Inside the “relentless” Battle to Get Henry Cavill Back as Superman in Black Adam
“We were told ‘no’ an unbelievable amount.”
Getting a reluctant icon back into the DC cinematic universe takes a lot of power. Specifically: It takes Dwayne Johnson's power.
Warning: Spoilers for Black Adam ahead.
Black Adam is the latest entry in the DC film franchise, and former WWE champ turned Hollywood titan Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is in the title role. And while Black Adam’s comic origins are connected to Shazam, Johnson is setting his sights higher for a sequel: He wants Black Adam to brawl with Superman.
If you’ve read the reviews, you may have heard by now Black Adam has a surprise cameo in the mid-credits scene. In an interview with Inverse, Johnson’s business partner and Black Adam producer Hiram Garcia reveals what it took to bring the ultimate superhero back from the Phantom Zone.
The return of Superman
Black Adam is not only the debut for Johnson in the DC franchise but also the return of actor Henry Cavill in the role of Superman.
The British actor first donned the red cape of Krypton’s last son in the 2013 film Man of Steel, directed by Zack Snyder. Cavill reprised the role in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and again in 2017’s Justice League (later re-released in 2021 as Zack Snyder’s Justice League).
Since Snyder’s exit from DC, Cavill’s status as Superman was also left in doubt, as studio Warner Bros. seemed intent on rebooting the franchise with a new lead. For his part, Cavill seemed to have unfinished business with the role, telling Men’s Health in 2019: “You’ll see.”
Now, speaking to Inverse, Hiram Garcia reveals the battle to bring Cavill back to the DC fold.
“From day one of developing this film [Black Adam], we have been fighting for it,” Garcia tells Inverse.
Dwayne Johnson played a key role in recruiting Cavill, but Garcia reveals it took the combined effort of Johnson, himself, and Johnson’s business partner Dany Garcia (who is also Hiram’s sister and Henry Cavill’s professional representative) to make it happen.
It wasn’t easy. Warner Bros.’s brass was resistant, Garcia says, and told the trio “no” many times, according to Garcia.
“Dany, Dwayne, and I have spoken about this for years and worked on it and from all angles,” Garcia says. “The three of us have just been relentless on it.”
“Dany has been working diligently on this the last six years through her relationship with Henry. Dwayne and I have been working on it on the ground side with a relentless approach. It’s been a collective effort to bring this dream come true,” he says.
A new era
Most of the time, the people standing in Superman’s way are figures like Lex Luthor, Brainiac, and General Zod. But this time, Garcia claims, it was the changing priorities of DC and parent company Warner Bros. that largely kept Superman from Black Adam. Garcia doesn’t name names to Inverse, but a recent report by The Hollywood Reporter links one to these machinations: Walter Hamada.
Hamada, a now-former DC executive, had sought to “move DC beyond” the Snyder era, according to the report. The executive had plans for Superman, the trade magazine reports, including a Black Superman project still in development with J.J. Abrams and Ta-Nehisi Coates.
“There’s been regimes that have passed through DC and Warner Bros.,” Garcia tells Inverse. “What I appreciate is that the new regime, and our partner at New Line, Richard Brenner, who’s always had our back, understood and supported our vision. That wasn’t the case before. It was a battle to make it happen.”
“We would not relent,” Garcia says. “Many people tried to get us to stop, but we weren’t going to do it... We’re crazy, and we don’t stop, and we got the answer we wanted.”
According to the reports, Hamada rejected plans for Cavill’s Superman in Black Adam, but the casting choice won approval nonetheless, and the scene was shot in September of 2022.
“We took it right to the final moment,” Garcia says, “We got authorization as late as you could in a movie and finish the effects. The VFX partners were like, ‘We don’t know if we’re gonna pull it off.’ We’re like, ‘We got him. You got to.’ They did, and it came out great. We’re just so proud because we knew what the fans wanted. It’s what we wanted, as fans, to get Henry to continue the story of Superman.”
While Garcia calls it a “family” dream to have Superman in Black Adam (the Garcias are siblings, and Dany is Johnson’s ex-wife), it was an especially important dream for Hiram.
“It's such an honor,” he says, “I'm the biggest Superman fan in the world. The fact that we were able to pull it off, we’re just so proud. It was a highlight of our careers.”
Now, with Superman in Black Adam’s way, Garcia says anything is possible.
“Black Adam has his sights on the entire DC Universe,” Garcia teases. “We've always envisioned Black Adam should cross paths with all the heroes in the DC Universe. We've always loved the idea of Black Adam facing all of them, Shazam, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman you name it. We want to cross paths with all these great heroes.”
Black Adam opens in theaters on October 22.
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