For what seems like a decade, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has been attached to a film treatment for "Captain Marvel", now known as "Shazam" (for legal reasons). When "New Line Cinema" was set to produce a film for the former Fawcett Comics hero, Johnson was rumored to be up for the role of Black Adam, the captain's arch nemesis. That plan fell through, but Johnson has made it no secret that he wants to play a major role in a comic book film. One can imagine he is either pleased, or perturbed, to see former WWE peer Dave "Batista" Bautista land the role as Drax for August's "Guardians of the Galaxy". Previous teases by Johnson have seen him claim the character he is negotiating to play as being "complex" and "a bad a**".
Now, an interview with TotalFilm (in promotion for his latest film, "Hercules"), Johnson gets the closest to revealing which character he's been in talks with DC Entertainment to star in. He claims the hero has "the power of Superman" and denies it being another stab at the Green Lantern (such as John Stewart), and that both he and DC Entertainment have been working for "years" to figure out how to properly capitalize on the good "baggage" that the Rock brings to a role to find the right character for him to play. He ends the interview by carefully selecting the clue as, "Just say the word".
This is the biggest clue yet that Johnson could be up to play Shazam in either a "Justice League" film (or yet another cameo in "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice") and/or a "Shazam" film itself. Warner Brothers has had the "big red cheese" on their radar for a film adaptation since the turn of the century. Created by C.C. Beck and Bill Parker in 1939 for Fawcett Comics, the hero began as a twelve year old homeless kid named Billy Batson who meets an old wizard in a subway tunnel who grants him the ability to become an adult demigod when he utters the magical word, "SHAZAM!". It is meant to stand in for the powers of the gods that his new form embodies - the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles and the speed of Mercury. From the late 1930's into the early 1950's, "Captain Marvel" was one of Superman's biggest rivals in terms of comic book sales, even outselling the "man of steel" on many occasions. DC Comics finally bled the smaller comic company dry via endless lawsuits over copyright infringement (claiming "Captain Marvel" was a rip off of Superman) and ultimately sold the license to DC Comics in 1972. By then, however, Marvel Comics had claimed the copyright to the name "Captain Marvel", so any subsequent DC Comics uses of the character could not use that phrase in the title. The character also starred in his own Republic Film serial in 1971 and a Filmation TV series in 1974, as well as appearing in many animated DC Comics based cartoons over the years.
Despite nearly every archetypal aspect of superheroes being imitated and repeated, the central premise of "Shazam" (a child transforming into an adult hero) has been left mostly alone in most forms of media, even comic books. While the character has often been seen as a lighthearted one, the issue of Batson being a poor homeless child could be seen as vastly innovative considering the very real problem of homeless children in America. And considering how well known "the Rock" is, it would make the most sense to make him the big star instead of the villain.
Separation between film and TV established for DC media!
As DC Entertainment continues to struggle to get some momentum for blockbuster films featuring their iconic heroes, they continue to have success on the small screen. After a ten season run of "Smallville" on "The CW", a series revolving around Green Arrow/Oliver Queen called "Arrow" has been approved for a third season and has spawned at least one spin off, "The Flash", on the same network (alongside a TV show for "iZombie" from Vertigo). In addition, a pre-Batman "Gotham" series is set to debut on Fox while NBC is set to air a "Constantine" series. This led to some rumors that DC Entertainment would attempt to link their film and TV divisions into one cohesive universe much like Marvel Studios is doing with their line of films alongside "Agents of SHIELD" and (soon to be) "Agent Carter" on ABC. Stephen Amell, who stars in "Arrow", has made little secret of wishing to appear alongside other DC Comics heroes in film.
Now, chief creative officer Geoff Johns has shot this rumor down; there will be no cross continuity between DC's TV shows and films. However, Johns did state that "Arrow" and "The Flash" would be used to introduce more DC superheroes to TV (simply not the "big two", Batman or Superman), and that he would conveniently also like to see "Shazam" on the big screen. Can one expect one thunderous announcement at the San Diego Comic Con this weekend? Stay tuned!