‘Black Adam’ Producer Hiram Garcia on ‘Not Going Soft’ and Crafting a ‘Tough Matchup’ for Superman

In an interview with TheWrap, the producer also talks about the Dwayne Johnson film’s theatrical window and seeing the first director’s cut

Black Adam DC Fandome 2020
DC FanDome

When Dwayne Johnson makes his DC debut in next year’s “Black Adam,” the hierarchy of power in the DC universe will forever change. At least, that’s the promise Johnson and producer Hiram Garcia are making to fans who are eagerly anticipating Johnson’s first blush with the superhero genre.

Johnson has been flirting with the DC universe since 2007, and it’s been a long road to getting “Black Adam” made. The titular character that Johnson plays is an antihero, someone unafraid to get his hands dirty, and that’s exactly the approach the filmmakers took to bringing “Black Adam” to life. In fact, that was the whole point of the first-look footage revealed at the virtual DC FanDome event in October.

“Our goal was to not only excite the fans but to let the world know the tone we are going for with this film,” Garcia told TheWrap in an interview pegged to the release of “Red Notice” this Friday on Netflix. “Even though the clip is short, the moment you see that the first person who approaches him doesn’t live past that moment lets you know, ‘OK, they aren’t going soft with Black Adam. He means business.’ We wanted to make sure people know that our tone was clearly different than some of the other movies, but also that we’re making sure we maintain the edge that Black Adam should have. That’s the exciting thing about that scene, it lets fans know, ‘They’re not going soft with this guy. He’s a killer for sure.’”

Production on the film – which also stars Noah Centineo, Aldis Hodge, Sarah Shahi, Quintessa Swindell and Pierce Brosnan – wrapped over the summer, and Garcia (who serves as president of production at Seven Bucks Productions) said the project benefitted from the learning curve of making a movie during COVID that the Seven Bucks team encountered on “Red Notice.” That Netflix movie got about halfway through filming before the COVID shutdown, and when they returned to resume production, they had to adjust to a new normal.

“We were prepping ‘Black Adam’ through the entirety of working on ‘Red Notice,’” Garcia said. “And the benefit that ‘Black Adam’ had was everything that we were learning, testing and figuring out with regards to filming in this new pandemic landscape, ‘Black Adam’ was benefiting from, because we were able to implement that knowledge into ‘Black Adam.’”

Another DC film that was teased at DC Fandome was “The Flash,” which will introduce the idea of the multiverse to the DC universe as it brings together Michael Keaton’s Batman and Ben Affleck’s Batman in the same movie. When asked whether “Black Adam” will address this multiverse idea, Garcia said he was unsure, but noted that “everything in that DC universe we like to think of is connected somehow.”

Warner Bros.

Postproduction on “Black Adam” is well underway and Garcia has seen Jaume Collet-Serra’s early director’s cut of the film, which he said is impressive despite its lack of any finished visual effects. Fans still have to wait until next summer to see the full scope of Johnson’s DC film, but while Warner Bros. has announced a return to an exclusive theatrical window in 2022, Garcia said he thinks “Black Adam” will adhere to “the newer models coming out.” Indeed, while the theatrical window of exclusivity was traditionally 90 days before the pandemic, Warner Bros. struck a deal with AMC Theaters for a 45-day window before any WB movie heads to HBO Max in 2022, slicing that older window in half.

Read the full portion of our interview with Garcia as it pertains to “Black Adam” below. Warner Bros. will release the film on July 29, 2022.

Where are you guys at in postproduction on “Black Adam?” What’s the status?

Hiram Garcia: We just saw the director’s cut, and I’m very excited with what we have. I love Jaume. He’s such a visionary. He’s incredibly brilliant. From day one, he has always understood this character and what he wanted to do with it. When you see a director’s cut, typically, that’s kind of the movie at its roughest form. There are no effects, it’s the first thing they’ve assembled after you’ve wrapped. So, when the movie’s still big, fun and enjoyable even though you’re looking at tons of green screen, people on harnesses and robotic arms, you know you’re in a good place.

We’re very fired up. I can’t wait for fans to see this. I think people are going to have a blast with this character. DJ is absolutely awesome as Black Adam. If there was ever anyone born to play a role, it’s him as Black Adam. Seeing that and then the entire Justice Society together, it was awesome.  I’m excited for you to see it. I think you’re going to really dig it. This is something I’ve always wanted to make, and to be here now, deep into it, is really special.

Well, “Red Notice” was obviously interrupted by COVID, but you guys kind of got that experience there. What was the experience like of shooting the entirety of “Black Adam” with those new protocol?

Garcia: Everything was shifted at the time. The previous schedule before COVID had us rolling into “Black Adam” shortly after wrapping “Red Notice.” Everything got pushed, obviously because of the pandemic and the delay. We were prepping “Black Adam” through the entirety of working on “Red Notice” and the benefit that “Black Adam” had was everything that we were learning, testing and figuring out with regards to filming in this new pandemic landscape, “Black Adam” was benefiting from, because we were able to implement that knowledge into “Black Adam.”

Fortunately, even though “Red Notice” was such a challenge to film because we were basically the first big movie to shoot in the pandemic, we were able to learn so much. So by the time “Black Adam” came around we had a ton of experience. Add in then that vaccines were now out, and our entire production was in a much better place. We knew how to do it. We had a great testing regimen. We understood how to properly utilize PPE and take care of our crew so that we were giving enough breaks so they could step outside into the fresh air and take the masks off periodically.

“Black Adam” was actually a very seamless process. It was much easier than you would think, but it’s because we had lived through it just a few months earlier at the toughest scale with “Red Notice.” We were really fortunate of where “Black Adam” fell in relation to “Red Notice” because it made the “Black Adam” production that much easier.

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That’s great to hear. At DC Fandome as well, we got to look at “The Flash,” which is introducing this idea of the multiverse. Will “Black Adam” address that multiverse idea or is it pretty standalone?

Garcia: I don’t know if we’re going to address it, but everything in that DC universe we like to think of is connected somehow. And so the multiverse exists around our characters as well in our world. Not that you’re necessarily going to feel that in our movie, but it is very much a thing, right? We know that there’s going to be some other multiverse factors in there that we know exist. It’s just a matter of when we start to play with it or lean into it, but we’re excited for that Flash movie. Our friends are making it, we know how big and ambitious that movie is and the vision DC has for it. We’re very supportive of it. Andy Muschietti is such a brilliant director. You couldn’t have picked a better guy to do that movie. We’re excited to see it as well. But I do think anytime you’re dealing with any DC movie, fans can always assume that there’s multiverse factors, whether you see it or not, that exist around it.

We know Warner Brothers is going back to theatrical exclusives. Do you know what kind of window “Black Adam” will have?

Garcia: I’m not positive yet. I have an idea, but I don’t want to quote a number that gets taken out of context. But I think the best version of our industry is having a nice theatrical run coupled with a faster delivery mechanism allowing fans to watch at home if they prefer it that way. We’re a consumer-based industry, so I think you always win when the audience has the ultimate flexibility in terms of choice.

I’m imagining that our version of a theatrical release is probably going to adhere to the newer models coming out. I’m not exactly sure what those numbers are, because I think they do tend to fluctuate a little bit, but we’ll be playing within that window.

That makes sense. Hypothetically, if you were making a Black Adam movie, would you want that to eventually lead to a showdown with Superman at some point down the road?

Garcia: The truth is, there’s a reason why we say that when Black Adam comes into the DC universe, the hierarchy of power is going to change. And there’s very few established figures who would be able to go toe to toe with Black Adam. I think as established right now in the DC cinematic universe, you look at Wonder Woman and at Superman as two characters that would have a shot, maybe if they work together, because hey…it’s Black Adam, right? Some might look toward Shazam as an option or an equal, but these guys are very different. Shazam’s powers come from Greek gods, whereas Black Adam’s come from Egyptian gods, so there’s some reasoning there to believe that this is partly why Black Adam seems as powerful as he is. When it comes to Supes we all know there’s two major weaknesses for him. It’s kryptonite and it’s magic. And when you’ve got a character like Black Adam who is made up of magic coupled with his inherent aggression, and you have a character like Superman who historically pulls his punches, that’s going to be a tough matchup for Superman. I think fans would want to see that.

In a perfect world, of course I’d want to see the best and the most exciting try and take on the force of nature we have in Black Adam and the way Dwayne portrays him. But yeah, I think right now as established, those are the two characters you figure who have the best shot at being able to survive. Maybe. Who knows? But I’m always going to put my money on Black Adam, because I’m telling you, in our world, he’s the top dog. That’s how it goes. And everyone feels the ripples and effect of him coming into the universe, and he’s the kind of presence that makes everyone go, “Uh oh.”