One of the biggest events at Comic-Con 2014 is the highly-anticipated reveal of Warner Bros.’ designs for the DC Movie Universe, which kicks off in 2016 with Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, and then continues into a rollout that – if rumored release dates are true – is going to be highly ambitious.
A Justice League sequel to Batman V Superman is no surprise – neither are the Wonder Woman and Batman solo films that are expected to follow – but one thing that was very surprising within the turns of the rumor mill was mention that a Shazam movie was not only in development, but would be arriving much sooner rather than much later.
Shazam has been a DC property looking adaptation for quite a long some time, but after so many spurts and stalls, few fans expected to see it get off the ground within the current incarnation of the DCU. However, in recent months Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (pretty much THE actor attached to this project throughout its development struggles) has been teasing fans with what looks to be soon-coming announcement of his starring role in Shazam – but as for who he is playing? Well that’s a different story….
Someone's gonna get it.. pic.twitter.com/eH7GzWxx0u— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) July 24, 2014
From the image above in Johnson’s tweet, it’s clear that the role he’s circling is either that of the titular hero, Shazam, or his nemesis, Black Adam. As for further clues, here’s what Johnson said in a different tweet many, many months ago:
And then, from a later, more extensive tease:
“The first quality we were looking for is that he had to be extremely complex and have a lot going on and what that does for me as an actor and for the studio, just gives us space that we can explore his complexities. The other quality is that the character we were looking for had to be well known but never brought to life. That does, again as an actor, is that it gives me a little bit of space and it just gives me a chance to put an imprint into his personality with the set of tools that I can bring to the table and put a very unique twist on his personality but still pay homage to who he is. The third thing and most important is that he had to be a badass mother***ker and on a Superman level of power where he could throw down.
“In those three qualities, I’m happy we’ve found that character and right now we’re out to a lot of writers.”
All, in all, there is precious little there to help distinguish which role he’s playing. Both Shazam and Black Adam have their complexities (the hero is a kid in a Superman body, the villain is a corrupted ancient predecessor of the hero); neither has appeared in a live-action film; both have Superman levels of power (albeit fueled by magic). As stated: little there to clarify which role Johnson is playing.
From a business standpoint, it makes sense to have Johnson be Shazam, as that would be the most lucrative and long-lasting choice for the future of the franchise and the larger DCU. However, if Johnson is interested in something with less of a commitment, a good one-off villain role would serve that purpose.
For those unfamiliar, “Shazam” is the story of a young boy (Billy Batson) who is basically granted the power to change into a Superman-esque hero by calling upon the name of an ancient wizard and being struck by magic lightning.
In the sense of the larger DCU, Shazam is a pivotal character; great DC projects like Kingdom Come or Return of Black Adam have explored just how much of a threat Shazam (or Black Adam) can be – even to a guy like Superman, who is vulnerable to their magic. On the other hand, the New 52 and films like Justice League: War have shown how Shazam and his child alter-ego are a good compliment to characters like Cyborg within the ranks of the League.
This whole Dwayne Johnson mystery won’t last long; on Saturday at Comic-Con, DC and WB will be rolling out their panel, where big announcements – like whom Johnson is actually playing – are expected to be made. Stay tuned.
We’ll keep you updated on Shazam and the entire DCU as news comes to light. Be sure to follow our Comic-Con page.