Dwayne Johnson is one of the most bankable and in-demand movie stars at the moment, so it’s a little impressive to think that the guy still hasn’t been in a superhero movie. That’s due to change shortly, as Johnson has been attached to play the DC Comics character Black Adam in a Warner Bros. film for quite some time now. Johnson was originally going to make his Black Adam debut in Shazam!, but during the development of that film, it was decided that Shazam should get his own movie and Black Adam should get his own movie before the two square off against each other.
Warner Bros.’ DC Universe is in a stage of evolution at the moment, as the studio looks to take a different direction post-Justice League with a variety of different films and tones on the books. Wonder Woman 1984 is in production; the light-hearted Shazam! opens next year; and Joaquin Phoenix is leading a gritty, one-off Joker movie.
But what about Black Adam? Has Johnson’s star-vehicle been forgotten? Hardly. I recently got the chance to speak with Hiram Garcia, president of productions at Seven Bucks Productions (which boasts Johnson and Dany Garcia as co CEOs and co-founders) for an exclusive, wide-ranging interview, and during the course of our conversation I asked for a status update on Black Adam and how the project came together. As it turns out, Garcia has been looking to find the perfect superhero vehicle for Dwayne Johnson for quite some time:
“Black Adam is definitely happening. We’re actually very deep into a script on it right now, which is coming along really well. I’m really excited with the story we’ve crafted. Look, I’ve always been a huge comic book fan. I’ve always had this dream, I’ve always wanted to—You know, you kind of have like these goals of like, ‘One day I’d love to be able to do this and this,’ and making a superhero movie was definitely always one of my dreams. For the longest time, you know you kind of have this living superhero in Dwayne Johnson, so I was always trying to figure out what’s the perfect character that will kind of fit him and his look and his build and his kind of edge and the attitude he’s got.”
Garcia explained why they settled on Black Adam for Johnson:
“Black Adam just made kind of great sense. It was this kind of really cool antihero, kicks ass, who believes in basically exacting justice in his way with a fascinating backstory, the history he has with regards to having been a former slave and freeing his people and then getting his abilities and what happened from there. So I pitched that to Dwayne early on, and he loved the idea, and we’ve just kind of kept it in the back of our mind. We had a great conversation with Warner Brothers one time years ago, and we all settled on this was our character.
But as the project was being developed, it was decided that Black Adam and Shazam should have their own separate films:
“So as we were developing an actual Black Adam and Shazam movie, we were just realizing that both characters are so special that we didn’t want to compromise either of them by cramming them both into the same movie. So that’s why we made the decision to let Shazam have his own standalone movie and kind of launch him properly, and then we’ll do the same for Black Adam. And so that kind of really freed things up. It allowed us to develop the right version of both.”
So with Shazam! off the ground, where does that leave Black Adam? Garcia says the script phase is well underway:
“So where we are now with Black Adam is we just got our latest script [from Adam Sztykiel]. We’re doing some revisions on it. We’re extremely excited about it, the studio’s very excited about it. And I’m telling you man, as a comic book fan, when this thing comes out, it is going to be amazing (laughs). This is the fanboy in me talking to you, it’s going to deliver on the goods of everything you’d want to see Black Adam do, he’s going to be doing in this film.”
Garcia also reiterated that this version of Black Adam will not be softened up for audiences—he’s going to be formidable:
“Especially when he’s not a boy scout. Especially when he’s got edge to him. Like, he’s not the boy scout superhero, he’s the guy that’s like, okay, you cross him? Well, I rip your head off, and then I move on to the next guy.”
As Warner Bros. is getting a bit more loose creatively with its DC projects, it’ll be interesting to see if that edge in Black Adam translates to an R-rated superhero film. Regardless, fans have been waiting a long time to see Dwayne Johnson tackle a comic book adaptation, and it sounds like this is going to be well worth the wait when it finally happens.