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“The Rock” on Repeat: Actor Dwayne Johnson Gets the Boot Again, This Time From Disney’s Competitor

actor dwayne johnson and exit sign
Credit: DC Studios/Bryan Bowan Smith/Canva

It hasn’t been the best year for actor Dwayne Johnson, who has gotten the boot yet again–although this time, with a twist.

It’s been a heck of a year for the former WWE superstar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the professional wrestler who hung up his belt to become a highly sought-after Hollywood actor. In late April, online news outlets were abuzz about a lawsuit against Johnson that alleged he had played the part of the mastermind in a wild kidnapping conspiracy against a former female wrestler. The news of such allegations was shocking to some and a bit strange to others, who began to take a deeper look at the related court documents, which told a crazy tale of a failed marriage, a bitter divorce steeped in anger, child custody violations, and retail chains like Home Depot, Victoria’s Secret, and Starbucks–none of which had any ties to Dwayne Johnson, mind you.

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Credit: Essentially Sports

When news of the off-the-wall lawsuit against Johnson first broke, the actor remained silent on the topic. But as the number of strange details in the case continued to grow, and rumors swirled about the actor getting the cold shoulder from Disney, The Rock finally commented publicly, vowing to clear his name in the headlines. But the fallout continued from there, as Johnson’s television sitcom, Young Rock, was axed by the NBC network.

Young Rock - NBC.com

Credit: NBC Universal

For months, it seemed there was no end in sight to Dwayne Johnson’s string of bad luck, as some of it had begun before news of the lawsuit broke–bad luck that included multiple box office flops and an ugly and very public rift between Johnson and company execs regarding the success (or lack thereof) of DC’s Black Adam film. Then, like the silence that follows a massive storm, the ridiculous lawsuit against Johnson was dropped, and things began to look up for the actor again.

Johnson has had roles in some of Hollywood’s most lucrative films and franchises, including the role of Luke Hobbs in The Fast and the Furious franchise. He’s currently the fifth-highest-paid actor in all of Hollywood, amassing a net worth of more than $800 million. He got his break into the acting arena when he appeared opposite actor Brendan Fraser in The Mummy Returns (2001) and continued his career with films like The Scorpion King (2002), DOOM (2005), The Game Plan (2007), Get Smart (2008), Race to Witch Mountain (2009), Tooth Fairy (2010), Moana (2016), and Jungle Cruise and Red Notice, both which debuted in 2021. Johnson even has a brand-new holiday film, Red One, to be released in late fall 2023.

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Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt in Disney’s “Jungle Cruise” (2021)/Credit: Disney

So far, Grammy Awards have alluded the former wrestler and father of three, even though many of his films have been very successful.

But on Monday, Johnson once again confirmed that DC Studios has dropped his character–Black Adam–from the DC Universe going forward. When asked about the decision to drop the ancient superhero from the DC’s storytelling efforts, CEO James Gunn said the character “doesn’t fit” with their plans for the DC Universe going forward.

Johnson has been very frank and open about the failed lift-off for the Black Adam character within the DC Universe, and this week, he gave a more in-depth explanation of his thoughts related to the reasons behind Gunn’s decision to abandon Black Adam on Peacock’s Hart to Heart show with Kevin Hart.

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Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam/Credit: DC Studios

“I think that Black Adam got caught in a vortex of new leadership,” the famed wrestling champ-turned-Hollywood actor explained during an episode of the Hart to Heart show hosted by comedian and actor Kevin Hart. “At that time when we were creating Black Adam, there were so many changes in leadership.”

In May 2021, AT&T’s WarnerMedia and Discovery Inc. announced their plans to join forces, and in early April 2022, after filming for Black Adam (2022), starring Dwayne Johnson as the ancient superhuman, had wrapped, the merger was complete, resulting in the formation of a new entertainment venture called Warner Bros. Discovery. The company’s portfolio includes Discovery Channel, Warner Bros. Entertainment, CNN, HBO, Cartoon Network, Fandango, and New Line Cinema, as well as streaming services Discovery+ and HBO Max and film franchises like Batman and Harry Potter. The entity also owns DC Studios.

warner bros. discovery ownership and logos

Credit: Warner Bros. Discovery/DC Universe/Canva

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In October 2022, the newly-formed multi-billion-dollar entertainment announced the installation of James Gunn and Peter Safran as co-CEOs of DC Studios, only days after Black Adam made its theatrical debut. But in January 2023, DC Universe Chapter One was announced, and the Black Adam character, brought to life by Dwayne Johnson, was missing from the line-up.

“You have people coming in who creatively, fiscally, are going to make decisions that you may not agree with philosophically,” Johnson told Kevin Hart. “I think Black Adam was one movie that got caught in that web of new leadership.”

He continued, describing the disappearance of the DC character as “one of the biggest mysteries throughout the business,” as he referred to audiences who liked Black Adam’s “diverse superhero portfolio,” as well as a post-credits scene involving Henry Cavill’s Superman persona.

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Credit: DC Studios

Per GamesRadar:

Black Adam was largely regarded as a disappointment at the box office, grossing $393 million. Despite that, it did outperform both Shazam: Fury of the Gods ($133 million) and The Flash ($268 million).

“We look at and respect the bottom line economically, but also, creating opportunity, creating things that are fresh and delivering for the audience, which is our number one boss,” Johnson said to Hart. “When that wasn’t looked through that lens, it makes things a little bit more challenging.”

The silver lining in the story is that the actor, Dwayne Johnson, has not personally been axed by DC Studios–just the character he worked on bringing to the silver screen for more than 15 years.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!