Dwayne Johnson hasn’t talked about Black Adam since last year, but that doesn’t mean the (sort of) Shazam! spin-off isn’t still in the works. In fact, Warner Bros. has just found an unlucky young man for Johnson to beat up and zap with lightning bolts, though it’s unclear why anyone would volunteer to get destroyed by Black Adam. Either way, the unlucky young man is none other than To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before breakout Noah Centineo, who The Hollywood Reporter says will be joining Black Adam as a DC Comics C-lister (and even that might be generous) named Atom Smasher. No, he’s not the guy who killed Ray Palmer, he’s basically a big strong guy who can make himself bigger and stronger by controlling his molecular structure. If you’ve ever seen a tall dude with a full face mask and an atom on his chest in the background of a Justice League fight scene, it was probably Atom Smasher.
It’s also worth saying here that, for once, there’s really no need to assume the studio is lying about this. There aren’t too many famous DC characters associated with Black Adam other than Shazam, and we know Centineo isn’t playing Shazam, so there’s no point in wondering if this is a bit of subterfuge and he’s secretly playing someone more famous than Atom Smasher. Unless, of course, that’s what they want us to think.
Black Adam is being directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, who also directed Johnson in Jungle Cruise, and while we don’t know many specifics about the movie, Johnson has repeatedly implied that Black Adam is a good guy—even though he’s really not. Hell, the teaser poster that Johnson shared back in November had him hovering over a skeleton and surrounded by dark clouds, which is not traditionally a good guy look. Whether Johnson eventually embraces his character’s dark, tyrannical impulses or not, Black Adam is supposed to be released in December of 2021, with Shazam! 2 (and any potential crossovers between them) coming a few months later in April of 2022. Given the ongoing Hollywood shutdown, though, who knows if those dates will stick.