5 Ways The Rock’s DC Plans Backfired

Before the release of Black Adam, Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson had big plans for the future of DC films, but they definitely won’t come to fruition now.

Donald “the Rock” Johnson once had grand ideas for the DC Universe’s future, but it appears that all of them have been abandoned. Since Shazam! began production, Johnson has been connected to the DC movie universe, having been cast to either portray the young superhero Shazam or the villain Black Adam. In the end, Shazam! was divided into two films, with Zachary Levi playing Billy Batson, a.k.a. Shazam, and Dwayne Johnson portraying Black Adam in an eponymous 2022 spinoff movie, with the idea that the two would eventually cross paths onscreen in the DC universe.

5 Ways The Rock's DC Plans Backfired

After Black Adam’s release in October 2022, Johnson started to report that Black Adam would be the first movie in “Phase One” of a brand-new DC Studios storytelling effort, with new projects being centered around Black Adam and his connections to other DCEU characters. The most notable example of this was Henry Cavill’s Superman, whose appearance in the post-credits sequence of Black Adam suggested that the actor would remain in the role. Johnson’s DC Studios master plan, however, has come to an abrupt stop as a result of James Gunn and Peter Safran’s acquisition of DC Studios, the announcement of the upcoming Chapter 1 projects, and the 2023 release of the commercial failure Shazam! Fury of the Gods.

5 Black Adam Underperformed At The Box Office

dwayne the rock johnson as teth adam aka black adam in dc

Over its several years of development, Black Adam became a passion project for Dwayne Johnson, and the stepping stone for his bright and lengthy future in the DC Universe. However, Black Adam didn’t fare as well as anybody at DC had hoped, with the film only grossing a total of $393 million at the box office on a budget of over $200 million after marketing and distribution costs. This earned Black Adam the loathed box-office flop status, becoming the latest in a long line of DC projects to be met with mixed-to-negative reviews and suffer financially, with no DC Studios project passing the $400 million mark since 2018’s Aquaman.

The root of Black Adam’s box office problems lie with its use of budget, with several high-profile names such as Pierce Brosnan, Viola Davis, Henry Cavill, and Dwayne Johnson himself stretching the budget very thin. This was perhaps a contributing factor to criticisms surrounding the often lackluster visual effects of Black Adam, particularly in one now-iconic moment of flight for Johnson’s Teth-Adam. While a smaller budget worked for Shazam!, a film considered a hit despite only grossing $366 million (on a $100 million budget), Black Adam simply didn’t strike the same chord with audiences.

4 Dwayne Johnson Has No DC Movie Future Now

black adam in dceu in front of explosion

On October 20, 2022, one day before Black Adam’s release, producers Hiram Garcia and Beau Flynn revealed to Comicbook.com that a sequel to Black Adam was already planned, and had been fast-tracked into development. This sequel would have marked the build up to an eventual battle between Johnson’s Black Adam and Cavill’s Superman, connecting directly to Black Adam’s post-credits scene. These plans were reiterated in December of that year, despite the fallout from Black Adam’s box-office failure and the massive changes occurring at DC Studios as Gunn and Safran took over as co-CEOs from former head Walter Hamada.

It was later on in December when James Gunn confirmed that there were currently no plans to develop a sequel to Black Adam. All hope might not be lost for Dwayne Johnson, however, as Gunn did mention that there may be valuable ways to include Black Adam in the future of his new DC Universe, but with most other projects being rebooted, recast, and reshuffled, it’s likely that Johnson’s career at DC Studios has come to an end. This has been all but confirmed since Shazam! Fury of the Gods also failed at the box office, and Johnson’s plans for a Black Adam and Superman battle have finally been dashed.

3 Henry Cavill’s Superman Return Was Quickly Ended

henry cavill as superman in black adam cameo

James Gunn and Peter Safran assumed control of DC Studios on November 1, 2022, and immediately set to work on designing a new slate of projects for the future of the franchise, hoping to revitalize the world of DC films and move away from the mistakes of the past. Prior to this, however, Henry Cavill’s cameo in Black Adam’s post-credits scene, his first time appearing as Superman since 2017’s Justice League, sparked speculation that he would finally be returning to the coveted role. Cavill himself claimed his cameo would be “a very small taste of what’s to come” on an October 24, 2022 Instagram post.

Despite a highly-anticipated sequel to 2013’s Man of Steel being reported to be in development before Gunn and Safran’s appointment, which would have connected directly to Black Adam, December 2022 saw Gunn reveal that Cavill would not be returning as Clark Kent, a.k.a. Superman, in the new DC Universe. Instead, 2025’s Superman: Legacy, the film expected to kick off Gunn’s new DCU, would reboot the character and star a new actor in the role. While this caused an uproar among Cavill’s fans, Gunn also mentioned that he had been in talks with Cavill about returning as a new character, though it’s unclear if this will actually occur.

2 Justice Society Can Return… But Without Black Adam

aldis hodge as hawkman of the justice society in black adam

One of the best aspects of Black Adam was the introduction of the Justice Society of America, featuring Dr. Fate, Hawkman, Cyclone, and Atom Smasher. The Justice Society were the first team of superheroes ever introduced, debuting in 1940’s All Star Comics #3, and even though they were seen in various forms in DC TV shows such as Smallville, Legends of Tomorrow, and StargirlBlack Adam marked their debut in the DC shared universe. Black Adam’s failure could mean that the Justice Society will once again be going back into hiding, but they could still have one clear connection to Gunn’s new DC Universe.

The Justice Society of America were once again referenced during Shazam! Fury of the Gods’ mid-credits scene, which saw Jennifer Holland and Steve Agee reprise their roles of Emilia Harcourt and John Economos from HBO Max’s Peacemaker series. The pair of ARGUS agents approached Shazam with the proposition of joining the Justice Society, though he mistakenly assumed they were discussing the much more high-profile Justice League. This establishes a clear connection between the Justice Society and Peacemaker, and since the latter has been confirmed to have a future in Gunn’s DC Universe, the former could too. This could also tease a potential future for Shazam, even after Fury of the Gods.

1 The Rock Is Being (Partly) Blamed For Shazam 2’s Failure

zachary levi as billy batson aka shazam in shazam 2

Despite initially being involved in the development of Shazam! and Black Adam, it was reported by The Wrap in March 2023 that Dwayne Johnson might have actually contributed to Shazam! Fury of the Gods’ critical and commercial failures. It was revealed that Dwayne Johnson failed Shazam! Fury of the Gods by vetoing several ideas that could have better connected the project to the wider world of the DC Universe. This included featuring a cameo from Zachary Levi’s Shazam in Black Adam’s post-credits scene, and seeing the return of Justice Society members in Shazam! Fury of the Gods’ post-credits scenes.

The fact that Dwayne Johnson himself stepped in to block certain ideas from being produced for Shazam! Fury of the Gods perhaps implies that, until very recently, he had still been under the impression that he could assume some sort of control at DC Studios. After his previous proclamation that Black Adam would be the start of a new storytelling era for DC, it seems that very short-lived era has now come to an end. It’s unclear what the future holds for Shazam and Black Adam in James Gunn and Peter Safran’s DC Universe, but it seems likely that this could be the end of the road for both.

Source: Henry Cavill/Instagram, The Wrap

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