While the MCU plods along uninterrupted, its megaton footsteps sending other movie franchises scrambling, DC universe of films has seen chaos in the last year, between Ezra Miller's continued legal troubles, information about the Aquaman films coming out in the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial, and the sudden cancelation of the Batgirl movie. That doesn't include the whiplash-inducing return and un-return of Henry Cavill's Superman, and the ascension of James Gunn and Peter Safran as the new heads of DC Studios. Behind all that chaos was a power play from Dwayne Johnson for a kind of control of the DCU, Variety reports.
Shortly after the Warner Bros.-Discovery merger closed this spring, Johnson reportedly met with CEO David Zaslav, pitching him on a multi-year plan to lead up to a big-screen showdown Black Adam and Superman. Along with Johnson, Black Adam producers Hiram Garcia and Beau Flynn were involved in this pitch.
All of this took place directly leading up to the exit of DC boss Walter Hamada and Warner Bros. executive Toby Emmerich, and Johnson "went around everyone" to pitch his plan according to the report. Johnson's push to bring Cavill back directly conflicted with Emmerich's request to find a new actor to play the role of the Man of Steel in future films.
The report details one push after another by Johnson to acquire more power and credit in the DC films structure, including a producing credit on DC League of Super-Pets, as well as a tequila bar serving his Teremana tequila at premiere for the PG-13-rated Black Adam.
"His demands increased and the returns weren't there," notes one insider quoted in the report. Black Adam was shot on a $195 million budget with another $40 million in reshoots--plus a massive marketing push--but only took in about $391 million worldwide, cracking the thin ice behind Johnson's plan to make Black Adam the star of the DC Universe.
The report notes that new DC Studios heads James Gunn and Peter Safran have big plans for the DC Universe, but that it won't be a blanket reset. Ezra Miller has stayed out of the news since they began mental health treatment, and some executives are reportedly happy to allow the actor to continue playing the scarlet speedster. Meanwhile, Shazam and Aquaman both have sequels on the way, Gunn's Peacemaker will get a season 2, and Blue Beetle, starring Cobra Kai's Xolo Maridueña, is still on the schedule.