If you're a lifelong DC nerd like me, then these comments from Dwayne Johnson are heaven-on-earth...
One of the recurring critiques coming from folks put off by the first three films in the DC Extended Universe is that they've worked too hard to- as producer Deborah Snyder put it- "deconstruct" their heroes. They've tried to be subversive, morally complex, and generally "dark." Inspired by the success Christopher Nolan found when he rebooted the Batman franchise and turned it into a high-minded, grown-up allegory for the tricky times we all live in post-9/11, Zack Snyder was hired to steer the entire DC ship in a similar direction.
There were a few problems with that, though.
For starters, Snyder is no Nolan. Period. And the bigger problem was: Not every DC character is Batman.
So when his Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice gave us an angst-ridden Superman, a darkly muddled world of moral grey areas, and a general narrative that was devoid of any real joy or a sense of awe, fans and critics alike started decrying the direction the series had started off on. Remember, these characters rose to prominence in comic books aimed at children; In Saturday morning cartoons meant to delight imaginations around the world; And as an exciting escape from everyday life where we get to see incredible heroes triumph over evil.
Then those films were followed up by a film about a bunch of criminals and killers that ended up being more fun, playful, and optimistic than the two films that had preceded it and were about actual heroes! I'm speaking, of course, about David Ayer's Suicide Squad.
Ever since, we've heard rumblings of major ground-up changes over at Warner Bros. when it comes to where they want to want go with the DCEU. They ditched Snyder as the captain of the ship, and brought in DC Comics guru Geoff Johns to try and redirect the franchise's course. They're in a tricky spot, at present, since both Wonder Woman and Justice League technically came out of the "old regime" and will be the two DC films we see this year, but there's reason to be optimistic about the future.
Yesterday, we heard from one of the producers of the upcoming blockbuster Shazam, who promised vague "big things" from the film after a meeting with the DC brain trust. Today, we get to talk about comments made by another person who attended that meeting: Dwayne Johnson.
And that's where things get interesting.
In a statement he released via Instagram, Johnson confirms what we've been reporting on for several months: That WB/DC is overhauling the DCEU and shifting the tone of its future films!
Here's what Johnson, who's playing Black Adam in Shazam, posted:
Had a very cool and strategic meeting with the heads of DC about their entire universe. As a hard core DC fan, to get a real sense of the tonal shifts and developments coming in these future movies has me fired up. Something we, as DC fans have all been waiting for for a very long time. Hope, optimism & FUN. Even when talking about the the most ruthless villain/anti-hero of all time finally coming to life. Prepare yourselves DC Universe. #KneelAtHisFeet #OrGetCrushedByHisBoot #BlackAdam⚡️
For those of you who can't see that, here's the text of Johnson's statement:
Had a very cool and strategic meeting with the heads of DC about their entire universe. As a hard core DC fan, to get a real sense of the tonal shifts and developments coming in these future movies has me fired up. Something we, as DC fans have all been waiting for for a very long time.
Hope, optimism & FUN.
Even when talking about the the most ruthless villain/anti-hero of all time finally coming to life. Prepare yourselves DC Universe.
Do you hear those song birds singing? I do!
That statement is huge because, aside from confirming all of the reports about DCEU's upcoming shifts, it even reveals a possible reason why Shazam has seemingly been in a holding pattern for so long. Remember, Johnson has been attached to appear in a WB/DC movie for years now, and was first announced as Black Adam back in 2014. Since then, the film has been in a seemingly permanent state of stasis. We even heard rumors that it may not even directly tie-in to the rest of the DCEU. With this statement, it's now clear why: Johnson was simply not on board with where Snyder was taking things.
And now he is.
And I'm pumped.
This gives me the juice I needed to finally complete the next installment of my DCEU Exploration columns, so keep an eye out for that on Monday. You may be surprised by the new title!