Sure, everyone might want to see Dwayne Johnson's Black Adam and Superman face off, but what about Shazam?
Zachary Levi's Billy Batson - whose DCU sequel, Shazam! Fury of the Gods hits theaters in March - has been the comic arch-nemesis of Teth-Adam ever since the two met in 1945. The connection makes sense, of course, seeing as both get their powers from wizards.
However, those who have seen Black Adam would know that not a single direct mention of Shazam himself is made. This is a feat in and of itself, given how entwined with each other the two are in the comics.
In fact, in the movie, getting Dwayne Johnson's villain to say "Shazam!" is literally a plot point towards the beginning of the film—one speared by the Justice Society of America as they attempt to defeat the powerful antihero.
So why did DC's latest film completely ignore an important part of the character's lore? Well, most of the blame seems to lie directly at Dwayne Johnson's feat.
Johnson May Dislike Shazam, Much Like Black Adam Himself
In an article from The Wrap speculating what the future of the DCU will look like now that James Gunn and Peter Safran are in charge, the outlet pointed out how some conflict is sure to arise when it comes to Dwayne Johnson's future visions for his antihero.
They noted the history of Black Adam's leading star doing his best to separate his antihero from Zachary Levi's own project. In fact, Shazam!, a movie produced by new DCU boss Safran, even had a scene in it that directly alluded to Teth-Adam.
However, producers Dany and Hiram Garcia, along with Johnson, asked the studio to move the antihero away from his comic book rival.
The 2019 movie's deleted scene can be found online. The cut bit features Billy Batson and his family enjoying their new thrones but then realizing that there's a seventh unclaimed seat.
An insider claimed Johnson "probably isn't loving the idea that his boss [Safran] is now the guy that produces Shazam!" and that Johnson has a "thinly veiled disdain" for the Zachary Levi movie:
"Safran needs to win over all the other filmmakers... and Dwayne Johnson's thinly veiled disdain for Shazam means he probably isn't loving the idea that his boss is now the guy that produces 'Shazam.' Safran is pretty diplomatic, so I think he will pull it off but it won't be easy."
Previously, back in 2014, Dwayne Johnson had signed on to be Black Adam for the Shazam! movie. Later, the star was able to convince the studio to go on and make the 2019 movie without him and instead let his take on Teth-Adam get its own adaptation.
In Johnson's own words, he noted how "[Shazam!'s original] script is great... but that [they] should separate [Shazam and Black Adam]:
"I made a call... I said, 'I have to share my thoughts here. It's very unpopular...' because everyone though, '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 [Black Adam] as well."
A scene teasing Black Adam did end up making it into Shazam!. When the Wizard is getting Billy up to speed, he mentions how they once chose a champion who used his powers for revenge. In doing so, he released the seven deadly sins into the world.
This is clearly meant to be Black Adam himself. However, that catastrophic event goes completely unmentioned in the 2022 movie. So, odds are, this Teth-Adam backstory won't be considered canon going forward.
Might Shazam and Superman be in for a Team-Up?
Johnson's dislike of Shazam is quite bizarre. Quite frankly, when it comes to the wider DCU, it's also detrimental.
One might argue that Black Adam's tone wouldn't mesh well with Shazam!'s. But then, they'd wisely be directed to look at the decades up decades of comics where they've been arch-nemesis, having gone up against each other countless times.
There's also the example set by the Marvel Cinematic Universe that showcases how different franchises can mix and match various tones and still be successful.
However, there is some hope left for fans of the two rivals. Recently Johnson claimed that a crossover between the two "[was] going to happen." Is the star being genuine, or is he just saying what the fans want to hear?
For those hoping to see the antihero pop up in Shazam! Fury of the Gods, it's probably best not to expect it. Formerly, that film's director claimed how "there hasn't really been a conversation about [a crossover between the two]," something he said after filming had been completed for his sequel.
Hopefully, given Safran's closeness to Shazam!, someone will be able to talk some sense into Dwayne Johnson. It would be a shame if Billy Batson and Teth-Adam somehow never come to blows with one another.
After all, Superman is likely to need a little bit of help.
Black Adam is now playing in theaters worldwide, while Shazam! Fury of the Gods is currently set to be released on March 17, 2023.