This Friday, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s decades long dream of bringing DC Comics character Black Adam to the silver screen finally becomes a reality. But will it sell? Despite a range of challenges, Warner (DC’s parent company) is pulling out all the promotional and marketing stops aimed at ensuring exactly that.
The primary challenge here? A movie filled with “B” level characters much of the non-comic book nation have never heard of, including Hawkman, Cyclone, Atom Smasher, and Dr. Fate (at least played by a recognizable actor in Pierce Brosnan). Similarly, these superheroes make up the Justice Society (perhaps familiar to some degree to viewers of CW’s “Star Girl). Considering the flop that was “The Justice League” (with Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman) and one might understand why this project took so long to get off the ground amid fingernail biting Warner Executives.
Enter: The Rock. Perhaps the biggest, well-known movie star in the world, his involvement in and long-time support for Black Adam (of the “Shazam” comic book and movie patheon) is, what we call in the business of PR and marketing, a “no brainer” — like selling turkeys at Thanksgiving or a new men’s cologne with Brad Pitt as spokesperson. People are going to pay attention, come, and open up their wallets.
Adding to the fire are the tried and true promotional tools such as CG-filled and awe-inspiring trailers, a range of character toy tie-ins, and a massive billboard campaign, the latter including a massive billboards take-over in Times Square. The trailers and billboards, in fact, are generating superhero movie buzz unlike anything seen since 1989’s “Batman” with Michael Keaton.
Perhaps most interesting is the next-level use of the medium from whence these characters hail: The comic book. Comics with pre-storyline movie lead ins are nothing new and DC does have one for this go ‘round. This approach is being augmented, however, with a range of additional comics– each book focused on introducing the un-indoctrinated to the likes of Hawkman and the others. Moreover, classic Justice Society of America graphic novels are being republished to coincide with the overall push.
Despite poor early reviews, the chance of this movie doing well would seem fairly “rock solid” – even if the flick offers sizzle over story. Only time will tell, of course, whether the box office returns come back Dwayne Johnson-sized. Either way, the success of “Black Adam” could determine whether future DC Comics character movies are able to leap from the concept storyboard and onto moving pictures.