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How Dwayne Johnson Improved Shazam with One Phone Call

Black Adam, Shazam, DCU
By Russ Milheim

Dwayne Johnson has been trying to get Black Adam off the ground for a long time—starting in November 2007, as a matter of fact. It must feel pretty unreal to see the project finally pieced together and prepping for release. Oddly enough, the character’s biggest enemy from the comics actually had a successful outing before him: Shazam!.

Zachary Levi’s DC Comics film introduced the world to the famous wizard and his younger counterpart. His film ended up being successful, and audiences came to love the energetic superhero.

So were the two characters ever involved in each other’s projects? It seems that not only was this the case, but a big decision by Dwayne Johnson helped both characters go on to succeed.

Dwayne Johnson's Fateful Call

Shazam, Black Adam
DC

In an interview with Comicbook.com, Black Adam star Dwayne Johnson, and producers Hiram Garcia and Beau Flynn, talked about what the project used to look like and how its current iteration helped improve Zachary Levi’s Shazam!.

Johnson, the star of the upcoming DCEU project, mentioned how the original plan half a decade ago “was to tell the two origin stories of Shazam and Black Adam in the same movie,” something the actor eventually realized didn’t work:

“The original plan, maybe five or six years ago I think, was to tell the two origin stories of Shazam! and Black Adam in the same movie. That’s what we had worked on… the script was delivered. When we all read the script, I immediately felt like, ‘We have to separate these two movies. We have to honor Shazam! and that origin story and what that is and what that can be for the fans and then we also have to tell our story, too, as well.’ I think in separating them, with the majority of the world not knowing who Black Adam is if you weren’t a serious comic book fan, it was important, I think to separate them and tell each story respectively.”

Johnson was ultimately the one who decided to improve both Shazam! and Black Adam by officially separating the two thanks to one call.

Flynn recalled how “[Johnson] called Hiram and [himself],” a call that changed everything and ultimately allowed Shazam! to have more creative freedom in telling its own story:

 “I got a phone call very early in the morning from Dwayne Johnson, which is always very intimidating… he called Hiram and I, he just said, ‘Brothers,” he said, “We’re gonna make Black Adam. We’re gonna tell this story. It’s so big and so important,’ and that was it. It was really an amazing... Dwayne’s instincts are so extraordinary but he was right. Again, we were deep in it and developing that script with both of them and there’s a reason why sometimes in our business sometimes you have to keep moving forward and sometimes the business tells you. We weren’t really cracking it. It wasn’t really working and then that’s when that call came through and everything changed.”

Gacia jumped in, adding how the decision “was very freeing” and that he believes the upcoming movie “is [the] right way to introduce him to the world:”

“It was very freeing,” Garcia admitted about the shift away from having Black Adam and Shazam! debut in the same film. “We were encountering ideas, as you guys know who have seen Shazam!, tonally Shazam! is just very different from Black Adam. To properly make sure you introduce these characters in the right way for the fans and for the world, we wanted to make sure we honored the tone and were doing it the right way. When Dwayne sent us that message, and it shook us up, then we all were like, ‘Oh, this is so much easier now.’ We saw the patch. Shazam! turned into the great property that it is, and that movie came out great. I think you guys will see with this, tonally, we honor Black Adam. I think this is a right way to introduce him to the world where you’ll understand his backstory but you’ll understand his tone spot on, and I think the fans will be able to respond to that.”

Saving Shazam and Black Adam

With how big both of the characters are to each other’s story and world, it feels like the two should definitely exist together. This makes the current setup a little strange—the two theoretically don’t even know each other, even with the very slight teases in Shazam!.

That said, it was certainly the good choice to have them separated out of the gate. Billy Batson has been able to soar and create a following, something which will hopefully happen to Teth-Adam in Johnson’s upcoming adventure. So fans should probably thank the actor for making the fateful call when he did.

But when will fans get to finally see them share the screens? Rumors suggest that it won’t be in Black Adam or Shazam! Fury of the Gods.

Hopefully, the next movie with the two of them will be a big crossover where the two colossuses fight. One could imagine that people would pay good money to see the two throw hands—and lightning.

Black Adam releases in theaters on October 21 and Shazam! Fury of the Gods will follow onDecember 16.