The Rock’s DC Movie Meddling Seemingly Confirmed by Shazam Star
Zachary Levi adds his thoughts to reports that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson tried to beat down Shazam to lift up Black Adam.
This post contains spoilers for Shazam: The Fury of the Gods
Shazam and Black Adam have finally begun to fight. Just not in the way you expected. Or maybe even wanted.
Hot off the disappointing opening weekend box office sales of Shazam: The Fury of the Gods, The Wrap released an insider report that blamed Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for undermining the Big Red Cheese’s cinematic future. In it, unnamed sources describe Johnson as a person who “thinks he’s bigger than the movie,” who wants only “to extend his brand and make a brand centered on himself.” That includes demanding that Black Adam cut out the character’s traditional rival, Billy Batson aka Shazam aka Captain Marvel, going for the more flashy Superman.
Not only does the report back up previous claims that Johnson convinced Warner Bros to give Black Adam his own movie instead of debuting him in the first Shazam!, but it also shows that the Rock wanted to ignore the Big Red Cheese altogether. Instead of building toward a clash between Black Adam and Shazam, long-time archrivals in the comics, Johnson hyped a clash between his character and Superman. He even orchestrated Henry Cavill‘s return to the Man of Steel’s blue tights, hoping to harness the passion of Zack Snyder fans.
The story has only grown more intense after Shazam! star Zachary Levi reposted an Instagram story with excerpts from The Wrap‘s article, adding “The truth shall set you free.” Also an upside-down smiley-face emoji. Also a praise hands emoji.
For comic book fans, Johnson’s machinations always smelled of shameless self-promotion. While Black Adam and Superman have certainly tussled in the past, the most hyped clashes were between Superman and Shazam/Captain Marvel. Shortly after the Infinite Crisis pseudo-reboot, the Judd Winick and Joshua Middelton comic Superman/Shazam: First Thunder miniseries retold the first meeting between the titans, and clashes between the two have been the highlight of numerous stories, including the 90s Eclipso: The Darkness Within crossover, the dystopian future storyline Kingdom Come, and even the Justice League Unlimited cartoon series.
Perhaps the most damning evidence relates to Johnson’s control over the mid-credits scene in Shazam: The Fury of the Gods. Where the scene was originally intended to see Shazam drafted into the Justice Society of America, by characters we met in Black Adam, he’s instead sort of invited by Amanda Waller’s subordinates Harcourt and Economos (from The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker). While Shazam has been a member of the Justice Society in the comics (though not as prominently as Black Adam, it must be said), the innocent Billy is a strange fit for anything involving Waller.
Of course, it’s definitely overstating things to blame Fury of the Gods’s disappointing box office on Johnson’s moves. As Den of Geek‘s David Crow wrote, the movie is a “lame duck,” promising a shared universe that will never come. So inconsequential are both Fury of the Gods and Black Adam that Henry Cavill has ignored the fruror, proving that for all of Johnson’s cape-tugging, he cannot even get the attention of Superman.