It’s been a long road to bring Black Adam to the big screen. Dwayne Johnson has been connected to the role for approximately 15 years, and it’s become something of a passion project for the celebrated action movie star. “It feels incredibly gratifying because it’s been a long time [with] a lot of ups and downs,” Johnson tells us on the Warner Bros. lot after the film’s first trailer debuts.
While Johnson is excited to finally be putting on that iconic black suit, there’s an even bigger plan at work. “The whole goal of our movie was to set off a larger universe where we were able to introduce the Justice Society of America and then also build from there,” he says.
Introducing Black Adam to the DCEU is a big first step–and something Johnson has dedicated over a decade too–he’s also laser focused on the importance of bringing a live-action JSA to the big screen for the first time. Black Adam’s take on comics’ oldest superhero team matches two of the original JSA’s founding members Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan) and Hawkman (Aldis Hodge) with two young upstarts Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell) and Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo).
“If audiences respond to these characters, which we believed that they would and now we see that they do,” Johnson says, “we want to honor their mythologies and build out their stories, in terms of spin offs, movies, and TV shows. That was always important.”
Black Adam also gives Johnson a chance to do something entirely new in the world of superheroes because the character has never been brought to life in live action. “I love that there was no reference, he says. “We have the opportunity to do this from scratch.”
Johnson’s dreams for the “Black Adam Universe” extend far beyond just this year’s movie. The chance to explore the wider DC canon and rediscover all the “weird and complex” characters is something the star and producer finds exhilarating.
“When you look at DC’s pantheon of characters there are so many great ones,” he says. “You just have to extrapolate them out of the DC Bible, put them on a whiteboard individually, break it all down, and really go deep into their backstories and their superpowers and their complexities. It’s so exciting.”
But introducing one of DC’s most powerful heroes and their oldest and most storied superteam to the big screen DC Universe is a huge responsibility, and not one that Johnson takes lightly, “Don’t fuck it up,” he says. “We have this opportunity to deliver something that the fans have waited a long time for.”
Those fans are one of the most important driving factors in all Johnson’s choices.
“It’s also how I like to operate in our business,” he shares, “Let’s not go for what we know could be a successful movie. Let’s go for something that has not been seen. Let’s fucking go for it! Not only that, but let’s really listen to the fans, because they will always guide you.”
You can read more about Black Adam in our cover story here.
Black Adam hits theaters on Oct. 21.