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Dwayne Johnson Talks The Long Haul Fight To Include The Justice Society & Superman In His New DC Film [Interview]

Feb 1, 2023

Dwayne Johnson’s epic “Black Adam” thunders into theaters this weekend. A film about 15 years in the making— Johnson recently shared a story on social media sharing a press hit about him playing the character in 2007—Johnson has just never given up on the anti-hero character.
Directed by Jaume Collet Serra, who already led Johnson in Disney’s “Jungle Cruise” (2021), “Black Adam” tells the story of the fictional country Kahndaq and its heroic champion Teth-Adam (Johnson) 2600 BC. In 2022, Kahndaq is oppressed by a crime syndicate known as Intergang. And when a local archaeologist (Sarah Shahi), the mystic prize she seeks, and Intergang cross swords, Teth-Adam is awoken and causes major havoc in his vengeance.
READ MORE: Dwayne Johnson Says It’s “Absolutely” The Plan For Black Adam To Fight Superman: “That Is The Whole Point Of This”
As this calamity becomes an international incident, U.S. government official Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) sends in a new group of heroes, the Justice Society—Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan) Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell) and Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo)—to clean up the mess.
But Teth-Adam (Black Adam) does not play well with others. What transpires is a complicated mix of fisticuffs, diplomacy, and trying to appeal to an all-powerful God who isn’t used to taking orders or playing any team sports. And that’s not even getting into the real antagonist of it all and the secrets of the past that still haunt our (anti-) hero. “Black Adam” is essentially about a champion of men who lost everything, and in his bitter-held, black-and-white rage still sees justice as revenge. To move forward, he has to face literal and figurative demons (our review).
We recently were lucky enough to chat with Johnson over zoom, and the charismatically enthusiastic star told us all about his devotion to the character, the long, persistent fight he fought to include all the supporting characters in the film, and of course, now, his famous post-credits guest star. My chat with Johnson is as follows.
I looked back and saw stories about you in “Black Adam” from 2008, 2009! So, tell me about what it is like not losing faith in that and knowing we’re going to go the distance, even if it’s almost 15 years later.Dude, I was ready to go the distance with “Black Adam.” We had discussed this back in 2008, 2009, as you said, and then about ten years ago, it started to feel like it was real with the studio. And then you begin to realize that maybe “Black Adam” isn’t the priority to them that I feel it is to me. And you start to feel the writing on the wall, and then a few years later, after we just continued to push for “Black Adam,” the studio had asked if there were any other DC characters that I had my eye on or that I would be interested in playing and developing.
And I said, “no,” to be honest with you. “No, thank you, thank you for asking, but the answer is no.” For me, it’s “Black Adam.” And I realized then, “Okay, I’m in it for the long haul, and this is going to be a long push, and it’s going to be a long fight, but I’m happy to be here sitting here across from you now talking to you about “Black Adam.” It has been a long tenure, a long, arduous fight, and a journey. But it’s one of those things where I grew up with DC. I love DC, I’m DC to the core. I like Marvel a lot, and they’re all my friends, but I love DC, man. It’s a funny thing where I love Batman, I love Superman, I love Wonder Woman, I love these characters. But just take a look past them and look at the DC bible, and there are so many cool, badass, fun complex characters that we can deliver to the world. And so here we are.
Right, to that end, as you allude to, tell me about the decision to include the Justice Society because they are a cool team with cool characters, but definitely not as well known.Yeah, when we realized “This is real,” this movie is greenlit, and we are going, then it was, “well, let’s introduce Black Adam,” but all of us at Seven Bucks Productions [editor’s note: Dwayne Johnson’s production company], we’re all DC fans. And so, we thought, let’s introduce the Justice Society, and it was, again, it was a little bit of a battle because there’s no real reference. The world didn’t really know who the JSA was except if you were like us and you knew the comics and the mythology.
So again, we’re going to fight [laughs]. I’m going to fight for this, and we’re going to introduce the JSA. And also, it wasn’t just selfishly thinking about Black Adam; it was also selfishly thinking about building out the DC Universe. Marvel has done it and continues to do it brilliantly. We don’t have to be Marvel, and we shouldn’t be Marvel. There’s only one Marvel. We wanna be DC, right?
But let’s build out the DC universe and let’s introduce the Justice Society. And not only that but let’s not be afraid that the world doesn’t know who the JSA is. That’s okay if we do our end in the art of storytelling, right? Not only in the movie but certainly as we sell the movie. Well, it’s my job and our job to tell the world, “You know that Justice League that you all love?” Yes? Well, there’s a group that predated the Justice League, and they are cool, and they are badass, and here’s the characters and a lot of the superheroes that you know and love today have gone through the JSA. So, the fight was on again, man, for them [laughs]. So, you know, I’m happy to say that we’ve launched five new superheroes in “Black Adam” and many more are to come.
So, it is safe to say we’re going to see you again in this role or a sequel? Are we going to see you facing off against, you know, all the people in this film? I’m dancing around this a bit [laughs]Man, I would love that. On our end, I and my producers feel this is why we acknowledged all the other DC superheroes in “Black Adam,” even though those scenes with all the posters, and of course, through real characters. In our world, we acknowledge everyone in the DCEU, and they all should crossover, they all should interact, should team up, and they all should fight. For me, it is all a possibility. I wouldn’t close that door. We don’t on our end at Seven Bucks. We don’t close the door on any of that. I gotta tell you the thing that I like most, the thing that gives me the most gratification about “Black Adam,” is ultimately what we have done with the film is just listening to the fans.
So, two things, in 2008, 2009, when we first started talking about “Black Adam” and “Shazam,” I remember a journalist asked me then, “Hey, between Black Adam and Shazam, do you have a choice? Like, who would you rather play?” Now, I always knew Black Adam, but I said, “You know what, I won’t even answer that. I’ll let the fans answer that.” I didn’t think that was going to go anywhere [laughs]. But the fans said, “Oh, he has gotta play, Black Adam.” Now again, I always knew it was “Black Adam” for me, but we listened to the fans. So, in a way, we’re delivering for the fans now, years later, at the end of our movie, you’ve seen the movie, right?
Yes, sir.So, you know where I’m going with this at the end of our movie when we reintroduce someone who has been inexplicably missing— by the way, and it’s been pissing me off that he’s been on the sideline for five years. But yeah, we reintroduce him back into this world. They both acknowledge each other. And now, moving forward, that is an indicator of where we can all go, not just those two together. I mean just this fact that it’s all possible by listening to the fans. So I’m happy that we were able to deliver on that one too.
By the way, I’m curious, and I know you heard rumblings, but when you saw that at the end, what did you think? Did you like that scene at the end?
Oh we’re allowed to talk spoilers now!?! [Laughs] Sure! I mean, I really like Henry Cavill as this character a lot, and recasting would be a bummer, so I was happy to see him! I have to assume you were instrumental in that.Oh, that was a fight I wasn’t going to lose, man. That was not a fight I was going to lose, I wasn’t going to take no for an answer. None of us on our end at Seven Bucks were not taking no for an answer. It was about a year and a half, a two-year fight, but we did it, man.
Awesome, I’ve gotta wrap. Thank you!Thanks, brother.
“Black Adam” is in theaters in wide release now via Warner Bros.

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