The Rock Picks Black Adam. Good Choice!
Dwayne Johnson, former wrestler now actor, has been long rumored for a role in a DC Comics movie. In years past, it has been suggested that he would portray Shazam (then called Captain Marvel), his nemesis Black Adam or Green Lantern John Stewart. Johnson, for his part, always made it clear that he wanted to work as these characters, often taking to Twitter or Instagram showing his affection for these characters and a desire to develop them for the silver screen.
Recently, Johnson revealed that he was given a choice by Warner Bros. regarding the Shazam movie in development. He could play the titular character or he could play Black Adam. Johnson said he had some thinking to do, and today he announced he chose Black Adam. This was the right thing to do. Black Adam (also known as Teth-Adam) is Shazam’s reflection in broken glass. He was the son of pharaoh Ramesses II and imbued with the Wizard’s powers due to his bravery and kindness. He protected his people—in the fictional country of Kahndaq—for generations before being seduced and led astray by the evil priestess Blaze which led to the murder of his wife and children.
Black Adam is different from other archenemies like Joker or Lex Luthor. Joker is merely insane, and Lex Luthor believes that having a savior in Superman makes regular humans weak and lazy, Black Adam in turn seeks order and his own strange definitions of justice and redemption (he once killed two million people in Bialya for those specific reasons) and his status as a former good guy make him more complex. While often made to seem as a dictator similar to Gaddafi by giving Black Adam good intentions makes him begrudgingly likable.
Modern incarnations (specifically in the series 52, The Dark Age and JSA) have focused more on Black Adam’s old school militancy and of Draconian sense of justice. He again took control of Kahndaq and made it prosperous. He rescued a victim of human trafficking named Isis, as well as her brother Amon. He imbues them with his powers, making Amon into Osiris. Adam and Isis eventually wed. He asks Captain Marvel to be his best man—they are technically all family—and for a while things are good until Isis and Osiris are eventually killed, Kahndaq is nearly destroyed, and leads again to Black Adam losing his mind.
This would be the role for Johnson to choose. As a wrestler, he was always more fun as a bad guy, and in truth, playing the bad guy is always more fun. Financially, there is likely less merchandising and arguably less exposure to be had, but from an artistic perspective, it’s impossible not to find the contradictory traits of Black Adam appealing. In one moment, you have Black Adam building reservoirs of water for his people and the next you have him committing a genocide in the name of his wife and nephew. There are elements of Greek tragedy to Black Adam, something sad and simple and understandable. They say that a hero is only as good as his villain, and for a time there were ongoing Black Adam miniseries and appearances while Captain Marvel/Shazam was relegated to sporadic cameos in various Justice League titles. Black Adam is the way to go.