Although Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson played a superhero in the movie Black Adam, according to Hollywood insiders, his backstage machinations have some people in Hollywood seeing him as a real-life villain.
According to several reports, Johnson’s quest to become a lynchpin player in the DC Cinematic Universe helped contribute to the disappointing box office results of the studio’s most recent release, Shazam! Fury of the Gods.
Allegedly, in trying to position his Black Adam character as a central figure in the DCU, Johnson made key decisions that minimized Shazam’s prestige level in the eyes of ticket-buyers. The movie grossed $30 million in its opening weekend, a decrease of over 40% from the first Shazam film’s opening weekend).
Specifically, Johnson fought to feature a mid-credit scene in Black Adam that saw his character face off against Superman. Johnson jockeyed to have actor Henry Cavill reprise his role as Superman, who he played in three earlier DCU films. This was a departure from the source comic book material, in which Shazam is the character with whom Black Adam is usually linked. It’s believed that Johnson was concerned that pitting his character against the more family-friendly Shazam character as opposed to the iconic Superman would impair the chance of Black Adam becoming a – if not the – central character in the DCU.
In another power play, Johnson allegedly vetoed a post-credit scene in his movie that would have seen Shazam – who is played on-screen by Zachary Levi – recruited into the Justice Society of America by characters that had been featured heavily in Black Adam. He also reportedly blocked the use of those characters in Fury of the Gods.
Those moves were seen by Hollywood executives as Johnson believing he was bigger than the movie. “He’s one of the few people who always thinks he’s the most important person in any situation or room,” one told The Wrap. “By alienating the established property that his character was born out of, and refusing to integrate with other established characters, [Johnson] systematically crippled two franchises, and has harmed DC in the process,” said another.
In an Instagram post this past week, Levi seemed to confirm the reports, sharing a post mentioning The Wrap’s reporting and adding the comment “The truth shall set you free.”
Since the release of Black Adam, and after an executive shake-up of the DCU, which saw director-producer James Gunn take over the brand, it has been announced that Cavill will not be reprising the role of Superman. And there are currently no plans to bring Johnson’s Black Adam back to the big screen. The announced new direction for the MCU under James Gunn is another reason why audiences have no desire to see the Shazam sequel.
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