The DC Universe (DCU) is set to welcome some big changes as the current heads of DC Studios, James Gunn and Peter Safran, continue to work on their 10-year plan. But trouble was already brewing behind the scenes before the pair took over, with a new report shedding light on how the relationship between Black Adam star Dwayne Johnson and Warner Bros. Discovery soured.
As per Variety, the wrestler-turned-actor “ruffled feathers internally” after he, along with Black Adam producers Hiram Garcia and Beau Flynn, “went around everyone” to pitch their vision for the superhero film, Henry Cavill’s Superman, and DC to CEO David Zaslav. Allegedly, part of Johnson’s plans also included a showdown between Black Adam and Superman, with Cavill reprising role.
Here’s the thing, though: former DC Films president Walter Hamada didn’t actually give the green light for Superman’s cameo in the movie. The idea was approved by his replacements, Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy, who Johnson later appealed to during reshoots.
The “secret” meeting wasn’t the only factor that contributed to the worsening ties between WB Discovery and Johnson. Variety’s report chronicles a longer series of events that further fuelled the state of things, including one such instance where the actor demanded to set up a tequila bar featuring his brand, Teremana, for the film’s premiere despite its PG-13 rating.
Ultimately, Black Adam didn’t quite shine at the box office. While the movie started its first week strong, it fizzled with a US$391 million worldwide haul against a combined budget of US$235 million (including reshoots). The mediocre box office performance has prompted Gunn to strike down the prospect of a sequel, with an insider telling Variety, “His [Johnson’s] demands increased and returns just weren’t there.”
Even the Man of Steel wasn’t spared from the superhero exodus under Gunn’s leadership — plans for Cavill’s return to the role were later canned, two months after the actor officially announced that he will don the red cape once more.