Dwayne Johnson’s arrival to the DC Cinematic Universe is imminent. One of the bigger pieces of news to come out of the virtual DC fan convention DC FanDome was some tantalizing plot details about Johnson’s upcoming Black Adam movie, in which he’ll play the titular comics character who has at various times been portrayed as friend and foe. We knew that Black Adam would bring Johnson into the DC fold as a potential foil to Zachary Levi’s Shazam, but we didn’t know that the Black Adam movie would also be introducing a number of other DC characters – members of the Justice Society of America.
During DC FanDome, Johnson revealed that his Black Adam will be joined in the upcoming movie by characters including Hawkman, Cyclone, Dr. Fate, and Atom Smasher, with Noah Centineo recently cast in the latter role. In the comics, the JSA was introduced before the “Justice League,” and eventually it was explained that the JSA existed on “Earth-Two” while the JLA existed on “Earth-One.”
We don’t have many details as to how the JSA will factor into Black Adam and the DC Universe at large, but that didn’t stop me from asking when I recently spoke with producer Hiram Garcia. The President of Production at Seven Bucks Productions is launching a book of his photography called The Rock: Through the Lens: His Life, His Movies, His World through St. Martin’s Press on September 8th. It’s a gorgeous and insightful look into Johnson’s life courtesy of Garcia’s beautifully intimate photography, and I had the pleasure of speaking with Garcia about his work (and some of Seven Bucks’ upcoming films) for an extended exclusive interview.
That full interview with Garcia will be running on Collider soon, but first we wanted to share what he had to say about Black Adam in the wake of the movie’s DC FanDome presentation. I asked Garcia what he could say about introducing the JSA now that we know they’re in Black Adam, and he teased some classic storylines that may appear in the movie:
“We are so excited to introduce the Justice Society, especially Hawkman who’s such a beloved character and one of those heroes who’s always meant so much to the DC universe. Having them play in the same sandbox as Black Adam is going to be fantastic, and for the already established fans of these characters I think they are going to be really excited to see what elements from classic story lines we take inspiration from as we bring these characters together. When you take a powerhouse like Black Adam and inject him into this DC cinematic universe you want to make sure you are putting characters around him that can really up the stakes. As DJ likes to say the hierarchy of power in the DC universe really is going to change so Hawkman, Dr. Fate, Atom Smasher and Cyclone will have their hands full no matter how we choose to have them interact with Black Adam.”
Garcia said they’ve been working closely with director Jaume Collett-Serra – with whom they worked on the upcoming Jungle Cruise movie – to craft set pieces that will showcase Black Adam’s most powerful abilities:
“We’re thrilled with how the [DC FanDome] announcement went and the incredible fan reaction from it. Our director Jaume Collett-Serra has always had a great vision for what we all want to achieve and I think audiences are going to go crazy when they see the story and sequences we’ve been creating that showcase this world and more importantly what Black Adam is truly capable of. It’s fun to truly showcase all of his abilities and watch someone with this much power who, unlike other powerful DC characters, doesn’t believe in pulling their punches. Then on top of that you add in the complexity of his character and the things he’s carrying with him, what he’s been through, what he’s come from and where he’s going to go.. and it makes for a for a very unique and intense cinematic ride.”
Given the frequent refrain that Black Adam will “upend the power structure in the DC Universe,” I wondered how connected this movie might be to other DC films. While movies like Aquaman and Wonder Woman 1984 share characters and seemingly a world with one another and other films, movies like Joker and The Batman appear to exist in their one universes. Will Black Adam fall into the former category or the latter?
Garcia said the specifics of the “DC Universe” are still being worked out, but it does sound like we can expect some form of connectivity in Black Adam:
“There’s been multiple ongoing conversations on how everything will roll out and it’s very exciting for myself as a filmmaker but even more so as a fan. Unfortunately, I can’t speak to that too much because it is still in the works, but I can say that on our end we’re very focused on building out this world we’re creating with Black Adam and the JSA. Obviously Shazam exists in that universe along with many many other heroes and believe me when I say we have very big ambitions for all these characters and the story lines we want to take them through.”
Filming for Black Adam was originally supposed to begin this summer after Johnson wrapped his Netflix movie Red Notice, but production on that film was halted in March due to COVID-19. Garcia says they’re about to go back to Atlanta to finish up Red Notice, and are hoping to start shooting Black Adam sometime in the first quarter of 2021:
“COVID threw a curveball in a big way and readjusted everyone’s schedule, but I think the easiest way to look at it is it simply pushed the entire industry’s schedule a few months… We’re planning to pick back up with Black Adam some time first quarter next year and hoping to lock that all down soon.”
Garcia cautioned that safety is their priority, and they’ve put together a new workflow to ensure production on their films can continue while keeping everyone’s health in mind:
“We’re excited to proceed as planned with all our projects but our main priority has been making sure we can create safe environments for out cast and crew which we’ve been able to do. We’re fortunate to work on big productions and ourselves along with the entire industry have worked to devise new protocols and systems that allow us to proceed in safe ways keeping the talent, crew and entire production safe. We’ve gotten to a place where it feels like we’ve established some amazing guidelines that allow us to get back to work and so now it’s about rolling that out and applying that formula to all our productions across the board. Obviously as you apply that formula to productions the projects take on new forms due to added costs, new approaches and the required reimagining of some sequences that now have unique protocols and requirements placed upon them.
That said though I’m just thrilled we got everything back on track and first up for us will be to close out our year finishing up our fun action movie Red Notice for Netflix and beginning production on our NBC series Young Rock. Then our priority coming out of the new year will be getting Black Adam up and running and bringing Kahndaq to life!”
So if all goes according to plan, Dwayne Johnson’s DC universe debut will be rolling cameras sometime in the first quarter of next year. At long last.
Look for much, much more from my full interview with Garcia on Collider soon. His book The Rock: Through the Lens: His Life, His Movies, His World will be released on September 8th.