The Rock aims to stabilize the DC universe with ‘Black Adam’

AP – In the era of superheroes in Hollywood so far, there was one particularly notable absence: while several renowned actors took turns wearing tight-fitting uniforms, Dwayne Johnson – arguably the biggest movie star in the world – was out of the loop. Yet.

The Rock didn’t really need a cape to prove his powers. The 6-foot-3, 110-kilogram actor was, in many ways, a superhero in his own right: a skyscraper-climbing Hulk, a shape-shifting demigod, even a pumped-up tooth fairy.

“I was always ready and open to playing a superhero,” Johnson said in a recent interview. “But it had to be right and it had to feel right. I had been approached before to play some superheroes that I ultimately turned down. They ended up going to the right actors to play them. I was just waiting.” .

The fates finally aligned in black adam, a debut so perfect it could be called obvious. When Johnson was first trying on the Black Adam suit, he had the muscle padding removed.

Johnson’s entry into the superhero business comes at a pivotal time for the Extended Universe from DC, which lately has been plagued by scandals and misfires. Ezra Miller, star of the next The Flashhas been arrested twice this year over reports of troubling behavior (in August, Miller sought treatment for what he described as mental health issues). batgirla completed $90 million film for the HBO Maxwas summarily cancelled, sparking protests over its atypical cancellation.

Warner Bros. CEO David Zaslav promised a “reset” to DC’s operations in a review to improve quality and implement a 10-year structure more like Marvel’s. At the center of these two eras is black adamwhich opens in theaters on Thursday, the 21st.

Amid so much turmoil, it certainly doesn’t hurt to welcome a movie star as popular as Johnson, who has 341 million Instagram followers and is often forced to dodge questions about a possible presidential bid. But how much stability The Rock can bring to DC?

“I think the timing is perfect. A great opportunity,” Johnson said. “I’ve been saying for a long time that the power hierarchy in the DC Universe is about to change.”

Before Johnson, few people saw Black Adam as an axis-shifting force. The character, an ancient Egyptian created by Otto Binder and CC Beck, first appeared in a 1945 issue of Fawcett Comics’ In DC Comics, and was generally portrayed as a supervillain and enemy of Captain Marvel (nothing to do with the character of Brie Larson).

More recent approaches have pushed Black Adam more towards antihero status, something reinforced by the film, directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (Jungle Cruise). Summoned to the modern day, Black Adam appears as a reluctant hero who fears his own powers.

In a revealing scene, Black Adam pauses for a moment to watch Clint Eastwood on television as the Nameless Gunslinger – an antihero role model for Black Adam.

“He’s been my inspiration from day one. My favorite actor and certainly one of my favorite directors,” Johnson said. “I’m happy to be able to call Clint my friend. That was my way of honoring him.”

How Black Adam would be presented to movie audiences was not always clear. Initially, Captain Marvel, aka Shazam, and Black Adam were supposed to debut together in the same film. After the script phase, Johnson and others felt that the combined release would do Black Adam a disservice.

“We had a template for a really good idea, but in the end both characters needed a lot of space,” says producer Hiram Garcia. “We were struggling in terms of space and tone. As you’ve seen with the movie’s release, Shazam has a very different tone black adam“.

Shazam!, starring Zachary Levi, was a goofy, well-received hit, grossing $366 million worldwide in 2019 (a sequel will be released in March). The ambitions for black adam are bigger.

The film, made on a budget roughly twice that of Shazam!also features the Justice Society of America, a superhero team featuring Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), Doctor Doom (Pierce Brosnan), Atom Crusher (Noah Centineo) and Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell).

“I always felt it was a matter of convincing our studio partners to try to look beyond Justice League,” Johnson said. “I love Justice League. But when you look beyond them, you open up the DC bible. It has a lot of cool characters that you can explore.”

It went a long way toward developing the film, adapting the role to Johnson, and filming the film with all the delays of Covid-19. Johnson was first announced to play Black Adam in 2014.

“Easy is a word that doesn’t apply to this process,” Garcia said.

But the filmmakers were committed to giving Black Adam the proper release.

“If Dwayne Johnson going to make a superhero, the powers better be top,” said producer Beau Flynn.

Superhero movies aren’t often described as a “passion project,” but that’s how Johnson talks about it. black adam. “Nobody gave him a chance,” he said. Unlike many of the more well-known comic book characters, Johnson isn’t taking on this role secondhand.

“No other actor had taken on the role of Black Adam,” said Johnson, who professes a deep connection to the character. “I’m a guy who speaks his mind. Black Adam is also very direct with his thoughts. The difference is, Black Adam is going to come as a shock to some people. I can be a shock too, but I do it with a smile.” .

Since last summer, Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy have been running the film division of Warner Bros., though no new DC leader has yet been named. Zaslav has been looking for someone to be to his studio what Kevin Feige is to Marvel. For Johnson, ‘Black Adam’ is part of this new chapter for DC.

“I think you’re feeling this sense of urgency and excitement,” Johnson said. “It was a great convergence between black adam and the new leadership.”

Reports have suggested that Johnson, 50, may be heading for his biggest opening weekend at the box office with black adam. But sounding a bit like a WWE wrestler, Johnson is also eyeing his next opponent. Black Adam, he believes, is as powerful as any other hero. He’s aiming for Superman.

“For five years, the most powerful and unstoppable force in the entire superhero universe lay idle, on the sidelines. All this had to come to a new end,” says Johnson. “That’s what I mean by this new era in the DC universe. Let’s get this hero out of the wings and onto the big screen.” / TRANSLATION BY RENATO PRELORENTZOUN

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