First ‘Black Adam’ Trailer Brings The Rock’s Star Power To DC Films

Behold the first teaser trailer for Black Adam. The DC Films flick, due October 21, is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (Orphan, Jungle Cruise, most of Liam Neeson’s best post-Taken actioners) and features Dwayne Johnson (in a pet project he’s been nursing/developing since well before DC Films was a thing) as the title anti-hero alongside Noah Centineo (Atom Smasher), Aldis Hodge (Hawkman), Quintessa Swindell (Cyclone) and Pierce Brosnan (Doctor Fate). You’re not just getting a Black Adam origin story; you’re getting a backdoor pilot for the Justice Society of America. Oh, and you’re also getting a Dwayne Johnson star vehicle that happens to be a DC Films flick.

While Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson is one of the names that gets tossed about when discussing the last real-deal movie stars in Hollywood, he tends to do best when encased in a franchise. That’s normal for Hollywood in 2022, but it is unquestionable that Dwayne Johnson is a brand and that “Dwayne Johnson movies” are at least partially a franchise unto themselves, with some clear hits (San Andreas) and some obvious whiffs (Skyscraper) just like any major star from the so-called “olden days.” The twist throughout the last decade is that he often picks projects where he is a slightly bigger deal than the actual IP.

“Dwayne Johnson in a Rampage movie” or “Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart in an updated version of Jumanji” is often seen by audiences as “a high concept Rock star vehicle that happens to be based around that thing I know” versus an IP > star sell. Those are the two best-case-scenario versions of this. New Line’s Rampage ($430 million on a $120 million budget) is the best video game movie ever made. Sony’s Jumanji sequels ($962 million and $800 million on a combined $210 million budget) are textbook cases on how to revamp an expired IP and turn a B-level hit into an A-level franchise. Baywatch less so.

That’s what makes Black Adam, at least on the surface, different than the rest of the DC flicks. With the rest of these films, Man of Steel, Aquaman, Shazam and Wonder Woman among others, the marquee character is the biggest star. Few had heard of Henry Cavill before Man of Steel or Gal Gadot before Wonder Woman, just as (to use obvious Marvel examples) few folks had heard of Tom Holland before Spider-Man: Homecoming or Chris Hemsworth before Thor. Ben Affleck as Batman in Batman v Superman (a commercially shrewd play no matter the long-term outcome) was probably 50/50 on par with Angelina Jolie “as” Maleficent.

Just as Ant-Man boasted a comic movie star in Paul Rudd who was arguably more famous than Scott Lang, so too does Black Adam have an action hero movie star who is more famous than the superhero. That hook, that it’s a Dwayne Johnson actioner *and* a DC superhero movie, should give it a boost compared to (top-tier quality notwithstanding) Shazam! If, being a New Line flick, it cost closer to Shazam ($90 million) than The Batman ($180 million), all the better, but that’s speculation. I just hope it’s better than Jungle Cruise. If not, I think I have a pitch for a fourth Liam Neeson Taken film.

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