comics faces, Johnson says it took his crew years to push their imaginative and prescient to display.
“We fought for a long time, and we weren’t gonna take ‘no’ for an answer,” Johnson says. “And here we are.”
Black Adam can be launched in theaters on Oct. 21.