Black Adam has faced controversy due to its reference to 2017’s Justice League. A new trailer for the Dwayne Johnson-starring film was recently released, featuring footage from prior DCEU entries: Aquaman, Birds of Prey, Batman v Superman and the original version of Justice League. However, the trailer was removed from social media and Warner Bros.' YouTube channel and later re-uploaded without any traces of the 2017 team-up movie.
The move came on the heels of the trailer being met with criticism online due to it featuring footage from Joss Whedon's version of Justice League. Specifically, a shot of Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) attacking Earth in ancient times, which was an assault carried out by Darkseid in Zack Snyder's Justice League.
Some were displeased by the trailer acknowledging that version of the movie, as can be seen in the following tweets:
Following the backlash, Black Adam star Dwayne Johnson tweeted a revised version of the trailer, writing "corrected" in the caption alongside a "fist bump" emoji:
"Corrected. Long before the world of heroes and villains, ['Black Adam'] ruled it all. A god with zero mercy and power born from rage. The [Man in Black] hits theaters worldwide... one month from today. October 21."
As mentioned, the new version removes all references to Justice League. However, it doesn't include footage from Zack Snyder’s Justice League, either.
Instead, it replaces the Steppenwolf scene with a shot of a lightning bolt hitting people in a cave-like structure, which appears to be from Black Adam. The update was well-received by many users, as evidenced by the following tweets:
The situation opens an interesting question regarding the broader DCEU:
Is Zack Snyder's Justice League Canon To The DCEU?
The canonicity of Zack Snyder's Justice League has been an intriguing topic since before its release in 2021. The film was much better received than its predecessor (it holds a 71% "Fresh" grade on Rotten Tomatoes vs. Justice League's 39% "Rotten" score). It also offered a more in-depth exploration of its titular team due to its four-hour runtime, which would make it seem like the ideal candidate to induct into the main DCEU.
In spite of that, though, the film is not actually part of the franchise's continuity. This was confirmed by director Zack Snyder himself, who explained during a March 2021 interview with Deadline:
"Warner Bros told me when I started this process that they consider the theatrical cut as canon to their DC Universe that they want to build out and that my version will always be like this outworld non-canon version. I’m like, fine, you know, it's your IP, it's your universe, of course, that's your decision. At the time we made the movie, when the story was written and sort of developed, the plan was to make two more 'Justice League' movies while these other solo films were spinning out."
Furthermore, Rolling Stone revealed in August 2022 that WB considers 2017's Justice League the official version of the film: "In a telling sign of how far the studio is looking to distance itself from Snyder, a source says documentary filmmaker Leslie Iwerks recently asked to license clips from the 2021 'Justice League' for a film on the history of DC and was told there is only one 'Justice League': the 2017 incarnation."
Black Adam flies into theaters on October 21, 2022.