The one constant for New Line’s DC Comics property Shazam! has, surprisingly, not been a director or a screenplay or even the hero, but Dwayne Johnson, the Rock himself, who has been excited to play anti-hero Black Adam, the nominal bad guy of the piece, for years now. And it looks like New Line has decided to just give one of the biggest box office draws in the world his own superhero movie.
Deadline is reporting that New Line is splitting Shazam! into two movies. The one featuring Billy Batson, who turns into the magic version of Superman whenever he says “Shazam!,” is still on the way, but there will also be a solo movie exploring the history and motivations of Black Adam. Black Adam, in the comics, is a bit more complicated than the snickering bad guy: He’s portrayed as more of an anti-hero, somebody who sees the world in shades of black and white and struggles to grasp moral greys, and is driven by the death of his family to protect his native nation of Khandaq. In other words, he’s Batman with Superman’s powers and a bit more moral complexity.
It’s worth noting New Line makes a lot of money by being in business with Johnson. Central Intelligence, his buddy-action movie with Kevin Hart, was a rare financial and creative bright spot in a tough summer for Hollywood, and Johnson’s next movie, an adaptation of the giant monster video game Rampage, is on the way for next year. Supposedly Shazam! is arriving in 2019, but we won’t be surprised if he takes a backseat to his own villain.