Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has been making the same promise since he first hit DC Fandome in 2020 to talk about the upcoming superhero film Black Adam: “The hierarchy of power in the DC Universe is about to change.” Not only is that a clear message from a resurgent Teth-Adam to Superman and the Justice League, but it also foreshadows the future of the DCEU. You see, Black Adam is going to change this comic book movie universe in some very interesting ways.
When the movie hits theaters this fall, it will not only introduce another god-like metahuman who is every bit as powerful as the Man of Steel and anyone else in the DC pantheon, but also bring the Justice Society of America to the big screen for the first time, including Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell), and Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo). That’s a whole other elite superhero team entering the DCEU, one that historically predates the Justice League but is led by someone who has no qualms with killing the bad guys, a line Superman and his cohorts dare not cross.
In fact, that latter bit will likely create quite a bit of tension between the anti-hero, the Justice League, and Teth-Adam’s sworn enemy, Shazam, going forward as this DCEU drama continues to unfold in future stories.
“We took our time with Black Adam. It’s been almost 15 years. The timing of introducing Black Adam to the world is perfect,” Johnson tells Den of Geek at San Diego Comic-Con. With so many other DC characters already established for the DCEU, Johnson thinks this is the right moment to introduce a game-changer like Teth-Adam who can spearhead the next era of DC stories on the screen.
But don’t expect good vibes when Black Adam meets the rest of the DC heroes for the first time…
“Black Adam can meet with Shazam, can meet with the Justice League. When I say meet, I mean, come face to face. Not that they’re going to sit down and have coffee or anything like that,” Johnson says of the potential future confrontation.
Just how far ahead is Johnson looking with this character and the other heroes being introduced in Black Adam?
“Years down the road,” Johnson tells Den of Geek at San Diego Comic-Con. “The whole idea of building out the DC Universe, you have to think that way…I just didn’t want to make a one off. We wanted to create a Black Adam movie that became not only the bedrock but it also became the platform to launch other characters off of.”
Indeed, Johnson has already teased what could come next if audiences respond to Teth-Adam and the JSA. He told Den of Geek magazine, “If audiences respond to these characters—which we believed that they would, and now we see that they do—we want to honor their mythologies and build out their stories on their own in terms of spin-offs, movies, TV shows, and things like that. That was always important.”
But a “Black Adam universe” of interconnected stories wasn’t always the plan. Back in 2007, when fans were first buzzing about the possibility of Johnson playing this anti-hero, it was as the villain of the Shazam movie. Until Johnson called then-New Line president Toby Emmerich to suggest a different direction was needed for this character.
“There was always something funky about that,” Johnson says. “I just didn’t feel it in my gut 100 percent… I didn’t think we should go in that direction.”
Producer Hiram Garcia agrees that allowing Black Adam and Shazam to be their own movies first before bringing them together was ultimately the right move.
“The movies are very tonally different, and there was a reason why wanted to separate them,” Garcia says, while teasing that the long-awaited fight between hero and anti-hero might be fast approaching. “In our mind, they all do exist in the same universe. And I think when everything exists in the same universe, you always have the potential for crossover. It’s just a matter of when we get there.”
Whether or not Black Adam gets to fight Shazam, Superman, and/or the Justice League down the line is up to Warner Bros. But one thing is for sure: Johnson wouldn’t have put in almost two decades of work into his DC character if he didn’t believe in what Black Adam could bring to a new era of superhero stories on the big screen.
“I always just saw myself in Black Adam,” Johnson says. “A man of color, [but] not only that. I think just the elements of overcoming odds as Black Adam has had to overcome so many odds,” Johnson says. “When you have your family stripped away from you, and your country, and your culture, and they are oppressed and enslaved, well, one of two things happens. Either you lay down or you say ‘fuck that’ and you stand up. You become an agent of change.”
Black Adam opens in theaters on Oct. 21.
Mike Cecchini and Rosie Knight contributed reporting for this piece.