After years of speculation that Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson would be starring in a DC Comics adaptation, it seems that the actor has been given the go-ahead to tease his role as Shazam, with Warner Bros. likely set to make it official at San Diego Comic-Con 2014. The all-but-confirmation comes in a new interview with the actor, with him expressing that he will be playing a DC superhero - and that fans need only "say the word..."
The tease provided in an interview with TotalFilm offers the least ambiguous details yet, with Johnson having confirmed that he would be playing a role for DC in the past. No information was given at the time - with the likes of Doomsday, Lobo, or even Shazam's arch-nemesis 'Black Adam' all suggested by fans - and the actor has continued to turn in blockbuster appearances. When a recently leaked DC movie schedule revealed Shazam to be the next film to hit theaters after Batman V Superman, some kind of announcement was expected before long.
Now that has arrived, with Johnson no longer feeling the need to keep quite so tight-lipped, offering a few hints that any comic book fan can decipher:
"I will say this. There's a character out there that we're going to announce very soon that I'm going to play, and I'll just say this...this character has the power of Superman, he can throw down. Just say the word. That's all I'm going to say."
For those who may not be familiar with the "Shazam" comic series (or "Captain Marvel," as he was formerly known), the story follows Billy Batson - a young boy who finds himself chosen to become a magical 'champion' known as 'Shazam.' All Batson need do is utter the word 'Shazam!' with conviction, and he will be struck by lightning, turning into a musclebound hero with the powers of flight, super-strength, and more.
The change in name was no coincidence, as it was Geoff Johns who handled the character's reboot as part of DC's New 52 relaunch. Now more embedded in magic and sorcery than ever before, Batson was far from a hero when he first received the blessing, relying on his closest friends to save the day from the villainous Black Adam (a former champion).
The persistent rumors of a big screen adaptation of Shazam (seen unlikely by its former director given the release of Man of Steel) were bolstered by Johns' decision to reboot the character himself; a feat first performed on Green Lantern, The Flash, and Aquaman, cementing their rank as DC's biggest heroes. Now it seems the studio has found a way of differentiating Shazam from Superman on screen - and Johnson offers a few more hints at exactly how.
Besides teasing the imminent announcement of his role (possibly teased in Batman V Superman), Johnson also confirmed that in his "years" of discussion with DC, Green Lantern John Stewart was one role he expressed interest in. Instead, the role of Billy Batson's superpowered alter ego (if that is actually the case) was selected to capitalize on the actor's unique skill set.
Johnson's hulking physique - worthy of Hercules - is the most obvious attribute needed to do a hero like Shazam justice. But Johnson points to his "baggage - good baggage" as an actor as another pertinent issue. One could assume that he is referring to his talents in comedy (not all home runs) as well as drama or action, meaning he and DC may have felt that casting him in a 'serious' role would be a waste.
That's speculation on our part, but it's easy to see why Shazam would be a solution. Since Johnson would be playing a young boy suddenly transformed into 'The Rock,' some lighthearted humor would be a must; especially if the hero is meant to be a heavy dose of wish fulfillment for younger audiences, as the comic book always was. That alone, we should mention, would strongly differentiate the hero from the like of Superman (Henry Cavill).
The timing of Johnson's comments is no coincidence, as DC and Warner Bros. are expected to offer several statements (and surprises) at San Diego Comic-Con in the coming week. And while his role may be all but confirmed, his place in the larger movie universe is not. Will Shazam be teased in Batman V Superman (alongside Cyborg and Aquaman?), or will his origin story be a standalone venture until he steps into his new role willingly?
The reboot Johns created in the comics would stand on its own quite well without help from the Justice League, but hopefully some clarification will be coming soon. Questions remain, as the child side of Batson remains un-cast, as does his iconic foe Black Adam. Could Johnson be playing the part of Adam instead? Or will the studio have the hulking star play both parts (not out of the question given the magic behind their powers)?
For now, what do you think of the casting? Is this the role you always hoped Johnson had been selected for? Or did you have your heart set on a villainous turn as Black Adam (a role that's still not out of the question)?
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice opens in theaters on May 6th, 2016.
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce for updates on Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.
Source: Total Film