Finally, the Shazam! movie is beginning to make sense.
For years now we’ve heard of Dwayne Johnson’s slow progress towards building this movie. Its position in the current DCEU has been speculated upon, and fans have been left uncertain about what kind of movie they’re actually going to see.
The biggest unknown for the movie, though, comes from Johnson’s decision to play Black Adam, who in the comics is often held up as the primary nemesis of Captain Marvel (who has been renamed Shazam to avoid confusion with the Avenger of the same name).
It’s rare for a movie to cast its villain so far in advance of getting its lead actor sorted, and with Dwayne Johnson and Henry Cavill teasing an appearance from Superman in the movie, it’s been difficult to figure out if there’s even any room for Shazam in his own movie, with so many high profile super powered people flying around.
Now, though, Dwayne Johnson has made some comments which might just clear up how this movie all fits together, and it’s all thanks to his rather unusual view of Black Adam as more than just a musclebound supervillain.
“I love the role of Black Adam,” Johnson said in a recent YouTube video, “I love that he starts off as a slave, that he felt like he was wronged”.
Sympathetic movie villains aren’t exactly new at this stage – Marvel has Loki, while DC tried something similar in the ill-fated Green Lantern movie starring Ryan Reynolds.
But Johnson’s next comment revealed that he isn’t planning to present Black Adam as a villain at all:
“I just love that backstory, and I think Black Adam has always been, for me, the most intriguing superhero.”
Apparently, in the Shazam! movie, Black Adam isn’t going to be a bad guy – he’s going to be a superhero.
This is an interesting choice. While the modern comic book version of Black Adam certainly does come across as more of an antihero than a straight up villain, Johnson’s comments suggest that we’ll be seeing a very different iteration of the character in the upcoming movie.
It’s possible that Shazam! will feature Black Adam in a similar role to that of Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Baron Mordo in Doctor Strange, as a comic book villain who’s reimagined as a heroic character for the sake of an initial origin story.
Of course, even with this potential insight into the shape of Black Adam’s character in Shazam!, we’re still missing one big piece of information: who will play the lead character? And, if we’re asking that question, what will his backstory be? How will the movie fit together?
If there truly is going to be a fight between Black Adam and Superman, even if Black Adam isn’t an entirely villainous character, it still seems like there might not be room for Shazam in his own movie.
So what if he’s not in it?
We’d all been assuming that the movie’s title, Shazam!, refers to Captain Marvel, using the magic word that triggers his powers to allow him to transform into his superhuman form.
What if, alternatively, this is a reference to Black Adam himself, who uses the same word, and the same power source, to trigger his own transformation?
This approach would made sense based on everything Johnson has revealed about the movie so far. What’s more, it would get DC out of the awkward position of having a Captain Marvel movie coming out in the same year as Marvel’s own Captain Marvel film.
Putting Black Adam front and center in this movie simply makes sense – especially considering Johnson’s own preference for playing the Egyptian slave-turned-superhero.
Chances are, though, fans of the original Captain Marvel aren’t exactly going to be thrilled if The Rock goes through with these plans.