7 Things We Learned About Black Adam From Dwayne Johnson And The Filmmakers

The trailer for the upcoming Warner Bros. film "Black Adam" is finally here! The movie is hitting theaters on October 11, 2022 after years of prep, Covid delays, and schedule switching. I got a chance to join a small group of journalists to chat with star and producer Dwayne Johnson, director Jaume Collet-Serra, and producers Beau Flynn and Hiram Garcia on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, CA. We were shown the trailer, and participated in a Q&A about what we saw. 

In the film, we're going to see Teth-Adam, aka Black Adam (Johnson), who is killed and resurrected with the powers of a god, including flight. (You'll notice the very "Top Gun" moment in the trailer as Black Adam flies next to some jets.) Here are seven things we learned from Johnson and the filmmakers about "Black Adam." 

Dirty Harry and Unforgiven were inspirations of sorts for Black Adam

"Black Adam" has been a passion project for Johnson, who told us how he and Garcia in particular (and later Collett-Serra and Flynn) have been working on this since back in the early 2000s. Collet-Serra joined the project after he worked with Johnson on "Jungle Cruise," and joked that it was because he wears black all the time, which made him perfect for the job.

Johnson said that very early on, Collet-Serra asked him what his favorite Clint Eastwood film was. Johnson said, "Dirty Harry" or "Unforgiven." That inspired Collet-Serra because he said, "that makes sense because Black Adam is unforgiving. But also, we should make the 'Dirty Harry' of superheroes and supervillains." 

Collet-Serra responded, "We wanted to strike a tone that — in a world where [everything is] black and white — not everything is black and white. You need to kind of operate in that gray area. And that's what we tried to do."

As we see in the trailer, Black Adam is told that superheroes don't kill people. "I do," he says. Superheroes not killing people has been a debate as long as there have been comics. Like, if Batman just killed the Joker, how many lives would have been saved? It's certainly an interesting take on an antihero; not playing by the rules and doing what works for the situation and not the future.

Easter eggs and a post-credits scene?

I got a few moments with Beau Flynn after the event, and I had to ask about Easter eggs and a post-credits scene. He told me, "There are a lot of Easter eggs in the movie. Every movie, even if it's not a comic book movie, we try to put things for [fans] to find. But there are a lot of great little gems in there. But we did start in the trailer on purpose, and I think the more you study it — I love when people go frame by frame through the trailers. In the movie, it opens up a very expansive world for us. There are some cool appearances, and I think people are going to be pretty excited." I guess we're going to have to do an Easter egg hunt with the trailer!

I did mention that a certain character named Adrianna Tomaz (Sarah Shahi) becomes a goddess in the comics. Flynn didn't say that she would be turning into Isis straight out, but he did sort of hint. 

"That's what's cool about it. There are things that pay off inside the body of the movie, but there are things that will be second and third payoffs. We plant a lot of seeds. There's a lot of places to go. Origin stories are really cool. Sometimes it's a tough balance, but this is like real scope and scale and it's big, but also it is the origin story of Teth-Adam to Black Adam and how he got there. From there, you see the sky's the limit — or rather, no limit."

Of a post-credits scene, he said, "Yeah, there could be one, too. There could be one." He was smiling and nodding though, so I'm going to take that as a yes. We're certainly going to see more fun stuff in the future, because when I asked him which superhero he'd like to pair Black Adam with, he told me that question could get him in a lot of trouble. "There's a lot that the fans want to see." He said they really do listen to fans, something Johnson repeated a number of times today. Flynn continued, "What's cool is that they're all in a universe together, and so a lot of things can happen. Back to your Easter eggs, we give a couple of those little gems inside the movie that I think you'll dig." 

Separating the Shazam and Black Adam stories was important

Comic book fans know about Black Adam, but he's lesser known outside of those fans. I asked the group about how they balanced the introduction of a "new" character without upsetting longtime fans. Johnson said that giving the characters Shazam (Zachary Levi) and Black Adam different film origins was important so they could have enough time for that. Johnson explained that he read the script for the duo film and said:

"I immediately felt like, we have to separate these two movies. We have to honor Shazam, and that origin story, and what that is and what that can be for the fans. And then we also have to tell our story, too, as well and I think in separating them to your point with the majority of the world not knowing who Black Adam is. If you weren't a serious comic book fan, it was important, I think to separate them and now tell each story respectfully."

Garcia added that one of the things that fans love about Johnson is his authenticity, and that this character sort of had that same quality, speaking his mind. "We need a Black Adam. We need a Black Adam who will speak their mind and how they feel about what is just and what is right, no matter what the repercussion are on either side."

They wanted Gen Z voices in the film

We're getting some younger members of the JSA in "Black Adam," with Noah Centineo ("To All the Boys I've Loved Before") playing Atom Smasher, and Quintessa Swindell ("Euphoria") playing Cyclone. Flynn said that they really had their choice of actors once they had Dwayne Johnson on board, and that they were thrilled with their choices in terms of casting. 

Flynn explained, "Quintessa came in and won the role — that chemistry is so important. Yeah, between Atom Smasher and Cyclone, and that's a really cool, fresh relationship. They have optimism about the world. We haven't seen, really, Gen Z really represented quite like that. So that's also really exciting. There's a lot of honesty there."

"Honesty" seemed to be the buzz word for the film, and that Black Adam is someone who speaks the truth. It sounds like he's not the only one. One other fun tidbit I learned about the casting was that Aldis Hodge ("Hidden Figures") didn't believe it was really Johnson on the phone when he called to say Hodge had the role. Hodge sort of threatened to put his mom on the phone!

They used similar tech to The Batman

The filmmakers were asked if they used the ILM tech Volume, which was used to create a lot of the scenes in "The Batman," particularly in the Batmobile chase scene. It's a 360 screen that allows the director and the actors to see what they're supposed to be acting against instead of blue and green screens. (You can get a sense of it in this video.)

Collet-Serra explained that they did use it, and that it, "is really to put the character in a space and the camera will track the background. So as the camera moves, the background will adjust using real engine technology." He said they used it for a lot of the flying sequences, but also for character capture. "There was the volumetric capture which is which is a new technology that it basically we put Dwayne complete 360 degree, very small Volume with 100 cameras, and his whole body is becomes a CG asset. And his performance then can be inserted into a shot."

Johnson said that he's gotten to do some movies with great technology, but, "this was by far the greatest experience. Technology-wise, innovation-wise, VFX-wise ... I would go on set and so some of these scenes where I'm flying, I would be put on the apparatus, and I would start flying." He said that he could actually see the city he was flying against. "It was unbelievable."

Shocker: Dwayne Johnson didn't have padding in his superhero suit

I'm sure you're all stunned by this, but Garcia did mention that Johnson worked very hard in terms of working out over years of this production, and that he didn't have to pad his superhero suit. I mean, I just stood in front of the man, and nope. No padding needed. 

Garcia said that he's worked with Johnson a long time, and had never seen him work so hard to prepare for a film. "It's an incredible stress on your life in terms of specific diet in terms of working out, in terms of really being disciplined... We don't know any superheroes that have ever been in a suit that doesn't have padding ... it was extraordinary to witness." 

Though, to be fair, I somehow doubt that Dwayne Johnson isn't working out, even when he's not doing a film. 

They're proud of the diversity of cast members

Having a cast that reflected the world was important to the filmmakers. Johnson said that it was part of honoring the mythology, "but then being open and authentic and real and raw with how we want to approach things ... staking our clan into the ground. This is who we are and this is who we represent. And this is our kind of movie, and 'Black Adam' represents the world, the world of color, the world of acceptance, the world of embracing, and also the world having a real metal and a core of what you believe in ... we have a lot of color on this movie. Black people, Brown people, white people, a few green people ... "

Now, does that mean Martian Manhunter? Just curious. Garcia added: 

"The cast reflects the world, right? I think that's what we were most proud about — we were able to assemble phenomenal actors that all came in and won the roles, and knocked us off our seats, but they also represent the world. I think when people look at this, we want to be able to inspire people and let everyone see someone who represents themselves in there. And I think we were able to put together a team of killer actors that knock it out of the park, and embody those heroes, and also embody the world."

"Black Adam" will hit theaters on October 11, 2022.