It’s easy to see that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is eager to play Shazam antagonist Black Adam. Over the past several months, he has been teasing potential roles the magically-charged anti-hero can play in upcoming films, fighting characters like Batman and Superman. However, what’s especially important to the actor is staying faithful to the source material, and Johnson has already charted where he wants to take the intense demi-god in the DC Cinematic Universe.
Having been attached to the Shazam movie for nearly a decade, Johnson told MTV News that he’s eager breathe life into the character - but that it’s crucial that the character be taken down the right path of development. Discussing the approach to the character, the wrester-turned-actor explained,
I’ve lived with this character, and this opportunity for almost 10 years now, so it’s like, in my DNA! I’m like a little kid, and it’s the opportunity to create his journey, but that journey has to start out properly. And starting off properly is him not being a hero. That’s got to be earned, so he starts off as a slave. And he’s pissed off, and people are going to pay. But eventually down the line he’ll become an anti-hero.
When Black Adam was first introduced in 1945, he was more of a typical, diabolical villain that one often saw in the Golden Age of Comics - but the decades since have transformed him into a more complex character. Johnson’s comments paint the DCCU Black Adam as being primarily influenced by the New 52 version, reintroduced by Geoff Johns in 2012. Originally born a slave in ancient Kahndaq, rather than use his powers (which he stole from his nephew) for good like his future nemesis Shazam, Black Adam decided to unleash vengeance against the elite that had enslaved him and his people. In the present day, his brutality has drawn the ire of many DC superheroes, and while the character is not a cut-and-dry evildoer that’s only using his powers to benefit himself, his methods prevent him from being seen as a hero in the eyes of many.
Although Black Adam isn’t scheduled to debut in the DCCU for another four years – with Shazam dated for 2019 - recently Johnson has been teasing that there’s potential for the character to appear as early as in 2017’s Justice League Part One, which would give extra time to explore what makes the character tick. Whether he faces off against the Justice League first or just Shazam, it sounds like this version of Black Adam has a lot of anger he needs to work through before he can take that next step to becoming an anti-hero, so expect a lot of destruction and magic-fueled rages in his future.
Shazam will hit theaters on April 5, 2019.