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The ‘Unpopular’ Opinion Dwayne Johnson Had About Shazam When He First Read The Script

Black Adam flying away from Justice Society concept art
(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

The DC anti-hero doesn’t have that much of a recognizable pop culture history, but when he is referenced, he’s usually connected with Shazam as his main villain. And now, thanks to an in-depth interview with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, we are learning that these two big-screen characters were supposed to be connected in the DCEU as well, until the A-list superstar intervened for what he interpreted as the greater good. And his interference led to this year’s DC blockbuster Black Adam, which arrives in theaters on October 21.

Dwayne Johnson is ramping up press for his anticipated and long-delayed entrance into the realm of comic-book and superhero properties, where he will play the vengeful and vicious god. And while peeling back the layers on how Black Adam came to be, The Rock revealed that his character was supposed to be introduced in the 2019 origin story Shazam! Except, Johnson wanted his own solo movie… and kinda laid down the law. He tells Vanity Fair:

When the first draft of the movie came to us, it was a combination of Black Adam and Shazam: Two origin stories in one movie. Now that was the goal—so it wasn’t a complete surprise. But when I read that, I just knew in my gut, ‘We can’t make this movie like this. We would be doing Black Adam an incredible disservice.’ It would’ve been fine for Shazam having two origin stories converge in one movie, but not good for Black Adam. … I made a phone call. I said, ‘I have to share my thoughts here. It’s very unpopular…’ because everybody thought, ‘Hey, this script is great, let’s go make this movie.’ I said, ‘I really think that you should make Shazam!, make that movie on its own in the tone that you want. And I think we should separate this as well.’

In some ways, The Rock is right. There are a long list of superhero movies that suffered from having too many characters in them. Right, Topher Grace? And so, asking the Shazam movie to cover the origin of Billy Batson (Asher Angel), the introduction of a major villain in Mark Strong, and the time spent with Billy’s foster family, Black Adam would have been a subplot, at best. And The Rock realized they’d be doing the character a disservice. 

He calls the phone call he made to Warner Bros., and the opinion he stated about breaking the movies up, as “unpopular,” because the people making Shazam! were very happy with the script they had. And Dwayne Johnson was essentially asking them to double down and fund a completely separate movie that dug into the origin of Black Adam… which is going to arrive between the initial Shazam movie, and its upcoming sequel, Shazam: Fury of the Gods. Which means that the people at DC listened. And now they are hoping that the gamble will pay off. 

Shazam!

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Shazam sequel is going to expand on that corner of the universe with new castmates playing threatening adversaries. And also, as part of the introduction of Black Adam, we also are going to see old (and new) versions of the Justice Society of America. So these movies are making significant space for a slew of exciting DC heroes and villains… and none of that might have been possible if The Rock hadn’t picked up that phone and voiced an unpopular opinion about the initial Shazam script that landed on his desk.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.