Dwayne Johnson Says The Rock’s Spectacular Heel Turn Inspired Black Adam: According to Dwayne Johnson, the production of Black Adam was a struggle from start to finish. And one that he couldn’t have accomplished without The Rock, his heel-ready professional wrestler image.
The beginnings of Black Adam predate The Rock’s time in the WWE, which came to an end with a third heel turn flavored with Hollywood celebrity. Johnson and New Line Cinema started corresponding in 2007 about a potential Shazam movie.
The movie, which would tell the stories of Shazam (aka Captain Marvel) and Black Adam, was conceived to have a lighter tone under the watchful eye of comedy director Peter Segal (who would later work with Johnson on getting Smart). At that time, the wrestler-turned-actor had The Scorpion King, The Rundown, and the more family-friendly Gridiron Gang under his belt.
Johnson reportedly turned down the role of Shazam because he thought Black Adam had more promise. However, the film would spend a decade in Development Hell. Johnson claims that the version of the character that will be released in October “is not at all” what was originally intended.
Shazam and Black Adam, in one film, trying to portray both origin tales inside 100 minutes, was the movie that was finally delivered after years and years of debate, conversation, and conflict, Johnson tells Polygon. And it appeared to have been put together. It didn’t seem to give both characters and both origin stories importance and respect.
Despite all the back and forth, according to Johnson, the script for the movie with two leads wasn’t even completed until six or seven years ago. He called Warner Bros. execs in response to the manuscript and questioned the project’s premise as a whole.
“I responded, ‘I believe we need to turn in a different direction. Johnson remembers saying, “I think we should split this up and make two movies. “Because [the writing] was funnier, it was incredibly difficult. On our side, the Seven Bucks [Johnson’s production firm] side, the Black Adam we saw was that Black Adam was violent, intense, and really fucking pissed. He was wiped away and lost his family. That anger is his. And that was difficult because there are so many kids here and we’re trying to establish that [tone].”
Johnson is brought back to a gritty wavelength by Black Adam. The Rock DNA can be seen in his early films, despite the fact that his career is peppered with PG blockbusters (Race to Witch Mountain, Tooth Fairy, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island) and tentpoles for all ages (the Jumanji trilogy, Skyscraper, Red Notice).
He leans into a meaner streak that is comparable to The Rock’s feather-ruffling ring character in all of his roles, including the gruff hero of his Walking Tall remake, the insane action star in Southland Tales, and even his early outings as Luke Hobbs in the Fast franchise.
Bringing genuine wrath to Black Adam and creating a force that might (as Johnson has frequently stated in the media) alter “the DC Universe’s power structure” could be the zenith of that.”
Johnson chuckles a little when I ask him if he drew inspiration from his time as The Rock, particularly from his infamous 1998 heel flip that saw him link up with Vince McMahon and transform his identity into the “Corporate Champion.” “Man, I really like what you said.”
Even though Johnson hasn’t worked in the wrestling industry on a regular basis for almost 20 years, he still finds it worthwhile to think back on his time as his WWE character. He claims that “The Rock” was crucial in guiding Black Adam away from what he might have become in 2007 and toward what Johnson and fans of the DC universe are really yearnings for.
People might not have agreed with my ‘why,’ and they might not have agreed with the things that I would do when I was a heel and made that heel turn. Wrestling was really different back then. Attitude Era violence was significantly worse. Many things that you could not get away with today, we got away with.
Even while people might not have agreed with the heel Rock, they all understood his motivations because I had the chance to discuss it and talk trash the way The Rock did. There were many similarities there, therefore. While you might not agree and you might see Black Adam as a supervillain, antihero, defender, or even a superhero… everyone understands, and that’s the link to him.
Black Adam was brought to the big screen with a Rock-like swagger through a combination of force and talk. It took Johnson and his team years to bring their vision to the big screen, from the choice to create a standalone Black Adam movie in the first place to the decision to include the Justice Society and other well-known DC Comics characters.