Dwayne Johnson says axed ‘Black Adam 2’ got caught in DC ‘vortex’

Dwayne Johnson says axed Black Adam 2 got caught in ‘vortex’ of leadership: ‘One of the biggest mysteries’

“It’s like new ownership coming in, buying a new NFL team, and going, ‘Alright, not my head coach, not my quarterback.'”

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is opening up about why he thinks Warner Bros. and DC Studios ultimately decided not to move forward with Black Adam 2.  

The actor, who spent 15 years fighting to make the original superhero film, says a second installment was axed due to a “vortex of new leadership.”

“As we were creating Black Adam, developing it, shooting [it] — we got knocked down a little bit because of COVID and the shutdowns, got back up — there were so many changes in leadership,” Johnson told Kevin Hart on a recent episode of Hart to Hart. “Any time you have a company, but especially that size and magnitude that’s a publicly traded company, and you have all those changes in leadership, you have people coming in who creatively, fiscally, are gonna make decisions that you may not agree with philosophically.”

He went on to explain that Black Adam became “one of those movies that got caught in that web of new leadership” as a result of company shakeups, which led Warner Bros. to completely shelve its Batgirl movie and DC Studios to hire James Gunn and Peter Safran as its new co-chairs in 2022.

However, Johnson told Hart that he wasn’t the only one perplexed by the choice to press pause on Black Adam. “That will always be one of the biggest mysteries, I think, not only for me and us on our end, but also throughout our business,” he said. “Because that’s a Kevin question, but that was a question out of Wall Street. That was a question out of Hollywood.” 

Johnson also listed several of Black Adam‘s achievements, including its impressive performance at the box office. “You’re establishing a new superhero. You want to grow out the franchise. You bring back Superman and Henry Cavill. The world went crazy,” he said, referring to the film’s end-credits scene, which featured Cavill’s return as Clark Kent. “And you and I — you were texting me this on opening weekend — we created a diverse superhero portfolio where we had just men and women of color in Black Adam, too.”

While Johnson acknowledged that it was important to “look at and respect the bottom line economically,” he said things become more difficult when numbers are prioritized over audience excitement.

Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam

Dwayne Johnson in ‘Black Adam’

| Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

“When you think about opportunity and creating things that are fresh and delivering for the audience, which is our number-one boss — when that wasn’t looked at through that lens, it makes things a little bit more challenging, I think,” he said, especially “for guys like you and I, where you go, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?'” 

The former football player and professional wrestler equated the move to a change in leadership in sports. “It’s like new ownership coming in, buying a new NFL team, and going, ‘Alright, not my head coach, not my quarterback. Doesn’t matter how many times you won a Super Bowl. Doesn’t matter how many rings we got. I’m going with somebody else.'”

Johnson announced last December that he had met with Gunn and that Black Adam would “not be in their first chapter of storytelling” but that “DC and Seven Bucks have agreed to continue exploring the most valuable ways Black Adam can be utilized in future DC multiverse chapters.”

“These decisions made by James and DC leadership represent their vision of DCU through their creative lens,” he said in part. “After 15 years of relentless hard work to finally make Black Adam, I’m very proud of the film we delivered for fans worldwide. I will always look back on the fan reaction to Black Adam with tremendous gratitude, humility, and love.”

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