While we knew that something like this was happening behind the scenes as DC was in turmoil with its old bosses leaving and a search for new ones underway, Variety has a new report detailing the pitch The Rock made that would have essentially been the backbone of the entire DC universe going forward.
According to the new report, The Rock went around essentially everyone to pitch new WB Discovery CEO David Zaslav himself on a grand vision for the DC universe, which would involve a multi-year plan focused on Black Adam and Superman. Multiple films would ultimately lead a showdown, with Henry Cavill in the Superman role, a cameo which The Rock bent over backward to secure for his movie as the basis for setting all this up.
The problem was, of course, that Black Adam ended up not performing well enough to justify any of this. It did $391 million on a $195 million budget with $40 million in reshoots. Then once James Gunn and Peter Safran were hired as the new DC bosses, they first let Henry Cavill, and everyone else know, he wouldn’t be Superman after all. Then they later met with The Rock, and he confirmed Black Adam wasn’t part of any near-term plans either. In short, the entire concept did not pan out.
Even if some DC fans are furious with Gunn and Safran as they’ve just gotten started because of Henry Cavill’s exiting, it’s hard to imagine that anyone would have been all that enthused about the main arc of the DC universe going forward being led by some sort of imagined, not-remotely-comic-based rivalry between Black Adam and Superman, where Black Adam should instead be facing his actual rival, Shazam, and Superman should be fighting someone like Zod, Brainiac, Lex Luthor, Darkseid or Doomsday.
The article gets into somewhat petty sniping territory at a certain point, talking about how The Rock wanted his personal tequila brand featured at the premiere of his PG-13 movie, but whatever, that’s just pretty normal Hollywood stuff. But the more interesting part is just how hard The Rock went to bat to get this Black Adam universe planted as the seed of the next era of DC. The problem is that he was all but publicly declaring this was the plan ahead of time, even going so far as to borderline spoil his own movie’s Superman cameo, citing their future rivalry. But this was always just that, The Rock’s plan, not something the DC/WB higher-ups ever fully greenlit, and I would argue, not something most fans would have really cared all that much about, Cavill’s return aside.
As for what James Gunn and Peter Safran have planned, no one really has any real idea past the brief glimpses of what they’ve said about a younger Superman. Gunn has always focused on more obscure characters in both the Marvel and DC universes during his tenure there, and has been posting random DC heroes like Lobo and Mr. Terrific. But he’s also reiterated that he’s not just…ditching the JLA, or anything like that.
As for the remnants of the DCEU past Black Adam and Superman, that’s where things get confusing. A new rumor has some execs allegedly saying they’re open to keeping literal criminal Ezra Miller as The Flash. Jason Momoa has an Aquaman sequel coming but may jump roles to Lobo within the same universe. Wonder Woman is just…done, as Patty Jenkins walked away from the third movie after receiving pushback about its direction. Zack Snyder fans are as fervent as ever, now trying to get Gunn and Safran fired and have Snyder return to make two more Justice League movies, a Ben Affleck Batman movie and a bunch of other stuff that will never in a million years actually happen.
It's still a mess. A mess with new leaders, one of which is no longer The Rock, but a mess all the same.