Earlier today, Dwayne Johnson tweeted that he would be playing Black Adam in a filmed based on DC’s Shazam. The announcement was surprising for a few reasons. For one thing, Black Adam is the Big Bad in the Shazam mythology. For another thing, most of the recent buzz around the bigscreen DC universe had focused on Justice League characters like Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman.
The Shazam project will be produced by New Line, a subsidiary of Warner Bros. proper, and when New Line president Toby Emmerich gets on the phone to EW, he makes it clear that the film will be a different kind of superhero movie. “It feels to me like Shazam will have a tone unto itself,” he explains. “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.”
The usual superhero-movie cone of silence prevents Emmerich from addressing any of the plot elements of Shazam directly. But when asked where the movie would fall on the superhero-movie spectrum (from dark and gritty to light and peppy), Emmerich does allow that the movie “will have a sense of fun and a sense of humor. But the stakes have to be real.”
Although it’s still unknown who will play the heroic titular character—and although New Line isn’t confirming the presence of Marvel family members Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel, Jr.—Emmerich is effusive about the addition of Dwayne Johnson to the DC Universe. Comparing the role to Johnson’s turn in Fast Five, Emmerich describes Black Adam as an antihero.
“Black Adam is a complex character,” says Emmerich. “The villain in superhero movies is often, I think, what makes the movie. And I thought Dwayne’s take on the character, and the way that he saw Black Adam, was really compelling and fun.”
There’s no official release date for Shazam, but the project has hired writer Darren Lemke (who previously worked on New Line’s Jack the Giant Slayer.) Johnson is starring in New Line’s earthquake thriller San Andreas next summer.