Hollywood intrigue is back from the holidays – Tinseltown practically goes into hiberation from Thankgiving to Epiphany, so we’ve only had James Gunn dueling with Snyder Bros to keep us busy for the last month or so. But oh yeah, the intrigue is heating up as Gunn and co DC Studios head Peter Safran prepare to unveil their 8-10 year plan for DC’s cinematic exploits.
The internet will explode on that day…but before that, a few scores to settle!
Top notch entertainment journalist Tatiana Siegal has returned to Variety to give them their own bombshells to compete with THR’s Borys Kit. She kicked things off in explosive style with a look at (what else) behind the scenes DCU drama. First on the agenda: Settling scores with Dwayne Johnson.
It’s safe to say that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson didn’t make many friends at Warners with his 15 year quest to make a Black Adam film. He wouldn’t have gotten to make it at all if he wasn’t arguably the world’s biggest movie star, but a film based on a fairly obscure character without other DCU movies to tether itto was a bit of a stretch even for Johnson. The movie was middling or a flop at the box office, depending on who you ask, and Johnson and WBD openly sparred on their interpretation of those numbers.
In my recent coverage of the DCU in-fighting, I joked that Johnson was vying to be the “Shadow Feige” for the drifting studio. I based this on Johnson’s not too subtle hints in his Black Adam press tour that he had his own ideas for the DCEU going forward. Well, it turns out I definitely smelled a whiff of what The Rock was cooking with that one, as Siegel reports he pitched this idea directly to WBD head David Zaslav:
Not long after the Warner Bros. Discovery merger closed in April, Dwayne Johnson directly pitched CEO David Zaslav on a multiyear plan for Black Adam and a Cavill-led Superman in which the two properties would interweave, setting up a Superman-versus-Black Adam showdown, sources say. “Black Adam” producers Hiram Garcia, who is Johnson’s former brother-in-law, and Beau Flynn also were part of the brain trust looking to take DC down a new path. Other sources confirmed the meeting but downplayed any discussion of Black Adam’s future.
Johnson is nothing if not a man with focus and drive. While his Littlefinger scheming came to naught this time, he didn’t give up on the plan, going behind studio heads to insert Henry Cavill’s Superman into a Black Adam post credits scene. This “ruffled featehrs,” Siegel reports, with one insider saying ““Dwayne went around everyone, which didn’t sit well.”
The Variety piece also floats some unflattering gossip about Johnson:
Meanwhile, the Johnson-Warners relationship already was wearing thin after Johnson pushed for a producing credit on the animated film “DC League of Super-Pets,” which opened in July, but did little to promote it. The actor also insisted on a tequila bar at the New York premiere of “Black Adam” featuring his Teremana brand, despite the film being rated PG-13.
We’re all well acquainted with Hollywood axe grinding via pieces in the trades, and this is a classic example. But it is entirely accurate?
My memories of the long ago summer of ’22 when Superpets opened is dim, but a check back at the Rock’s instagram account reveals several posts like this:
“In honor of our @DCLeagueOfSuperPets movie, @KevinHart4Real and I held some insanely beautiful puppies from our friends @BestFriendsAnimalSociety that we want to help find a home! Let us know in the comments why you and your family would make the best home for one of these little angels – QUAIL, SPARROW, STORK & my little favorite,
DC SUPER PETS in theaters 7/29! Hit my bio for tickets ?”
he writes. If plugging your movie with videos of an adorable puppy isn’t promoting a film, I don’t know what is. While Johnson’s IG is filled with pictures of his kids, his workouts, his tequila, his biceps and so on, that period certainly did include many posts promoting Superpets, in which he voiced Krypto himself.
If this is the sum total of the Rock’s promo, then it could be little, but he certainly didn’t ignore the film.
The tequila anecdote’s mention of the film being “PG-13” puzzled me a bit. At first I thought it meant he insisted on tequila at the premiere party, which, believe me, if there wasn’t alcohol, the stars would riot. I guess they meant the theater, though. But PG-13 means not g-rated, and people drink at movies all the time these days. Was it pushy? Sure, but it’s not like he insisted on setting up a stand for cod nuggets.
While these details are petty, it all adds up to Johnson being a pain in the ass behind the scenes, and #1 movie star or no, the folks at Warners are not shy about saying so anonymously. But make no mistake: if Black Adam had been a huge hit, you’d never have heard a word about any of this.
Instead, Black Adam been thrown on the slag heap of abandoned DC movie franchises, of which there are many. In fact, going forward the DCU, according to Siegel, “won’t include Cavill’s Superman or Wonder Woman at all.”
This last phrase created yet another Twitter ruckus. NO WONDER WOMAN? Are we back in 2001? James Gunn jumped on Twitter to debunk this notion:
I hereby debunk it (only because it’s not true). pic.twitter.com/tlKSaqxsE7
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) January 5, 2023
But there was another rumor going around even more terrifying: Given that Ezra Miller is undergoing mental health treatment and staying out of trouble for months at a time, “some executives are amenable to continuing with the actor as the world-saving speedster after “The Flash” bows on June 16,” Siegel wrote.
With everything else that has been left a smoking ruin in the DC saga – Johnson’s beloved Black Adam-verse crushed, Batgirl cancelled, Cavill left humiliated, Jason Momoa perhaps traded to planet Lobo, Gal Gadot reduced to chipper tweets – that EZRA MILLER should be the one to come walking out of the smoke, Terminator fashion, is just the last mind-blowing straw.
And Gunn demurred entirely on this one:
I don’t know what’s out there about Ezra but our slate is 8 to 10 years (but we will only be announcing some of it this month).
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) January 5, 2023
“I don’t know what’s out there about Ezra but our slate is 8 to 10 years (but we will only be announcing some of it this month),” Gunn wrote.
That The Flash is not a disaster is a rumor that has been floating around of late. Other recent stories claim that WB execs are thrilled with the shape The Flash is in, among other optimistic tidbits.
While this may seem to go against all that is holy, remember, The Flash is coming out this summer, and WBD people still have to sell it and try to recoup the massive budget. Of course they are going to go out of their way to try to get people excited about it, despite it being the next to last gasp of the Snyder-verse, which everyone can’t wait to put behind them.
Also: if Miller is getting the help they so clearly needed, that’s a very good thing, for their own safety and that of everyone around them. The Flash movie is really secondary to all of that.
Also, also, don’t cry for Dwayne Johnson. He has the XFL opening up soon; Young Rock coming back… Red One, a new franchise with Chris Evans, coming out on Amazon Prime; other movies to star in; and many other projects from his very successful production company. He’ll be fine.
So back to waiting for the Big Gunn reveal! The clock is ticking!
What do you all think? Are you looking forward to The Flash? Would you drink The Rock’s tequila? Who should play Superman? Let us know in the comments!