SAN DIEGO – Superman didn’t show up at Comic-Con Saturday. Current super man Dwayne Johnson did the trick, though.
The Rock made an epic entrance surrounded by smoke and lightning – and in full “Black Adam” costume, no less – at the Warner Bros. panel to promote his upcoming film (in theaters Oct. 21) as well as Zachary Levi’s superhero sequel ” Shazam! Fury of the Gods” (Dec. 21).
“The journey for ‘Black Adam,’ it’s been a long journey, one filled with passion, with commitment, with grit,” Johnson said after changing into a shirt and slacks.
He talked about how for years he’d bring movies to Comic-Con and hoped people would like them. “To be here today and be Black Adam throwing around lightning like candy, that’s a dream come true,” he told the crowd.
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Johnson, his castmates and director Jaume Collet-Serra showed off new footage from the movie, which centers on a slave with god-like powers who’s been entombed for 5,000 years and is then unleashed on a modern world. Audiences were able to see Johnson’s antihero Black Adam in violent mode, Justice Society members including Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo) and Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell), and even a glimpse at Viola Davis as returning “Suicide Squad” honcho Amanda Waller.
Collet-Serra likened “Black Adam” to a Clint Eastwood 1970s “Dirty Harry” film. “He has a very unconventional origin story,” the filmmaker said. “I like movies with characters who move in the gray area, with their own morality. When the system is corrupt and can’t protect the innocent, you need someone to work outside the system and break it down.”
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Centineo revealed that Atom Smasher “comes from a pedigree of heroism and a little bit of villainy. There’s a complicated past but he wants to prove himself as a hero.” And with Cyclone, those two are young people “trying to figure out who we are as people,” Swindell said. “And we’re thrown in this mix with our powers and how we exert our energy.”
Swindell choked up when she said playing Cyclone was “the biggest honor of my life.”
The cast saw “Black Adam” for the first time this week, and Hodge – who plays the “savage” Hawkman – was particularly psyched: “I’m a comic book nerd. I’m in the family. When I saw this, I was like, ‘Oh. Did something brand-new new. Y’all not ready.”
One fan asked Johnson who would win in a fight, Black Adam or Superman, which put a big grin on the muscular star’s face. “Well, look. Don’t threaten me with a good time,” Johnson quipped. “Pound for pound, they’re pretty close. I guess it all depends on who’s playing Superman. I will leave it at that.”
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Also at the Warner Bros. panel, Zachary Levi and his “Fury of the Gods” including Asher Angel and Lucy Liu debuted their first trailer. In it, Levi’s Shazam is trying to find his place in a world of superheroes and sort of feels like a fraud, but that’s when the villainous goddesses known as the Daughters of Atlas (Liu, Rachel Zegler and Helen Mirren) show up. Cue dragons, unicorns, “Fast and Furious” jokes and Shazam’s superpowered foster siblings (aka the “Shazamily”).
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“I love playing this role. It’s so much fun,” said Levi, adding that he can relate to Shazam being a “man-child.” “There’s just is much heart and humor. And I am like a Peter Pan of sorts.” Plus the Shazamily is going through some “growing pains. Superfamily comes with super problems.”
Levi also expressed his joy at being back at Comic-Con: An admitted nerd, he’s been a regular for 14 years, going back to his days starring on NBC’s “Chuck.” “I missed you guys so dang much,” he said. “I can’t even take it.”
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