Dwayne Johnson has been attached to the role of Black Adam since 2014, before Warner Bros. even announced Shazam! as part of what would become known as the DC Extended Universe. However, the already-long path of the DC Comics villain/antihero to the big screen later took a couple of twists, first with news that he'll star in his own solo film, and then with the revelation that Black Adam won't appear in Shazam! at all. So where will Johnson make his eagerly anticipated DCEU debut? Speculation ranged from a Man of Steel sequel to Justice League, but the latest report suggests it could be Suicide Squad 2, which aren't exactly the magic words we were hoping for.
Sure, the rumored premise is solid enough, with the antiheroes of Task Force X assigned to track down a weapon of mass destruction that's revealed to be Black Adam. But that's not the kind of cinematic introduction the character needs, or deserves.
Although fans had long expected to see Black Adam face off against DC Comics' Shazam, there's a good argument to be made for using a solo film to establish the magical corners of the DCEU, the domain of gods, wizards and the Rock of Eternity. In the comics, Black Adam has been frequently depicted as an antihero, especially when it comes to his homeland, the fictional Middle Eastern nation of Kahndaq; he has no problem defending his people with extreme prejudice. Wouldn’t it be great for Black Adam's introduction to be in defense of his own country?
If Warner Bros. wants to utilize Johnson, a superstar in his own right, it would make more sense to build up Black Adam first rather than to shoehorn him into a film already filled with big-name actors and larger-than-life characters, as was done with The Joker in the original Suicide Squad. If Johnson were given the starring role, all eyes would be on him, meaning we’d likely get something far more interesting than a stereotypical villain, or a mere plot device.
But let’s roll the clock back. Remember when everyone assumed that because Jared Leto was a huge part of the marketing for Suicide Squad, his version of the Joker was going to be a huge antagonist that would change everything about the DC Universe going forward? There’s the risk that Black Adam could fall the same way. If he’s the MacGuffin that the team have to search for, that means there will easily be 50-60% of the film that doesn’t involve Dwayne Johnson.
And for a role like Teth-Adam, there needs to be a huge amount of screen time given to him so that audiences can be impressed and engage with the villain/anti-hero. Because Johnson is a very commanding actor, his charisma and performing style demands the attention of the viewer constantly. But that makes him perfect for a superhero/villain role, so why squander that ability in a film that needs to pay attention to several other huge characters that do the same thing. Harley Quinn and Deadshot were given huge parts of the first Suicide Squad film, and they’ll likely be given more in the sequel because of their popularity. So that doesn’t actually leave a lot of room for another huge personality like Johnson in the role.
But personality of the actors aside, Black Adam is a bigger villain than the Squad could handle. Sure, that would make a great obstacle for them to overcome across the course of the film, but his powers allow for a wider scope. He’s immortal, can survive in space, run at super speed, has super strength, and he doesn’t even need to eat. So how would the Suicide Squad even begin defeating him? He’s incredibly overpowered compared to them, but if they reduce some of his abilities that takes away some of the best things about Black Adam. The other option is that the Squad brings him onto the team. That's going to bring a very strange dynamic to a group that is already comprised of opposites. The enigmatic Harley Quinn and the devilish Captain Boomerang would undoubtedly annoy Black Adam. Unfortunately we've already seen that relationship with Deadshot and the rest of the team. Suicide Squad 2 needs to learn from its mistakes in the first film and push on into new territory.