Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but there seems to be more drama in the land of the DC film universe. This stems from an exclusive report from The Wrap that lays a lot of the studios' recent superhero troubles at the feet of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Shazam! star Zachary Levi would then go on his Instagram account to confirm what sources told the publication was true. Keep in mind that Shazam! Fury of The Gods was just released this weekend. The whole back-and-forth has cannibalized any (and I use this term loosely) marketing the film could have. Now, the negativity is the driver for the project, and I don’t think that’s a good thing.
To blame one person for the perceived failure of Fury of The Gods at the box office wouldn't be the right call. There are many reasons why the Shazam sequel didn’t catch fire as the 2019 film did. The DC universe is getting a reboot with James Gunn and Peter Saffron at the helm. Will any of these 2023 projects (outside of The Flash) be of any consequence to the future? Probably not - so why would audiences have any stake in it? The Flash got a Super Bowl trailer spot, but the film coming out a month later didn’t.
Also, there hasn’t been a robust marketing push behind the film. In a TV advertisement, DC accidentally leaked Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman cameo a week ago. I was thinking about Black Adam and overly winking about Henry Cavill’s brief appearance – that didn’t work either.
If the reports are accurate, and Johnson vetoed much of the interconnectivity between Shazam and Black Adam, that’s a little silly. The two characters are direct opponents of each other – more so than Superman. There was even a reference to Black Adam’s character within the first Shazam film, which goes unaddressed. It’s not like you couldn’t find a way to make the tones fit together where all these stories make sense. However, there was a lack of a unifying voice in the room saying, “no, this is the way things are going to go. This is what better serves the story and characters within it.”
Now, you have such a disconnect where everybody involved loses. Stars are left alone to explain why a project didn’t work out. The salacious stories become the reason for interest which is upsetting alone. Talented directors say they can’t wait to abandon ship and return to doing other things. If you’re rebooting a universe to right the ship, how does this appeal to creatives you want to work it? Most of all, the things that lose the most are the fans and the tremendous stories that could be told.
In a company with the likes of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman – we’re primarily concerned with discussing power plays and back-biting as if this is a super-powered edition of Succession. With the winds heading to audiences supposedly cooling off on projects of this ilk together, DC needs to end the blame game and show they’ve really committed to change.