Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam has been a long time coming, as the actor has been gunning for the character to hit the big screen since 2007. The closest he had gotten to making that happen was signing on in 2014 for a draft of Shazam!.
While that script never ended up becoming a reality, it did once feature both Billy Batson and The Rock’s favorite anti-hero. Instead, the movie was retooled to focus on just its titular hero, who eventually was portrayed by Zachary Levi within the DC Extended Universe.
That's not to say that things didn’t go well for Black Adam, however. While he was written out of that draft, as many have likely seen by now, he’s gotten his own solo project, which is due out in just over two months.
It’s still hard not to think about what might have been. What if that first Shazam! script had been made with Billy and Black Adam in the spotlight? But what stopped it from happening in the first place?
In a new interview, Dwayne Johnson answered that very question.
Johnson Nixed the First Shazam Script
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Black Adam actor Dwayne Johnson spoke about the first version of Shazam! that he signed on for and how those circumstances ended up changing.
Johnson noted that the first draft of the project “was a combination of Black Adam and Shazam,” but that he “just knew in [his] gut” that it wasn’t the right direction to go in:
“When the first draft of the movie came to us, it was a combination of Black Adam and Shazam: Two origin stories in one movie… now, that was the goal—so it wasn’t a complete surprise. But when I read that, I just knew in my gut, ‘we can’t make this movie like this. We would be doing Black Adam an incredible disservice.’ It would’ve been fine for Shazam having two origin stories converge in one movie, but not good for Black Adam.”
The actor revealed how he “made a phone call” and offered his thoughts on how the studio should “make [Shazam!] on its own in the tone that [they] want” and separate Black Adam into something entirely different:
“I made a phone call… I said, ‘I have to share my thoughts here. It’s very unpopular…’ because everybody thought, ‘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 this as well.’”
While the 2019 Shazam! movie did include one brief allusion to Black Adam, in the form of a cautionary tale from the mysterious wizard, the character has all but entirely removed from the outing.
The Rock also shared how excited he is to be able to “deliver a character that’s never been seen before:”
“I always get asked, nine times out of 10, ‘Well, what’s taken them so long? How come we haven’t heard of this character?… We get a chance to deliver a movie, deliver a character that’s never been seen before. There has been no other Black Adam.”
The Shazam That Never Was
With the original Shazam! film featuring Black Adam, it’s strange how Zachary Levi’s hero is almost never brought up when talking about Dwayne Johnson’s anti-hero. One would think that the two would often be mentioned in the same conversations, given their similarities.
Yet, it’s rare they ever do. In fact, there doesn’t even seem to be any discussions about a big showdown between the two arch nemeses—which is odd, to say the least.
Instead, Johnson, and the fans, seem stuck on the idea of his big bad character taking on Henry Cavil’s Superman. In fact, many were convinced that San Diego Comic-Con 2022 would have a big surprise announcement waiting to blow away audiences—sadly, nothing of the sort happened.
The closest the world has gotten to that showdown is a brief interaction between the two characters in DC’s League of Superpets.
Given the fervor to see either Superman or Shazam go up against Black Adam, it’s probably a safe bet to assume at least one of those is in the cards for a future outing.
Black Adam hits theaters on Friday, October 21.