zachary levi (l) dwayne johnson (r)

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Zachary Levi endorses report alleging that Dwayne Johnson’s ‘ego’ sabotaged ‘Black Adam’ and ‘Shazam 2’

Dwayne Johnson reportedly vetoed a Shazam cameo in 'Black Adam,' intentionally separating the two franchises.


Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Internet Culture

Posted on Mar 22, 2023

The conversation around Shazam! Fury of the Gods’ release is getting messier by the day.

After earning mediocre reviews and disappointing box office results, director David F. Sandberg has said he’s moving away from superhero movies and their fandom discourse. Meanwhile, the film’s lead actor Zachary Levi is embroiled in that very same discourse—and he just endorsed a report that partially blames Shazam 2′s failure on Dwayne Johnson’s “ego.”

Published in The Wrap, this article paints a negative picture of Johnson’s quest to turn the supervillain Black Adam into a DC Universe megastar, with an anonymous insider saying he “systematically crippled two franchises”: Shazam and Black Adam.

Black Adam is a Shazam villain in the comics, but Johnson wanted to distance himself from the kid-friendly Shazam films and headline his own franchise as a standalone antihero. He touted Black Adam as a game-changer for the next phase of the DC franchise, repeatedly teasing the possibility of facing off against Henry Cavill’s Superman. Warner Bros. gambled on Johnson’s star power making it work, but Black Adam became a box office flop. And the Shazam franchise may have suffered by association.

According to The Wrap, Johnson was so keen to separate Black Adam from Shazam that he blocked Zachary Levi from filming a post-credits cameo for the Black Adam movie last year. Yesterday, Levi shared a quote from this report on Instagram, posted with the caption “the truth shall set you free.”

Dwayne Johnson is no stranger to Hollywood feuds, but his movies tend to be hits. Black Adam‘s failure is an awkward blip in his public image, and this controversy around the Shazam franchise is doing nobody any favors.

Zachary Levi is openly frustrated with multiple issues surrounding Shazam 2‘s release, including the film’s marketing, toxic behavior within DC movie fandom, and this controversy around Black Adam. But while a Johnson/Levi conflict makes for juicy gossip, is it really realistic to blame Shazam 2‘s problems on Black Adam?

It sounds like Johnson may have disrupted Shazam’s potential as a crossover character within the DCU, but this didn’t necessarily have much impact on Fury of the Gods‘ box office receipts. This movie had significantly worse reviews than its predecessor, and mainstream viewers are more likely to care about things like trailers and Rotten Tomatoes scores than the inner workings of Shazam’s relationship to Black Adam.

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*First Published: Mar 22, 2023, 9:17 am CDT