Last October, Black Adam opened to mostly negative reviews and ended up earning just shy of $400 million at the worldwide box office. Compared to Shazam! Fury of the Gods and The Flash, that's a pretty solid result, but seeing as the movie cost over $250 million to produce, it was still a flop.
We'd later learn how star Dwayne Johnson had set out to build the DCEU around his anti-hero, even going around DC Films brass in order to bring Henry Cavill's Superman back into the fold.
However, when David Zaslav appointed James Gunn and Peter Safran as DC Studios' co-CEOs, they wasted no time in ousting Johnson (and Cavill). There was some talk about a possible return but new comments from the pro wrestler turned Hollywood A-Lister suggest his time as Black Adam really is over.
"'Black Adam' got caught in a vortex of new leadership," Johnson says in the video below. "It was so many changes in leadership. Anytime you have a company, a publicly traded company, and you have all those changes in leadership, you have people coming in who, creatively and fiscally, are going to make decisions that you may not agree with."
"That will always be one of the biggest mysteries," he continued. "You have the biggest opening of your career. Sure, no China, which could’ve been maybe 100 or 200 million more dollars. You have a superhero and you want to grow out the franchise. You bring back Superman and Henry Cavill, which the world went crazy. And we created a diverse superhero portfolio, where we have just men and women of color in 'Black Adam.'"
Johnson concluded by saying the demise of the Black Adam franchise is akin to "new ownership coming in and buying an NFL team and going, 'Not my coach, not my quarterback.' It doesn’t matter how many times you won the Super Bowl or how many rings you got, you’re going with somebody else."
There's absolutely zero chance any Hollywood blockbuster will make as much as $100 million in China right now, so the Middle Kingdom was never going to save the DCEU movie. That aside, it's clear Johnson is referring to DC Studios while talking about this change in leadership.
Based on what the trades have said, Gunn and Safran must have known they wouldn't be able to work with Johnson, particularly after the strings he pulled to bring Cavill back into the fold (which caused them a major headache right from the start). After all, that was done so Superman could fight Black Adam in a future movie and wasn't for the benefit of the wider DCEU.
And, with all due respect to the Black Adam star, what was the biggest opening of his career is chump change for truly successful superhero movies...