Dwayne Johnson’s longstanding, potential involvement in a movie based on the DC Comics character Captain Marvel — better known as “Shazam” — is a scenario that goes back years, with the oft-delayed or otherwise stalled project never quite getting off the ground. The project seemed to gain a little momentum recently, and now we have the closest we’ve ever had to official confirmation that at some point in the future, a Shazam movie will arrive in theaters and Johnson will indeed be in it.
After recently hinting that he wasn’t sure whether he wanted to play Shazam or his similarly super-powered nemesis, Black Adam, Johnson took to Twitter yesterday to announce that he had chosen the latter.
“‘Kneel at his feet or get crushed by his boot.’ My honor to become.. #BlackAdam #TheAntiHero #DCComics” wrote Johnson, accompanying the post with a comic-book image of Black Adam in mid-brawl with Shazam.
In the DC Comics universe, Black Adam is a corrupted version of Shazam who hailed from the fictional Middle Eastern country of Kahndaq and defended that nation and much of Egypt from evil in ancient times. After deciding that he should rule Egypt instead of simply protecting it, the wizard who gave him his powers was forced to banish him. Centuries later, the wizard bestowed similar powers on teenage boy Billy Batson, who became the hero known as Shazam.
While he was initially conceived as a villainous foil for Shazam in a 1945 comic featuring the hero, Black Adam has become more of an antihero in recent years as he attempts to reclaim his legacy as a protector of his homeland in the DC Comics universe. Not averse to using violent methods to enforce his version of justice, he has gone from being a villain to a former member of the Justice Society superhero team, only to assume a position somewhere between hero and villain in the modern continuity, willing to do anything to protect the interests of his homeland.
Not long after Johnson announced that he’d be playing Black Adam, the project was confirmed by New Line Cinemas, the Warner Bros. subsidiary that will produce the film. Along with offering some perspective on how the film will compare to the other DC Comics movies in the works, New Line president Toby Emmerich said the studio has hired screenwriter Darren Lemke (Jack the Giant Slayer, Turbo) to pen the first draft of the script.
“It feels to me like Shazam will have a tone unto itself,” Emmerich told EW. “It’s a DC comic, but it’s not a Justice League character, and it’s not a Marvel comic. The tone and the feeling of the movie will be different from the other range of comic book movies. . . . [It] will have a sense of fun and a sense of humor. But the stakes have to be real.”
Emmerich added that Black Adam will be a “complex character” in the film.
“The villain in superhero movies is often, I think, what makes the movie,” he said. “And I thought Dwayne’s take on the character, and the way that he saw Black Adam, was really compelling and fun.”
There’s currently no release date set for the Shazam movie. Given that the film is being produced by New Line and not Warner Bros., there’s also no certainty that it will connect with the greater DC Comics universe that will be introduced in Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, either.