The Rock and the Man in Black: Dwayne Johnson’s “Black Adam” a 15-year labor of love

Fifteen years ago, a former wrestler turned actor named Dwayne Johnson was approached by New Line Cinema and given an option: play the heroic DC superhero Shazam in a live-action motion picture or play the hero’s archenemy, the powerful Black Adam, a character he felt drawn to as well.

Even with the original film being placed on hold in 2009, Johnson’s commitment to the project did not seem to waver. While he would then grow into the profitable actor we know and see today as the years went on, fans were still wondering if they would ever get to see The Rock finally suit up as the character.

In 2014, after six years of talk and rumor, Johnson finally announced to the world he would be portraying Black Adam in the newly announced DC Cinematic Universe that began with the successful release of 2013’s “Man of Steel.”

Neither Johnson nor fans, though, could anticipate the eight years of waiting and delays the film would go through. Well, their wait is finally over.

After 15 years of rumor, casting developments, delays, and confirmations, “Black Adam” finally entered the DC Extended Universe and our movie theaters last month. And no one is more excited about it than Dwayne Johnson.

Like the character himself, however, Johnson’s portrayal of the antihero had to wait many years before he could be unleashed.

As more news of the film broke out, such as the confirmation that Johnson would star as the character in a standalone film over the years, it seemed fans of the titular antihero would finally get a chance to see the long-awaited film even with Johnson’s extremely busy schedule on other projects.

After Jaume Collet-Serra was announced to helm the film in the summer of 2019, filming was finally ready to begin the following year. However, it seemed that “Black Adam” would still have to wait just a little longer.

With the COVID-19 pandemic rolling in and taking the world by storm, the film was among the many to have their filming and release dates impacted. However, Warner Bros. and Johnson continued to promise fans their wait would be worthwhile.

Casting announcements and updates finally culminated in April of 2021 when principal filming finally began and lasted until August 15 of that year. But despite the completion of the film, delays continued to bug the official release.

The impact of the pandemic caused the film to continue being pushed back, another bump in the road for the eager DC fanbase. All bumps can be removed, however, and on October 12, Black Adam finally held its New York premiere for ecstatic fans waiting to see the movie.

“I have been saying that Black Adam is the biggest and most important movie of my career…,” Johnson said at the premiere.

A longtime fan of DC comics since childhood, Johnson further went on to explain the importance of playing a character like Black Adam not simply because he is portrayed as an antihero, but for the representation he provides.

“When I saw my first Black Adam comic when I was a little boy, he was intense, he looked badass, he had brown skin, and I thought that is who I want to be,” he said.

Before departing, Johnson also provided a personal story of the moment he first walked on set as the character and how it felt to be there after the 15 years of waiting.

“Lot of years, 15 years, I have pushed and fought to get this movie made and here we are … I was pretty moved just to be on set and wear the Black Adam costume. Then I look up and I see all the JSA standing in front of me, full costume, that’s when I knew. Dreams come true,” he said.

Of course, Johnson wasn’t the only one to celebrate the release of the film. One of the film’s producers, Dani Garcia, further reflected on the almost two-decade journey they went on to make this film.

“This has been for me … a decade and a half project that we have been working on Black Adam… so this is a very emotional family experience for us. It’s fantastic,” she said.

Hiram Garcia, brother of fellow producer Dani Garcia, added praise to Johnson and his overall commitment to the role, saying that if he were to ever do a movie, it would be a movie and character that would fit the larger-than-life personality of Johnson himself.

“I’ve never seen him work as hard for a role, and he’s really playing a character that we have never seen him play before.”

The role of Black Adam, that of an antihero who though he does possess a moral code does not abide by the law and has no issue with murder and violence to exact said justice, seems to be a huge change in Johnson’s career as an actor, having become known to normally play a quippy and muscular protagonist in some of his latest films but this is a change he is fully embracing.

Since the film’s official release, “Black Adam” has received mixed reviews from critics but has also gained praise from audience reviews and has so far grossed more than $300 million worldwide. Its debut weekend gross of $67 million also became Johnson’s highest grossing opening of his entire career.

Prior to the film’s screening, Johnson took the stage along with the film’s director and producers to call the movie a reflection of what chasing something one is passionate about means and results in.

“…If you believe in something and you are passionate about something like we have all been passionate about something, keep going. Keep pushing,” he said.

Finally, Johnson commented on the overall goal of the movie. That anyone in the audience can see a reflection of themselves in the characters of the film, no matter who they are.

“Our goal was to make sure that we deliver characters that everyone. around the world regardless of what color they are, what age, what they identify as, what their bank account is. It doesn’t matter, we don’t care as long as they identify with someone up here, we’ve done our job,” he said.

Luca Fornoni is a senior at FIU and is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Digital Journalism. He mainly enjoys spending time with his family and friends as much as possible as well as watching and discussing movies.