Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has become a billionaire simply because he’s him. There’s no nuance, no layers, just him being him. And that’s fine for the most part. But a big part of who he’s become is predicated on him being a nice guy. Before anyone let him near Black Adam, that should have been discussed. You see, in the comics, Black Adam is a mean, violent, all around bad hombre. He’s had occasional moments where became an anti-hero, but those aren’t his day-to-day M.O. In fact, it wasn’t until this century that DC writers Jerry Ordway, Geoff Johns, and David S. Goyer redefined him as a flawed anti-hero who was trying to win his reputation back. There are massive internal struggles that he has to battle as often as villains or heroes. The Rock’s interpretation managed to be none of those things and all of them at once. His version of the character played out like a WWE match, with all the subtlety that implies. Supporting characters, that most people would be unfamiliar with, sprang onto the screen fully formed with no back story or explanation. Occasional spoken flashbacks did little to help.
Fortune Magazine has some behind the scenes dirt on what else went wrong.
Johnson reportedly turned down the idea of sharing screen space with Levi in a post-credits scene, typically a short yet important snippet at the end of most superhero movies that teases an upcoming movie in the franchise. When promoting Black Adam, Johnson promoted his face-off with Superman, played by Cavill, undermining “Shazam” in the public eye. And Levi has seemed to confirm the bad blood on social media, reposting a story to his Instagram about TheWrap’s report on Johnson’s refusal to work with him.
“Dwayne tries to sell himself as bigger than the movie,” a Hollywood executive told TheWrap under anonymity. “Instead of making a movie, he wants to extend his brand and make a brand centered on himself.”
It gets worse.
As reported in AV Club, Johnson tried to take over the entire DC cinematic superhero universe.
“The Wrap confirms that in Shazam! Fury Of The Gods, the Justice Society from Black Adam were recruiting Shazam in the post credits,” the post reads. “The Rock denied access and [Shazam! director] David F. Sandberg had to make a last minute decision to add Emilia and John. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson attempted to restructure the DCEU, centering him and Henry Cavill’s Superman. The Rock didn’t allow Zachary Levi to cameo in a post-credit for Black Adam.
To use The Wrap’s verbiage, Johnson further “kneecapped” Shazam! Fury Of The Gods by refusing access to Black Adam characters for the movie. In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, director David F. Sandberg, using his most diplomatic voice possible, explained how the Fury Of The Gods post-credits scene came together.
So there were supposed to be characters from [Black Adam’s] Justice Society, but that fell apart three days before we were going to roll cameras. I was really upset because we had built that abandoned gas station set, and we could only shoot that scene in that little piece of forest. I was like, “This is so boring. We need something here.” So the art department built that whole gas station and brought in some old cars and things. They made it look really nice with very few resources, and so I was like, “We have this set and we have the time, so we have to shoot something here.”
So, Peter Safran, who produced this movie and Peacemaker, made some calls, and thankfully, Jen Holland and Steve Agee were able to come by on very short notice. I mean, the scene makes a little less sense with them. It’s like, “Why are they recruiting for Justice Society?” but you can kind of see it as they’re working for Amanda Waller [Viola Davis].
Just for fun keep in mind that Johnson took a hundred million of Warner’s dollars and used that to help tank another hundred million dollar property the company had.
This is not how you make friends.
If Shazam gets a third movie, and all indicators now say that is likely, smart money says Black Adam will make an appearance, but he won’t look like The Rock.
Contact Bill McCormick
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