Dwayne Johnson Explains Choosing Black Adam Over Shazam

It isn’t too often that, when a major movie star is the first cast member announced for an upcoming superhero movie, that movie star is not playing the title role.

This, however, is the case with upcoming DC movie ‘Shazam,’ which was announced more than four years before its (initially) scheduled release date in April 2019 - with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson not as the titular hero, but as his darker, initially villainous counterpart Black Adam.

It would seem a puzzling decision, particularly to those less familiar with ‘Shazam’ lore - and, quizzed on the matter by Digital Spy whilst promoting his role in the upcoming ‘Fast & Furious 7,’ Johnson confirms the choice was all his.

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Although ‘Shazam’ may have seemed to pop up almost out of nowhere among the numerous DC movies announced by the comic label and their parent company Warner Bros back in October 2014, the film has in fact been in development at Warners subsidiary New Line Cinema for many years now, with Johnson attached.

Admitting it’s “very true” he could have opted to play Shazam himself, Johnson explained, “I felt ultimately - and this is with all due respect to Shazam and Billy Batson, it’s a mythology that I love that’s been with me for almost ten years now - what made me choose Black Adam was, I just inherently felt Black Adam was more interesting…

“I felt there were more layers to Black Adam, starting out as a slave, and ultimately becoming the anti-hero who we enjoy today. But I’ve always said that’s got to be earned.”

Johnson also says that fan opinion had a role to play in his decision.

“In 2007 or 2008, I can’t remember which year it was, I publicly took a swing. I was like, okay, I’m just gonna ask - and I asked the fans, who would you rather see me play? I left it up to them… and Black Adam won out.”

Still, it does remain surprising that Johnson’s casting would be announced so far in advance of ‘Shazam’s release date, with no director or other cast members yet revealed. This writer for one has pondered whether DC might have left so sizeable a gap to ensure that whoever takes on the role of Shazam has enough time to bulk up to Rock-like proportions…

Or is it possible we’ll see Shazam and/or Black Adam just a bit sooner? Johnson has already suggested the film might arrive earlier than initially scheduled.

On top of which, there have been rumours that Black Adam might turn out to be one of the villains in the upcoming ‘Justice League’ movies. This might tie in with what Johnson says about “earning” anti-hero status; again, in the comics chronology the character is meant to start out as purely a bad guy. Johnson has also promised we will one day see Black Adam trade punches with Superman…

In the meantime, Johnson reprises another of his notable anti-hero roles, Luke Hobbs, in ‘Fast & Furious 7,’ in cinemas this Friday, 3 April.

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Picture Credit: Universal, DC