The majority of the DC Extended Universe films that are currently in some stage of development revolve around either one or multiple members of the Justice League (see: Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman and so on). However, there are a growing number of exceptions to that DCEU trend; that includes such projects as Suicide Squad director David Ayer’s Gotham City Sirens (led by DC antiheroes Harley Quinn, Catwoman and Poison Ivy) and Doug Liman’s Justice League Dark movie, Dark Universe (featuring the likes of supernatural heroes such as Constantine, Swamp Thing and Zatanna). We can also now add Black Adam to that list too.
Black Adam is being played by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and was originally going to go head-to-head with his frequent nemesis, Shazam, in the latter’s upcoming DCEU solo movie. Following a meeting between Johnson and DC head executives such as DC Entertainment President and DCEU overseer, Geoff Johns, the news broke that The Rock’s Black Adam is now getting his own solo film ahead of Shazam. However, that doesn’t mean that development on the latter DC Comics adaptation has now stopped or been put on hold.
THR‘s report on the Black Adam solo movie news included a tidbit about how, “according to one source,” the Shazam film is currently being written by Henry Gayden. We now have confirmation that Gayden – who make his big break as a screenwriter with the 2014 found-footage, family-friendly, sci-fi adventure Earth to Echo – is in fact writing Shazam. The screenwriter himself confirmed the news on Twitter when asked by a fan, further teasing that he’s “loving what’s to come” on the Shazam front in the DCEU.
Shazam, for those unfamiliar, is a character with several decades of DC comic book history behind him and was once even known as Captain Marvel, no less. The superhero is the alter ego of Billy Batson, a young boy who can transform himself into Shazam – a being with Superman-esque super strength and flying abilities (among others) – by speaking the magic word itself, “Shazam!” It’s only fitting, then, that a screenwriter with experience writing child characters (and fairly believable ones at that) who find themselves in fantastical situations such as Gayden, would be recruited to work on a Shazam movie by DC and Warner Bros. Entertainment.
The expectation has long been that Shazam will be comparatively lighter and more kid-friendly compared to the first three installments in the DCEU (ie. Man of Steel, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad). Case in point: Shrek Forever After and Goosebumps screenwriter Darren Lemke was reported to be the writer overseeing the Shazam solo film a couple years back, around the time that Johnson first announced that he would be playing Black Adam. More recently, Lemke has been working on the Goosebumps sequel due in theaters next year, so presumably Gayden was brought onboard for Shazam not too long after Lemke stepped away.
Gayden, as it were, reads as being a screenwriter who can also deliver the right tone for a Shazam movie; giving it enough of a darker edge (a la his work on Earth to Echo) so that it feels at home in the DCEU. As for the Black Adam movie: that project apparently has neither a screenwriter nor director formally attached at this point, but reads as being a worthy addition to the DCEU slate in its own right. You can expect more updates on both the Shazam and Black Adam movies in the foreseeable future, now that their development is picking up momentum.