By Ani Bundel
Few actors look as if they stepped out of a comic book movie before the training, the makeup, and the costume. But if there’s one everyone can agree on looks as if he should be mistaken for “being here to save the world,” it’s Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The former WWE star has it all: the stepped out of a comic book physique, charisma, and acting talent. So when Warner Bros. Pictures announced back in 2014 it had cast him as Black Adam as part of the ongoing DC Extended Universe, it was as no-brainer a decision as possible.
When casting the man fans refer to as “Mr. The Rock,” the initial plan was to have him appear as part of Shazam! which was slated for 2017. The character is best known as one of the primary villains in the Shazam comics, and adding a chance to smell what the Rock is cooking as a character would give the Captain Marvel rival a boost. But plans change, as many DC fans know. Shazam was delayed until 2019, retooling along the way to become more of a comedy film, and cutting the Black Adam introduction. That left Black Adam to arrive in his own titular film, slated for 2021. In it, fans expect the antagonist will be given more of a sympathetic edit, an anti-hero attempting to clear his reputation, or at least spin his life choices to sound less reprehensible.
Black Adam’s filming should have started earlier this year but was delayed due to the ongoing pandemic. That means fans went into the DC FanDome panel dedicated to the film with little hope of a trailer or footage. Johnson had teased some of the production details ahead of the panel, including the concept art for his costume.
And yet, the panel opened with something akin to a teaser, with an artistic rendering of Adam’s history (created by Jim Lee and BossLogic), narrated by Johnson.
Unlike the other panels, Johnson showed up standing in an illustrated backdrop of Black Adam’s temple, from which he answered fan questions.
Johnson took the opportunity to talk through his character for those who aren’t familiar with him, and how his role is one who doesn’t consider using restraint or worry about how others view them, unlike Superman or Batman. For Johnson, that makes the character very relatable, that he’s willing to use all of his power and damn the consequences. He also admitted how long the film has been in production; not something stars like to talk about publicly. But for The Rock, he sees it as a bit of a passion project, and having been tied to it for nearly ten years is something of a badge of honor.
But The Rock wasn’t the only one from the cast who showed up. Noah Centineo, best known for romantic comedies, has also been cast in Black Adam as Atom-Smasher, and he clearly had been bulking up and working out in quarantine ahead of filming. Speaking of Atom-Smasher, he’s part of the Justice Society, another superhero team-up from the comics. The Rock hinted that Atom-Smasher wouldn’t be the only one to turn up in the film: Hawkman, Dr. Fate, and Cyclone are also in the mix. And that brought The Rock to his closing message, a warning to the Justice League, though he never used that name. He called out his fellow superheroes, one by one, Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and The Flash, to let them know that the world will never be the same now that he’s joined the ranks of comic book superstars.
Black Adam is currently scheduled for release on Dec. 22, 2021.