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[This story contains spoilers for Black Adam.]
Black Adam received a last-minute jolt thanks to a post-credits scene restoring Henry Cavill to the role of Superman.
Negotiating Cavill’s return for the first time since 2017’s Justice League was hard-fought and came down to the wire, with the Black Adam team filming Dwayne Johnson’s half of the scene not knowing if the stars would even align for Cavill’s return.
“If we can get Henry to be in it, then we’ll figure that out on a future date,” cinematographer Lawrence Sher recalls in the latest episode of The Hollywood Reporter’s Behind the Screen podcast.
The DP was informed of the Superman idea very late in the game. He recalls Black Adam director Jaume Collet-Serra describing it this way: “Let’s just quickly take this throne room set that we were working in. … We’re going to create something for Dwayne to walk into. … And we’re going to shoot it in like 10 minutes.”
Johnson’s half of the scene was filmed as the final shot on the final day of additional photography. After filming Johnson’s half, the team put together the second half of the scene with a body double and a version of John Williams’ 1978 Superman theme they found on Google. In this version of the scene, they never showed the actor’s face, only the Superman emblem on his chest. But it was clear the idea was solid.
“Watching an actor come out of a full silhouette into that, was actually goosebumps. ‘Wow, this is 100 percent going to work. Now they need to figure out if they can get the guy with the head to be there,’” Sher recalls.
Black Adam began testing the movie with that scene thrown in, and the reaction renewed the urgency to secure Cavill.
“I went to a test screening … in which they did the version without his head … and it played gangbusters,” says Sher. “Then it was like, ‘Now we got to get Henry.’”
As The Hollywood Reporter detailed in a piece published Monday, Johnson lobbied hard for Cavill’s return. (Johnson shares a manager with Cavill, who also pushed hard.) Then-DC Films boss Walter Hamada rejected the idea, as he had his own plans for Superman. Johnson went around Hamada’s back to new Warner Bros. film bosses Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy, who approved the idea.
Once the deal was done, Cavill’s half of the scene was filmed last month in London, where the actor was located. Sher did his work remotely, as he was not able to travel to the U.K., but even being on the other side of the world, Sher felt Cavill’s gravitas.
“There are certain people that are iconic as the characters that they play, and he’s really one of them,” says Sher.
The DP is now gearing up for another high-profile project, his return to the world of Todd Phillips’ Joker with Joker: Folie à Deux.
Sher reveals that the film will largely be shot on soundstages in Los Angeles, as well as on location in New York, where the project is set. Filming begins in five or six weeks’ time, with Lady Gaga joining Oscar winner Joaquin Phoenix.
“She’s going to be a really cool fit for this movie and will create a similar kind of magic that Joaquin brought by himself,” says Sher. “The combination of the two will be exactly what we hope, which is exciting, and we’ll find magic every day on set. Hopefully, we’ll also have a bit of madness in there. We like when there is a little bit of chaos.”
Listen to the full episode of the Behind the Screen podcast below.
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