Actor Dwayne Johnson will finally be bringing his talents to the industry of superhero cinema in 2021, playing the titular role in DC's Black Adam. Johnson has been tied to the Black Adam character since 2014, when he initially announced he would appear as the iconic villain in the then-upcoming Shazam! project. But due to Black Adam's unique and intricate backstory, Warner Bros later scrapped this idea, and decided to introduce Shazam's criminal counterpart in his own film after Billy Batson and co. had been established in the DCEU.
Also confirmed for the film is actor Noah Centineo, appearing as Atom Smasher, who has served as both a close friend and enemy of Black Adam in DC lore. But despite recent rumblings of other potential castings for the film, no other cast members have been confirmed; however, Johnson has stated that he would like to find a role for recurring co-star Kevin Hart somewhere within the film, if feasible.
What's most notable about the film's pending production is that Johnson already has close ties with the project's director and screenwriter. Directing the project is Jaume Collet-Serra, best known for his versatile work in the horror and action thriller genres (Orphan, Non-Stop, The Commuter), but is also in charge of the upcoming Jungle Cruise film, in which Dwayne Johnson stars in a lead role. Additionally, writing the script will be Adam Sztykiel, who also has a mixed background, mainly in action thrillers and comedy. He is best known for creating the TV show Undateable, as well as for writing the screenplay for Rampage, which features Johnson at the forefront of that film as well.
Regarding the film's plot, very little has been revealed other than a couple quick peaks at Black Adam himself. However, the rumored overarching story is said to focus on the character's origins before he eventually meets his heroic counterpart Shazam.
Black Adam was originally set to begin filming in July 2020, but has since been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, despite principal photography for the film now being pushed to early 2021, the film is still set for release in that same calendar year on December 22.
The panel kicked off with a teaser trailer consisting mostly of concept art for the upcoming film.
Also revealed in the opening trailer is that at least part of the Black Adam film will take place in the past to show Black Adam's origins, but will also be set in present day after Black Adam's 5,000-year exile.
When asked how powerful Black Adam can be, Johnson answered he is "one of the most powerful" in the DC Universe. He went on to say that while heroes typically have to hold back when fighting their foes, the Black Adam film will show Adam "not showing restraint," claiming it will be "dangerous" while also being "likable."
When asked who he would choose if he could take any DC character with him on an adventure, Johnson answered "Wonder Woman," citing his respect to the character. Johnson also admitted it would "be cool to hang out with Superman," saying "Black Adam and Superman could become friends, or... They won't."
When asked why he chose to portray Black Adam, Johnson said he has been involved with the character for 10+ years, envisioning for a long time what is finally to come in 2021.
The Rock went on to say that one of Black Adam's most desirable traits is that he is an anti-hero, and that he has "his own sense of 'Black Adam justice'", while also saying his "slave origins" had a lot to do with it as well. Johnson said this will go a long way to inform the audience on how Black Adam will "implement justice" in the film.
When asked if Johnson will stay true to Black Adam's comic origins and traits, Johnson gave a simple "yes," saying that he is a "ruthless keeper of justice" and that he will honor that in the upcoming film.
Actor Noah Centineo tuned in to talk with The Rock about his own role in the film as Atom Smasher, saying Smasher will go through a "transformation throughout the film" and he is "not expecting the world of being the superhero."
Johnson stated that it is "so cool" to see the early artwork that shows Atom Smasher next to Black Adam.
When gushing about how much he is looking forward to bringing Atom Smasher to life, Centineo mentioned that Smasher will grow to "the size of the Eiffel Tower, or the Empire State Building"
Johnson revealed that, alongside Atom Smasher, three other new heroes will make their debut - Hawkman, Doctor Fate, and Cyclone - as the Justice Society in Black Adam.
Johnson ended the panel with a message to his fellow DCEU heroes (Flash, Shazam, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, as mentioned by The Rock): “Things will never be the same. Because the hierarchy of power in the DC Universe is about to change.”
WHAT THIS MEANS
While not a whole lot of footage or other imagery was revealed about the Black Adam project, fans did get a great look at three stunning new concept pieces for Johnson's Black Adam, as well as an official title banner.
Many have expected this film to be heavily focused on Black Adam's ancient Egyptian origins, mainly because he was given his own film rather than introducing him in Shazam!. However, the opening sequence seemed to hint that the film will equally - if not more so - focus on Black Adam's resurfacing after his 5,000-year exile (the result of his abuse of the power he was given). Johnson also continually alluded to Adam's power and might, specifically compared to other DC heroes, suggesting this film will instead focus on establishing Black Adam as the modern threat that he has become over the years.
But Johnson wasn't the only one who made some great reveals about the highly anticipated Black Adam film. Noah Centineo's comments on how the audience will also get to see Atom Smasher grow as a character (both physically and figuratively) is just as exciting, showing the depth that this project holds by progressing several new characters in the DCEU simultaneously.
Another of Johnson's comments that immediately drove fans crazy was when he quickly yet cleverly alluded to a possible showdown between Black Adam and the Man of Steel himself, stating that they either could end up being friends, or not. Johnson later took to Twitter after the Black Adam live panel to reiterate his point, in case someone may have missed it:
The DCEU is in dire need of an action-packed jump start as of late (hopefully Zack Snyder's cut of Justiec League will also help with that). The fact that The Rock immediately sent this tweet out after just having hinted at a possible Adam/Supes matchup is electrifying. A throwdown between Black Adam and Superman would be monumental to say the least, and just the thought of the possibility is enough to raise goosebumps.
Nevertheless, what's easily the most exciting news of this panel for DC fans everywhere is the confirmation that the Justice Society - confirmed to be made up of Hawkman, Doctor Fate, Cyclone, and Atom Smasher - will also be making its DCEU debut in 2021's Black Adam.
This reveal alone sets the precedent for so much potential in the DCEU, while also presenting many valid questions. Will the film really be set in present day, where the Justice Society has yet to be introduced to audiences? Was the Justice Society formed in response to the events in 2017's Justice League, or have they been around for longer? When Johnson said that the Justice Society sees that Black Adam "needs some help," does that mean the Justice Society will be fighting against Adam, or alongside him? Given Black Adam's anti-hero nature, the possibilities are truly endless.