Dwayne Johnson’s Alleged Ego Tanked ‘Black Adam’ and ‘Shazam’: Report

REUTERS/Mike Segar
REUTERS/Mike Segar

Suddenly, Dwayne Johnson’s defensive Black Adam box office comments are starting to make sense. In a report published Tuesday, TheWrap quotes two “high-level Hollywood insiders” who allege that Johnson’s ego-driven antics “systematically crippled two franchises”—Shazam and his own DC Universe debut, Black Adam.

As TheWrap notes, there are plenty of issues within DC’s film division (which includes both the Black Adam and Shazam franchises) that have nothing to do with the man we sometimes call The Rock. At the same time, it wouldn’t help that, as two sources told The Wrap, Johnson worked to distance his character, Black Adam, from his main canonical link to the universe (Zachary Levi’s Shazam) and chose instead to pitch a face-off between himself and Henry Cavill’s Superman.

Johnson also allegedly axed a Shazam-themed post-credits scene at the end of Black Adam.

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As TheWrap notes, this isn’t the first time Johnson has appeared to clash with franchise colleagues. In 2016, during the lead-up to the Fast franchise’s eighth installment, Fate of the Furious, Johnson (who first joined in Fast Five) fired off an infamous Instagram post about certain “chicken sh-t” co-stars, whom he called “[c]andy asses.” It was a long, middle school-esque saga from there, but it quickly became clear that Johnson was referring to Vin Diesel. In the end, Johnson and Jason Statham exited the main franchise for a spinoff, Hobbs & Shaw.

“Dwayne tries to sell himself as bigger than the movie,” a purported high-ranking Hollywood executive told TheWrap. “He’s one of the few people who always thinks he’s the most important person in any situation or room. … Instead of making a movie, he wants to extend his brand and make a brand centered on himself.”

A representative for Johnson did not respond to TheWrap’s request for comment; representatives for Warner Bros. and New Line cinema declined to comment.

Johnson has spoken openly about his effort to distance Black Adam from Shazam. Speaking with Vanity Fair last August, he recalled that initially, the plan had been for the characters to share an origin story in one film.

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“But when I read that, I just knew in my gut, ‘We can’t make this movie like this. We would be doing Black Adam an incredible disservice.’ It would’ve been fine for Shazam having two origin stories converge in one movie, but not good for Black Adam.”

“I made a phone call,” Johnson continued. “ … I said, ‘I really think that you should make Shazam!, make that movie on its own in the tone that you want. And I think we should separate this as well.’”

Last fall, TheWrap noted that the power shakeup at DC—as James Gunn stepped up as co-chair and CEO of DC Studios—could present an issue for at least one star. As one Warner source put it, “Johnson’s thinly veiled disdain for Shazam means he probably isn’t loving the idea that his boss is now the guy that produces Shazam.” Still, when Johnson announced his exit from DC last December after speaking with Gunn, he kept things cordial.

“James and I have known each other for years and have always rooted for each other to succeed,” Johnson wrote in a statement at the time. “It’s no different now, and I will always root for DC (and Marvel) to win and WIN BIG.”

Somewhere in a corner, Shazam might just be scoffing right now.

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