Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dwayne Johnson as Shazam/Captain Marvel?

Well, after all that news about the potential appearance of a Marvel Comics Captain Marvel in the movies, the one owned by another comic book company hit the news today.

Apparently, Dwayne Johnson (AKA The rock AKA Rocky Malvia, pro wrestler with WWE and popular film star) said something that people are interpreting as a big, BIG hint that he will be playing Captain Marvel, or Shazam, depending on which name they decide to go with, in a movie coming out soon.

Here is the interview in question:

And here are various websites' takes on the news:
...and I am sure a lot more.

Some of these articles keep up the uncertainty of the announcement, while others just come straight out and say "This is it."

This would be big news. As we all may remember, years ago, when the first rumours surfaced about Johnson playing Captain Marvel, it was all wishful thinking. Then folks with more familiarity with the DC Universe suggested Black Adam, one of Captain Marvel's arch enemies, as a more appropriate character. Among the reasons, political correctness aside (and said with loads of Liberal Guilt), it's not usually a good move to change the race of an iconic character like Captain Marvel, and since Johnson has African ancestry and has played a Middle Eastern warrior before, casting him as Black Adam seemed like an awesome choice. This eventually led to a MTV on-line survey in which over 80% of the respondents said they would he should rather play Black Adam, and Johnson said he would be happy to discuss the possibility.

But now, whether they are being cautious or bold about it, everyone is jumping on the "The Rock is Captain Marvel/Shazam" bandwagon. I think we may want to slow down that bus. Lets look at this quotation from an earlier article at ...

"Well, here's the thing - so we've been having these ongoing discussions. I won't tell you who it is, but I'll tell you the three qualities we're looking for, okay? This is going to be fun! Here are three qualities. The first quality we were looking for was that he had to be extremely complex and have a lot going on. What that does for me as an actor and the studio is it gives us space that we can explore; his complexities. The other quality was that he had to - the character we were looking for had to be well-known but never brought to life. Then what that does again as an actor, it gives me a little bit of space, and we talked about personality. It just gives me a chance to put an imprint into his personality, with the set of tools that I could bring to the table and put a very unique twist on his personality, but still pay homage to who he is. The third thing - and most important - is he had to be a badass motherfucker, okay, and on a Superman level of power, where he could throw down. In those three qualities, I'm happy we've found that character. Right now, we're out to a lot of writers."

Now this does not sound to me like the Big Red Cheese. Let's look at his points one by one:

The classic Captain Marvel is not complex. He is a mighty superhero who's alter ego is a boy. He doesn't have a girlfriend, there are no inherent neuroses, he isn't out for revenge, he just fights against injustice because that's what he was created to do. Later incarnations have the issue of him being a boy in a superhero's body, but even that is not so "complex with a lot going on." That's just "Freaky Friday" or Big" with super powers.

Captain Marvel has been brought to life several times, from the "Adventures of Captain Marvel serial in 1941 to the TV series "Shazam!" in the 1970's to his appearance in the "Legends of the Superheroes" specials.

Captain Marvel is not a "badass." Don;t get me wrong, he has the strength of Hercules and the courage of Achiles, and he can go toe-to-toe with Superman, but "badass" implies an attitude, It's a don't-fuck-with-me swagger that intimidates certain people. Captain Marvel is a nice guy. He has always been a nice guy. His "nice guy-ness" is one o the defining characteristics that differentiates him from other superheroes. Now I don;t know if they are going to go with the "Big" concept of the World's Mightiest Mortal having Billy Batson's mind, or if they will go with the original concept that they are separate personalities with shared memories, but they will probably go with the former, and true badassedness comes with having experience being as powerful as you are. You have the maturity to handle your power and now exactly what to do with it. Thus, Billy Batson, a 10-16-year-old boy (depending on which version you are reading) cannot be a badass. And Captain Marvel would never think of saying "motherfucker," much less want to be one.

Black Adam, on the other hand, is a complex, badass mo-fo. In the original version, he was exiled to the farthest star for turning evil, then flew 5000 miles back to take revenge. In the pre-"New 52" DC universe, he reformed himself and became a hero, serving with the Justice Society, then he conquered his home country, Qandaq, took over the government, and executed super-villains by tearing their bodies in half (because that's they way they did it back in his day, 5,000 years ago). He married the mighty Isis and adopted an injured boy and gave him the power to become Osiris (thes setting up a "Black Marvel" family), then got so upset when his wife was killed that he massacred every single man, woman and child in the neighboring country and went on a world-wide rampage that only ended when his "magic word" (which was also "Shazam") was changed. He then went on a worldwide trek to find it again. He then went on another worldwide trek with the skeleton he thought was of his wife to get her resurrected (it didn't work. someone switched skeletons on him). Somewhere in there he also "corrupted" a powerless Mary Batson by giving her a share of his power, turning her into "Black Mary" for a while. Now that's some complex badassery.

And that character has never been "brought to life" (except in a few animated cartoons).

Another thing about what Johnson said was that they were looking for a role that he could believably play. In the interview with, what talking about the discussions he has had with DC about what character he could play he said:

"There is baggage...and it's good baggage, that I have. I am a certain way and my wiring is my wiring, my DNA is my DNA, and when I step on stage or on screen I'm aware of what I am able to bring to a character, and so is DC [quotation edited for grammatical cohesiveness]."

Can we really see Dwayne Johnson, the rock, playing a young teenage boy awkwardly trying to figure out how to use a superhero's body and blshign at the attentions of a beautiful woman, or can we seem him as a powerful and vengeful ruler of a Middle-Eastern desert kingdom? where have I seen that before...)

Now, I have been wrong before. I thought that 9/11 must have been an Iraqi plot, for instance. But I think that Dwayne Johnson's statements do not preclude the possibility of him being Black Adam, and, in fact, support that possibility.