“The hierarchy of power in the DC universe is about to change,” proclaimed Dwayne Johnson early on in the hype-cycle for Black Adam. And between battles with the Justice Society of America and secrets revealed about the DC hero’s own origins, he wasn’t totally wrong. But as the movie’s post-credits scene reveals, the hierarchy of power in the DC universe, held up by Superman, Batman, The Flash, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman, hasn’t totally changed just yet — which is just fine with Johnson. He fought tooth and nail to make sure DC’s modern universe got its due before slamming it into a wall.
[Ed. note: This post contains ending and post-credits scene spoilers for Black Adam.]
In Black Adam’s credits scene, Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller appears to Black Adam in Kahndaq’s ancient throne room via drone-mounted hologram to tell him that she expects him to stay in Kahndaq, or else. The hero of Kahndaq replies that there isn’t anyone on Earth who can stand up to him, so why we would he listen? Waller snaps back: She knows people who aren’t from Earth at all.
Cue the arrival of Superman, played by Henry Cavill himself, in the big blue suit for the first time since 2017’s Justice League (unless you count new footage shot for 2021’s Zack Snyder’s Justice League). In a friendly tone, he tells Black Adam that it’s been a while since anyone made the world as nervous as he has, and he caps the whole scene off simply and open-endedly: “We should talk.”
While the scene should make fans giddy about the possibilities of Cavill returning to the role — and recent news suggests that a Man of Steel 2 might finally be in the works — the reemergence of the Big Blue Boy Scout was no mandate for Johnson and his Black Adam creative team. This was a fan getting his wish.
“For a long time it bugged me that millions of people were vocal and wondering, and asking questions, and no one was addressing the questions,” Johnson says of Superman’s dormancy. “Even if you had answers that maybe people didn’t like, what always bugged me was... Well then, speak up! Someone speak up and talk to the fans, talk to the people, tell them what the plans are. And not only that [...] but what bugged us was you have a guy who is a great Superman and a beloved Superman, a guy who loves the mythology and knows the character so deeply, like Henry does Superman, and then on top of that, the most important thing is fans love him as Superman... He’s been on a sideline for five years, and no one’s talking about it!”
Johnson has spent nearly 20 years trying to get the Black Adam movie rolling, but when the current iteration of the project took shape five years ago, its star was adamant that the action tie into the larger DC universe — even as Warner Bros. Pictures brass was beginning to shy away from the notion of the extended “Snyderverse” established by Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice director Zack Snyder.
That led to some conflict. Not only did Johnson want to introduce Black Adam and the Justice Society of America in one bulky debut, he pushed to bring Cavill back as Superman. According to a recent report, that meant going around DC Films head Walter Hamada, who nixed the idea, and campaigning directly to WB heads Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy, who warmed to it.
“On top of all [the new introductions], we said, ‘Let’s go get the most powerful and unstoppable force in the entire universe that has been on the sidelines for five years. Let’s go and let’s fight hard to reintroduce him back into the DC universe through Black Adam.’ And that fight? We fought. We fought for a long time on our end at Seven Bucks; we weren’t gonna take no for an answer.”
And they didn’t: Eventually, Warner Bros. cleared Cavill to appear in the movie, and the scene was reportedly shot just this past September.
Does the post-credits scene preface an actual change in the hierarchy of power in the DC universe? That may depend on how well Black Adam does at the box office in its opening weekend, and what Warner Bros. looks like in the next few months. Hamada will soon step down from his position at DC, and rumors suggest De Luca will play a larger role in developing and expanding the comic book universe. Cavill might be back in a Man of Steel 2, even while Ta-Nehisi Coates and J.J. Abrams are at work on a different Superman project imagined with a Black actor in the lead. There’s also The Flash’s multiversal splintering, and in-motion plans for a direct sequel. That’s on top of Aquaman 2, due out in 2023, and the in-development Wonder Woman 3. Plus there’s The Batman 2 and Joker: Folie à Deux, which prove the universe is big enough for duplicate heroes.
Black Adam ends with the return of Superman and the words “let’s talk.” And it’s all just talk until someone asks Cavill to truly suit back up for scenes that play before the credits roll.