“Shazam! Fury of the Gods” hit theatres on March 17, resulting in a disappointing opening weekend with just $65 million at the worldwide box office — a 43 per cent drop from the first “Shazam” movie.
While there are certainly many reasons behind why the film flopped (an anemic 52 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes, for example), a report from TheWrap offers another factor: Dwayne Johnson and his attempt to place his Black Adam and Henry Cavill’s Superman at the centre of the DC Extended Universe.
According to TheWrap, “Black Adam” was intended to feature a post-credits sequence featuring Zachary Levi’s “Shazam” character, which would have linked the two movies and, in theory, bolstered the success of “Fury of the Gods”. That sequence, the outlet reports, would have seen Levi’s character recruited for the Justice Society — until Johnson personally “vetoed” the plan.
Instead, the post-credits sequence featured Black Adam receiving a surprise visit from the Man of Steel, with Henry Cavill reprising the role of Superman, with the scene representing Johnson’s intention for future films featuring the two superheroes.
“Dwayne tries to sell himself as bigger than the movie,” a “high-ranking Hollywood executive who asked for anonymity” said of Johnson. “He’s one of the few people who always thinks he’s the most important person in any situation or room.”
The report alleges that then-DC Films head Walter Hamada vetoed bringing Cavill in for the cameo, “but Johnson went over his head and got approval from Warner Bros. Film Group co-CEOs Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy,” noted TheWrap.
“Instead of making a movie, he wants to extend his brand and make a brand centred on himself,” said the unnamed executive.
In addition, a post Johnson wrote on Instagram declaring that “the hierarchy of power in the DC Universe is about to change” was meant to imply that Black Adam was now at the top of the DCEU alongside Superman — effectively shutting out Levi’s Shazam.
After the DCEU shakeup that placed James Gunn and Peter Safron in the top positions, it was announced the planned “Black Adam” sequel had been scrapped, and the earlier announcement that Cavill was returning as Superman was rescinded.
While reps for Johnson didn’t respond to a request for comment, Levi took to Instagram Stories to comment on a post featuring key points from TheWrap‘s report, seemingly confirming its accuracy by writing, “The truth shall set you free.”
After Levi’s social media made headlines, the actor appeared on Instagram Live on Thursday, March 23 and attempted to clarify his intentions.
“I may or may not have, you know, reposted something in my Stories about a story that I had nothing to do with that [The Wrap] had reported on, and then I got flack about it because people were saying, ‘Oh, What are you doing? You’re trying to blame this guy because your movie’s not doing well. Like you’re trying to blame us,’” Levi said, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter.
“Listen, I haven’t blamed anybody. There’s not one single person that I have blamed for anything about the way that our movie has performed,” he continued.
“The reason I decided to share that was not because I wanna blame anybody for anything,” Levi added. “It’s because I do not want to be blamed for things that are not on me. And as a leader, and I believe, a protector of my family, my Shazam-ly and everyone who worked so hard on these movies … we have been doing everything we can to fight for you, the fans.”
Zachary Levi confirms the Justice Society characters who were going to appear in the #Shazam: Fury of the Gods mid credit scene was Hawkman and Cyclone.⚡️
“The original intent was to have Hawkman and Cyclone be there to invite [Shazam into the JSA] […] We were thwarted.” pic.twitter.com/C1fRq4nh8u
— Shazam Updates (@ShazamNews) March 24, 2023
The actor also revealed that he’d fought to have Cavill make a cameo in the first “Shazam!” movie, but was shot down.
“That was not on us. That was not because we didn’t want that to happen for you. […] I wanted him so bad in the first movie,” he shared.
Levi went on to outline the post-credits sequence that was initially planned for “Black Adam”, which would have tied Shazam to the Justice Society.
“The original intent was to have Hawkman and Cyclone be there to invite me… by the way, this is a little bit of a spoiler alert for anybody who hasn’t seen the movie. Sorry, whatever, it’s all online anyway. So, our intent, our desire — Walter Hamada, Peter Safran, David Sandberg, myself, everybody — we had an awesome scene that would have tied me in to the JSA with Hawkman and with Cyclone, and we were thwarted,” he explained.
Levi concluded by reiterating that he wasn’t trying to assign blame for the tepid performance of “Shazam! Fury of the Gods”, but simply wanted to be transparent about what took place.
“I’m coming to the defence of truth because truth is good,” Levi said. “We should all live in it guys, even when it’s hard, even when it’s something that might fly in the face of something that we already might have believed before and now it challenges whatever our idea or our opinion is. We need to live in the truth.”