Dwayne Jonson appeared on a new episode of Kevin Hart’s “Hart to Hart” talk show on Peacock (recorded prior to the strike, of course) and looked back at the rise and fall of “Black Adam.” His 2022 comic book tentpole was designed to launch a new chapter of storytelling within Warner Bros.’ DC Universe (the film ended with Henry Cavill’s return as Superman, and the franchise intended to build up to a face off between Johnson and Cavill), but DC Studios was overhauled soon after its release, with new leaders James Gunn and Peter Safran taking the reins. Johnson announced in December that “Black Adam 2” was not moving forward for now.
“‘Black Adam’ got caught in a vortex of new leadership,” Johnson said when Hart asked how it felt for franchise to be stopped. “It was so many changes in leadership. Anytime you have a company, a publicly traded company, and you have all those changes in leadership, you have people coming in who, creatively and fiscally, are going to make decisions that you may not agree with.”
Johnson stressed that his “Black Adam” franchise got “caught in the web of new leadership,” but he still doesn’t completely understand why the character got dropped given what he views as the film’s multiple success points.
“That will always be one of the biggest mysteries,” Johnson said. “You have the biggest opening of your career. Sure, no China, which could’ve been maybe 100 or 200 million more dollars. You have a superhero and you want to grow out the franchise. You bring back Superman and Henry Cavill, which the world went crazy. And we created a diverse superhero portfolio, where we have just men and women of color in ‘Black Adam.’”
“Black Adam” opened to a sizable $67 million at the box office, a high point for Johnson’s career and far bigger than the $55 million earned by “The Flash” this year. However, the film’s box office did not leg out, and it failed to cross the $400 million mark at the worldwide box office.
Johnson compared the stopping of “Black Adam” to “new ownership coming in and buying an NFL team and going, ‘Not my coach, not my quarterback.’ It doesn’t matter how many times you won the Super Bowl or how many rings you got, you’re going with somebody else.”
Johnson posted to social media in December to inform fans that he had spoken to new DC bosses Gunn and Safran and that “Black Adam 2″ was off the table for now. He said the character “will not be in their first chapter of storytelling,” but added that DC and his production company, Seven Bucks, “have agreed to continue exploring the most valuable ways Black Adam can be utilized in future DC multiverse chapters.”
“All that I can do, and all that we could do when we were making ‘Black Adam,’ was to put our best foot forward and surround ourselves with the best people and deliver the best movie we could,” Johnson later told Variety. “Our audience score was in the 90s. Critics took a couple shots, but that’s just the business of it.”
“Black Adam” is now streaming on Max.