Ever since Dwayne Johnson’s movie version of DC Comics’ Black Adam was announced, fans have been speculating about how the character (a classic supervillain now reinvented as Johnson’s antihero) would fit into the larger DCU in the long run. This week Johnson stunned everyone with the news that Black Adam wouldn’t just meet other DC superheroes: He’d go right to the top. During an interview for Black Adam, which is due out October 21, when a CinemaBlend reporter asked Johnson if his character would ever fight Superman on screen, Johnson responded with a surprisingly frank statement: “Absolutely. That is the whole point of this, man.”
Johnson suggested that comics aficionados have been wanting this very showdown for years, and that the next phase of the DCU is about “listening to the fans. And doing our best to give the fans what they want. And maybe, sometime down the road—and I went through this in pro wrestling— is you can’t always give them what you want. But you’ll always know that we’re listening. And in this case, with what you and I are talking about, I have been listening and I’ve been wanting to address fans for years.”
According to Comic Book Resources, Black Adam and Superman have fought in comics several times, pitting the benevolent alien Kal-El against the centuries-old Egyptian warrior named Teth-Adam. In the film world, Johnson’s statement resurfaces other larger questions, since there remains some ambiguity about whether Henry Cavill will return as the Man of Steel. In early 2021, Warner Bros. announced plans for Ta-Nehisi Coates to write a new Superman screenplay that would likely feature the first Black actor taking the role, with a Black director, per The Hollywood Reporter. But there’s been minimal movement since that announcement, and Johnson’s comments have established a ticking clock for the studio to either reboot the role or bring Cavill back into the fold. (The Black Adam character is also closely connected to Shazam, and while the two may well fight either side-by-side or against each other in the future, it’s unlikely to happen in this year’s film.)
In a Hollywood Reporter profile from July 2021, Johnson said Black Adam was one of his most difficult roles, and expanded on what sets the character apart from his powerful peers. “By a code of ethics in the world of superheroes, they don’t kill the bad guys, but Black Adam does. There were a lot of elements like that that made me feel this is a real opportunity here,” he said. “I felt like everything that I had done in the past in terms of my career, all the movies that I had done over the decades, even the ones that didn’t do well, all led to this particular role.” Johnson also explained that Adam has similar powers to Superman, and part of the point of the character is to show how having otherworldly gifts and abilities can corrupt somebody.
Per the THR story, Johnson has been interested in playing Black Adam since 2008, and at one point was being considered for the lead role in Shazam!, which he did not star in but did executive produce. A film depicting Black Adam fighting Superman probably wouldn’t even begin production for several years, but whatever the final product looks like, it would almost certainly be better than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.