For obvious reasons, upcoming Warner Bros./DC films such as Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad are at the forefront of many minds, as those two movies are set to expand the blossoming DC Cinematic Universe in full force when they reach theaters next year. However, last year, the Shazam adaptation made some headlines. Despite not premiering until 2019, the studio has already locked in one principal cast member: the oft-rumored Dwayne Johnson, who will play Shazam’s arch nemesis Black Adam.
The charismatic actor is certainly excited about getting an opportunity to sink his teeth into a role like this (a sentiment several viewers share), teasing that he’s looking forward to balancing the character’s ruthlessness and charm in his portrayal. Now, Johnson is providing further hints as to how layered his performance might be, while also detailing how Shazam will fit into the overarching film universe.
In an interview with Total Film (hat tip to GamesRadar), Johnson briefly discussed his part in the DC world. Though Shazam is still without a director, it does have a screenplay that was written by Bill Birch. According to the movie’s star, comic fans are going to enjoy the scribe’s work when it comes to how it depicts its characters:
“I think Black Adam is going to grow into becoming an anti-hero. It’s all written within the spirit of respecting and paying homage to the comics. As we know, Black Adam started out as a slave. When he’s given the powers, he utilized them. Then in the wake of his powers, tragedy strikes, which turns his sentiment and tone in terms of psychology.”
Johnson’s comment that Black Adam is going to “grow” into his anti-heroic state is an interesting one, as it hints he’ll have a rather rich character arc over the course of the film. The tragedy Johnson’s referring to could be the incident in the comics where the wizard Shazam (who gave Adam his powers) banishes Black Adam to the far corners of the universe after discovering he had used the powers maliciously. Comic writers including Geoff Johns have portrayed the character as a corrupted anti-hero fighting to clear his name, which would be compelling to see on-screen; and arguably, a nice change-of-pace from your typical comic book movie bad guy.
Though initially there was some confusion over whether or not Shazam would be a part of the main shared DC film universe, it has been officially confirmed that the project will be connected to the others that are on WB’s slate. Those looking forward to seeing Johnson go toe-to-toe with the likes of Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck are in luck, as the actor says the interconnectedness of it all will lead to many possibilities:
“One day you will see Black Adam go at it with Superman or Batman or any of the DC characters. But that said, there’s a great independence to Black Adam from the DC world, allowing us to inject, not only viciousness, but also winking humor.”
Those who have been following Shazam‘s development for a while shouldn’t be too surprised at Johnson’s comment about the “winking humor.” It’s long been expected that this particular film will be more light-hearted in tone when compared to the broodier installments of this franchise. Johnson’s use of the word “viciousness” is a sign that Shazam won’t short-change viewers on the dramatic stakes, but incorporating some fun into the proceedings would be nice to see from WB/DC.
What will jump out to most moviegoers is the first bit of that above quote, as it’s seemingly a confirmation that Shazam will not be the only DC film Johnson takes part in. From the sounds of it, he’s planning on showing up in a Justice League film to do battle with the heroes. Perhaps not-so-coincidentally, Shazam will hit theaters a few months before Justice League Part 2, meaning viewers will be acclimated to him prior to a big team-up. Maybe he’s going to be part of a movie Injustice Gang? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Shazam will be in theaters April 5, 2019.