Stop Blaming The Rock for Shazam! Fury of the Gods’ Box Office Failure

Photo:  Arturo Holmes (Getty Images)
Photo: Arturo Holmes (Getty Images)

If you’re a fan of comic book movies, you know DC’s film universe has been a hot mess for years. There have been very few hits and a lot of misses—like the recently released Shazam! Fury of the Gods. The Shazam! sequel, starring Zachary Levi, has been a box office disappointment while the reviews have been devastatingly—and hilariously—bad. Much of the film’s criticism has revolved around Levi’s underwhelming performance as the titular hero. And as if things haven’t gone badly enough, now it looks like the actor has found someone else to try and blame for the movie’s failure: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

According to The Wrap, Fury of the Gods’ mid-credits scene was supposed to feature members of the Justice Society of America offering a spot to Levi’s Shazam. But the outlet reports that Johnson blocked JSA characters from appearing in Shazam! 2. If you’ve seen the movie, then you know that it was actually Peacemaker’s Emilia Harcourt and John Economos who showed up on behalf of Amanda Waller. Shazam was also supposed to have a cameo in Black Adam, but Johnson vetoed that as well. Per The Hollywood Reporter, Levi responded to the report with an Instagram story of The Wrap’s article and the comment, “The truth shall set you free.”

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If the Chuck star is asking for the truth, then let’s talk about it: Dwayne Johnson is the star and producer of Black Adam. It is his responsibility to make sure that film is the best it can be. Choosing to have his anti-hero face off against Superman instead of Shazam was best for business. Let’s not pretend like this franchise still had some sort of connective tissue that required the JSA to appear in Shazam! 2. I’m well aware that Black Adam and Shazam are adversaries in the comic books. However, they are clearly not the same characters in the films and that’s OK. And if we’re being completely honest, you don’t cast The Rock in a movie to have him play second fiddle to a B-list hero.

This story is part of the ongoing narrative that Johnson is somehow at fault for the downfall of DC’s film franchise. Seriously, look at the headlines around this story. They’re all variations of “The Rock Sank Both Black Adam and Shazam Because He Was Selfish.” The hard truth is that the DCEU has been in a constant state of chaos since it began.

When Warner Bros. merged with Discovery, there was a period of time where it looked like no one was minding the store. From the Arrowverse, to HBO Max originals, to Joker, to Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey, everyone involved in making DC projects had to basically fend for themselves because there was no Kevin Feige-type of mastermind overseeing everything. Did Johnson overstep in his quest to build things around Black Adam and Superman? By Hollywood standards, he probably did. However, there’s something extremely sketchy about how Shazam! 2 flopping is suddenly being blamed on him when anyone who pays attention to tracking these things could have told you this movie was going to underperform.

Before DC Studios fully moves on from the DCEU to James Gunn’s Chapter 1: Gods and Monsters, it still has to release The Flash on June 16 and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom on Dec. 25. I’m sure if those flop, it will still somehow be The Rock’s fault too, because God forbid you actually blame the executives who were asleep at the wheel, other filmmakers who made mediocre projects or the fact that you did a bad job building your universe.

I’ve loved DC Comics my whole life and I want the movies to succeed. However at this point, you have to earn my loyalty back because I can’t trust that you’ll deliver a quality product. But you know who I can trust to deliver a fun, entertaining movie that my family will always enjoy? The Rock.

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