DC Comics’ “SHAZAM! FURY OF THE GODS” was released last weekend on March 17 to mixed leaning on negative reviews from both critics and fans of the source material. “SHAZAM” star Zachary Levi confirmed in an Instagram story post that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson vetoed a post-credits scene that would’ve included Levi’s character in his DC film, “Black Adam.” The revelation was met with mixed reactions, with some viewers maintaining that Johnson still has creative license to make such decisions about his own character and others believing it to be a selfish choice that interfered with the overall DC universe.
DC has endured numerous shakeups in recent months, notoriously dropping actor Henry Cavill as Superman. The comic giant additionally filmed “Batgirl” in 2022, which starred Leslie Grace in the titular role alongside Brendan Fraser, J.K. Simmons, Michael Keaton, and others, only to announce that it will not be released.The current “SHAZAM” and “Black Adam” debate is the latest controversy to come out of their recent projects, and is sparking conversation about just how accurate comic to film adaptations need to be.
Zachary Levi seemingly reveals that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson did not allow characters from ‘Black Adam’ to appear in ‘Shazam 2’ post credits, and he also didn’t allow Shazam to appear in ‘Black Adam’ post credits. pic.twitter.com/RvQP5du8Ur
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) March 21, 2023
Some fans of DC Comics feel that Johnson needed to step into becoming the anti-hero that his character initially appears as in the comics. Some feel that his creative decision to maintain Black Adam’s hero status did the overall DC universe a disservice in its storytelling. One Twitter user drew a comparison to actor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s famous role in “The Terminator” franchise, which also uncharacteristically had the actor playing a villain for the first time.
Schwarzenegger was initially hesitant about taking the Terminator role because he would be playing a villain, but chose to be open minded and it became his most iconic roles, whereas The Rock’s ego refused to let Black Adam be a bad guy and it ended up sinking two franchises pic.twitter.com/0nbcTvNy5U
— James Reinhardt (@JamesReinhardt) March 19, 2023
Other film buffs in the comments alleged that Schwarzenegger actually fought to play the villain, and was not initially cast in the titular role of the Terminator. Oscar nominated screenwriter Josh Olson (@joshuarolson) attested to this claim.
The most widespread theory about Johnson’s decision to disaffiliate from “SHAZAM” is that he was hoping for an on-screen fight with Henry Cavill’s superman prior to Warner Bros and DC’s cancellation of the rest of his films.
the rock wanted this so bad pic.twitter.com/dWSENKvAqT
— ً (@HailEternal) March 21, 2023
Those who feel that Johnson bears responsibility for the film’s deviation from the original comics are comparing his alleged desire to fight Superman to his long pro-wrestling career before he made it to Hollywood.
The Rock thinking himself too big to play what Black Adam actually is, a Shazam villain, and trying to politic his way into facing Superman instead is an astounding act of bringing pro wrestling to Hollywood. https://t.co/zXSZpRp1Xr
— Garrett Kidney (@garrettkidney) March 21, 2023
Others theorize that the supposed creative disagreement between Johnson and Levi is a marketing ploy from Warner Bros, as similar controversies have arisen whenever a DC film does not achieve high commercial success.
I have no doubt there’s truth to this but it’s so funny how the last like five years of DC is just them putting out smear campaigns against the talent when their movie underperforms. Sounds like a good thing they’ve got going on over there
— Brandon Streussnig (@BrndnStrssng) March 21, 2023
Others feel that the lack of commercial and critical success was born from marketing failures instead of Johnson’s creative decision, and that to place blame on one individual was unreasonable. Some feel that the addition of the post-credits scene couldn’t have saved the film.
wb trying to blame shazam bombing on the rock when the marketing was shit and march is stacked at the box office, is absurd.
he’s already moved on from black adam. don’t drag him back into this mess. https://t.co/d1zRFHulEs
— Matt Ramos (@therealsupes) March 21, 2023
Claiming a cameo veto by The Rock is responsible for Shazam’s underperformance is classic scapegoating.
Poor marketing, no franchise clarity, competitive release cycle & no star power ultimately hurt the film. A post-credit scene wouldn’t make a difference at BO (i.e Black Adam)
— Sheraz Farooqi (@SherazFarooqi_) March 21, 2023
Many feel that blame really ought to be placed on director and screenwriter James Gunn, for failing to connect his several DC universe projects in a way that reflected both the source material and the current adaptation changes.
My reaction to the “let’s blame the BLACK man for why these WHITE led and WHITE created Shazam movies ultimately didn’t work” narrative.
OWN YOUR OWN FAILURE instead of using the media to throw The Rock under the bus.
— John Rocha aka The Outlaw Nation (@TheRochaSays) March 21, 2023
Regardless of what viewers are thinking, it seems like Levi and Johnson are both becoming anti-heros in their own right. The controversy is continuing an ongoing representation about representation in superhero films, and whether viewers enjoyed their films or not, the controversy just might save the day for DC in the end.