The Rock’s Apparently A Huge Taylor Swift Fan. How That Love Led To Her ‘Very Secret’ Song Getting Added To DC League Of Super Pets

Dwayne Johnson in Black Adam and Taylor Swift in Bad Blood, pictured side-by-side and standing in front of fire.
(Image credit: Warner Bros/UMG)

Animated films and pop song soundtracks have mixed together rather well for some time now. The upcoming movie DC League of Super-Pets is no exception, as two of the creative forces that drove the movie are huge Taylor Swift fans, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson being one of them. What follows is a story that involves secrecy measures, an unreleased Swift song and the image of The Rock wearing headphones and jamming out to one of Taylor’s Versions.

Caped Krypto the Superdog in DC League of Super-Pets

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

How DC League Of Super-Pets Landed Bad Blood (Taylor’s Version)

I was given the honor of speaking with the other major Swiftie behind DC League of Super-Pets, co-writer/director Jared Stern. As we spoke over Zoom, I had to ask him about the two Taylor Swift tracks that made it into the film. One seemed more important than the other on the outset, as I had learned that “Bad Blood (Taylor’s Version)” hasn’t even been released to the public yet, and neither has the re-recorded version of the album it was pulled from, 1989

All of those elements added up to this first fun story that Jared Stern told CinemaBlend. Here’s how Stern and Dwayne Johnson decided on using “Bad Blood (Taylor’s Version),” and how they came to secure that privilege:

First of all, Dwayne Johnson is a huge Swiftie, as am I. So we were both very excited when we thought of the song that Krypto [listens to], when he’s pouting and frustrated like a teenager, and he slams the door and pops on his headphones. And it had to be Taylor. So we asked, and watched the movie, she thought it was real fun, and she said yes. Of course it was important to us that we only wanted ‘Taylor’s Version,’ and it hadn’t come out yet. But it’s in our movie, which is pretty freaking exciting.

As the re-recording of Taylor Swift’s older albums continues, in an effort to combat the fact that Swift’s original masters were sold off, only two albums have been fully re-released. While we’ve questioned when and how Taylor is working on this project, 1989 is the album that feels closest to being Taylor’s Version debut. It’s also the same album that Spirit Unleashed pulled a track from, as “Wildest Dreams” ended up in the trailer last year. 

So far, the story’s a pretty simple one: Jared Stern and Dwayne Johnson really dug “Bad Blood (Taylor’s Version)” being included in DC League of Super-Pets, and in turn, Taylor Swift dug their movie. As we move to the next section of this tale, Swift apparently enjoyed the film so much that she decided to offer another song for use on the production.

Krypto, Ace, and the rest of the super pets stare cautiously at an overturned dumpster in DC League of Super Pets.

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

The Song That Taylor Swift Offered As Her Second Contribution To DC League Of Super-Pets

While Red (Taylor’s Version) has indeed been released to the world, there was a time when it was once as secretive as whatever Taylor Swift is currently plotting. That period overlapped with the production of DC League of Super-Pets, but it didn’t stop Taylor and her representatives from offering another then-unreleased song to the project. 

Thus the decision was made to offer Jared Stern and Dwayne Johnson the usage of “Message in a Bottle (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault).” Needless to say, Stern was over the moon, as any self-proclaimed Swiftie would be. However, the co-writer/director didn’t want to just throw the song over the closing credits for no reason. With that in mind, here’s how Jared Stern decided to include that other song in the film: 

When it came to our end credits song, I believe it was Taylor, her brother, and her company reached out to us and said, ‘Hey, you know, we have this song.’ It was before the re-release of Red … they had a song that had never been released before, like an outtake off of that album that was going to be on the ‘Taylor’s Version’ re-release, and we were like, ‘Yes, please. I would love to hear this.’ … I tried to make the decision not just based on how incredibly cool that experience was, but it was just the perfect song for the end of the movie, because it’s really sweet. To me it’s a love song, but I think for our movie, [it’s] the love between a pet and an owner. It’s these pets in a shelter that are kind of putting out these messages in a bottle, hoping they’ll find someone to adopt them.

It’s quite possibly the most adorable reason to use a song like “Message in a Bottle (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault)” in a major motion picture. With the overarching theme of pet adoption tying into the adventures that Ace (Kevin Hart) and his friends embark on with their new powers, using a song about seeking love just hits closer to home when it's tied to animals. 

However, there was a process that Jared Stern and others had to undergo in order to consider this song for DC League of Super-Pets. For our last piece of the puzzle, we’re about to dive into something Taylor Swift fans are going to absolutely be interested in. You see, in order for Stern to even listen to Taylor’s Version of “Message in a Bottle,” some pretty strong measures had to be taken to ensure its secrecy. 

Taylor Swift singing during an SNL sketch.

(Image credit: NBC)

Just How Secretive Is The Process To Listen To An Unreleased Taylor Swift Song?

To the rest of the outside world, listening to Taylor Swift music is as easy as plugging in a set of headphones. That’s if you want to listen to the versions that are currently available, which means that Taylor’s Version isn’t always going to be available. While we’re not talking about anything crazy like the measures noted for behind-the-scenes trivia on "Shake It Off," there was a bit of a drive involved, as Jared Stern explained: 

It was very secret, as you could imagine. We actually drove up to a house, far up in the hills. We went in, and we sat around a table, we each headphones. It was kind of cool, I felt like I was a secret agent. They were all plugged in, it was like four headphones plugged into one computer. We sat, we listened to the song ‘Message in a Bottle’ before it was released.

Just imagine four people crowding around a computer, wearing headphones, listening to the Taylor’s Version cut of “Message in a Bottle,” and one of them just happens to be The Rock. Well, you technically don’t have to rely on imagination alone for that image, as a new promo for DC League of Super-Pets has done the work for you. Check out this video straight from Johnson's Twitter page that shows him and Kevin Hart jamming out to both songs used in the film: 

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It won’t be long before parents, children and really dedicated Taylor Swift fans will be able to hear Taylor’s Version of both “Bad Blood” and “Message in a Bottle” in theaters. DC League of Super-Pets opens in early showings tonight, with this weekend marking the wide release. The best part is you won’t need to share a headphone jack to enjoy it with a crowd! But if you want to read what critics said about DC's latest animated movie, that information is available for your perusal as well. 

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.