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CinemaCon 2022 Day 2 Recap: Warner Bros. Pictures, DC Universe, The Flash, Aquaman, and Black Adam

April 28, 2022 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
CinemaCon - Warner Bros. Presentation - The Rock Dwayne Johnson Image Credit: Eric Charbonnneau/Warner Bros.

CinemaCon 2022 continued with big studio presentations on Day 2. The major event for Tuesday was the Warner Bros. Pictures Studio Presentation, featuring what’s next for major DC Universe franchises, and a whole lot more.

After the opening remarks, Warner Bros. dropped a big announcement. The Batman 2 was officially announced, with Matt Reeves returning to direct the sequel, along with Robert Pattinson reprising his role as Batman/Bruce Wayne. Matt Reeves made a live, onstage appearance, thanking the fans, exhibitors, and theater owners for their support of The Batman.

This is great news. While The Batman was not my favorite film starring the Caped Crusader, I think Reeves and Pattinson did an overall good job, and I’d like to see them get another installment.

There was some talk on the continuation of the Dune film series with Dune Part 2. Unfortunately, there were no major big reveals on Dune during the presentation, but director Denis Villeneuve did appear in a taped video message. He apologized for not making it to the convention, but it’s due to him being deep in pre-production on Dune Part 2.

So, it looks there’s nothing to worry about right now for the Dune film series. I believe the franchise is in good hands, and I’m happy to know the next installment is moving forward despite concerns over the Discovery merger. I’m very much looking forward to Dune Part 2.

Aisha Tyler took the stage to take over hosting duties for the panel. She introduced a showcase for the works of filmmaker Baz Luhrmann who then comes out to talk about his new upcoming film, Elvis, a biopic on the rock legend Elvis Aaron Presley. He also joked about a stage play being shown in his cinema reel, which was funny.

Luhrmann describes the film as not a biopic but about America in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. It will be told through the lens of Elvis Presley’s less than scrupulous manager, Col. Tom Parker, who is portrayed by the one and only Tom Hanks. Meanwhile, Presley himself is portrayed by Austin Butler, as this appears to be a potentially major breakout role for him.

Luhrmann explained that the film will go across the many different phases of Presley’s career and include all the notable classics. A sizzle reel for the film was shown. It was mainly built around a major concert for Elvis in 1956. Presley is shown to be a bit of a rebel and rulebreaker in his defiance of a police officer who tells him not to even wag a finger, and that’s the first thing he does onstage.

The concert sequence shows that the film will very much be shot with Luhrmann’s trademark visual style. It feels a bit trippy at times as the crowd for the concert, especially the women, are going nuts for Presley. Eventually, Parker calls for security to take Elvis off the stage, and the fans nearly start a riot. The rest of the reel was a montage showcasing the film.

As an Elvis Presley biopic, this one definitely has my interest. That said, I’m not sure if Luhrmann’s style was the best fit for the subject matter. I do think Austin Butler is likely a good casting choice for Presley, and this could be a major breakout role for him.

After the sizzle reel, Butler joined the stage for some short Q&A with Luhrmann and Tyler. Luhrmann constantly gushed about Butler’s performance. He also noted that if you thought the footage resembled a type of superhero film, that’s because Luhrmann also views Elvis much like a superhero, and he goes on a similar journey as a hero who rises, is brought low, but manages to rise again.

Austin Butler talked about his comprehensive research for the part. He was focused on finding the humanity in the role. Also, he wanted to make sure his performance was authentic for the different periods of Presley’s career, such as when his voice started to sound different, and he started moving differently. Luhrmann also notes how the picture was almost in danger of getting shut down during the pandemic, during which Tom Hanks was diagnosed with COVID-19 early on. He credited Butler for helping the project by being willing to stay in Australia.

Eventually, the panel moved into the DC Universe, with the upcoming new installments based on the iconic heroes of DC Comics. First up was The Flash. It doesn’t look like there are any fancy subtitles anymore, as the movie is being simply called The Flash now. No cast and crew members made any live appearances, but a new sizzle reel for the film with a lot of new footage was shown.

Current issues with past Zack Snyder adaptations and the real-life tribulations of star Ezra Miller aside, I think the footage looked interesting. Barry Allen’s Flash costume has been updated. Now, it looks less overly busy as the Justice League version. The armor panels have been stripped off. It looks more like the New 52 costume, but the Speed Force energy and lighting bolt and light piping effects appear to be running through the suits, almost like it’s being pumped with Speed Force energy.

The sizzle reel didn’t offer a great sense of what’s actually happening in the plot. There was a video message from Barry about forces being attracted to one another like magnets. There’s a shot of what appeared to be a long-haired Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) from behind opening up a secret door in a library to reveal a Bat-Cave. Lights gradually come up on sets of Bat-suits. There did appear to be a shot of Ben Affleck’s Batman driving a Bat-cycle. Also, it looks like Michael Shannon is back as General Zod. It appeared he was flying a Kryptonian airship into battle. I’m not completely clear on the context of Zod’s appearance in the film. There was also a bit of Sasha Calle in costume as Supergirl.

We do get a look at Michael Keaton as Batman wearing the Batsuit, sans his mask. Barry Allen asks him if he’s in. Batman says, “You wanna get nuts? Let’s get nuts.” The sizzle reel did showcase some action beats of The Flash. I do like the updates to the CG visual effects for his speed powers now. The blue filter is gone. Now, it looks to be more yellow, reddish, and orange, which makes sense for a Flash movie. The Flash movie is due to arrive on June 23, 2023.

After The Flash, the panel moves straight into a presentation for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. Jason Momoa appeared in a pre-taped video message. He apologized for not being there in person since he’s currently filming in London. He then introduced filmmaker James Wan, who did appear live in attendance for the film presentation. He introduced a behind-the-scenes featurette reel, which included some new footage.

It looks like the entire main cast are back for the sequel, including Nicole Kidman as Atlanna and Patrick Wilson as Orm. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II returns as Black Manta, who appears to be the main villain this time around. Black Manta now has even more advanced Atlantean technology at his disposal and many minions. The featurette said Black Manta is no longer human, and he seems to be affected by this ancient, supernatural force. Aquaman seeks Orm’s help to deal with Black Manta.

Randall Park appears to have a larger role as Dr. Stephen Shin in this film, and he appears to be part of Black Manta’s crew. We do get a bit of footage of Momoa in his new Aquaman suit as well. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom arrives in theaters on May 17, 2023.

The presentation transitioned to the long-awaited sequel to Shazam with Shazam: The Fury of the Gods. Most of the main cast were present, including Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, and even Helen Mirren. There was some brief Q&A with the cast about the film and what’s happening with everyone. Angel spoke about Billy Batson being at a crossroads as he’s nearing adulthood. Helen Mirren is the lead villain in the film as Hespera, who believes she’s in the right.

The sizzle reel started out focusing as Levi’s Shazam having dinner with Wonder Woman. Her face is always kept out of frame. Shazam jokes about the public wanting to see them have a romance. After she gets up to leave, when the camera is about to finally show her face, it’s the face of Djimon Hounsou as the wizard Shazam. He’s there to warn Levi’s Shazam about an impending threat of the Daughters of Atlas, led by Hespera (Mirren).

The whole Shazam family of heroes are back, including Billy’s foster family. The Daughters of Atlas have a dragon. It very much looks like the tone of the first film as an action-superhero comedy is being maintained. Levi’s Shazam even makes a joke about the Fast and Furious “family” meme while trying to trick Hespera.

Unfortunately, I didn’t see any of Mark Strong’s Dr. Sivana or Mister Mind anywhere in the trailer. I hope we see more of Mister Mind at some point. Shazam: The Fury of the Gods arrives on December 16, 2022.

Last but not least, it was time for a look at DC’s League of Super Pets and Black Adam. Star and producer Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson appeared in a video introduction in what at first appeared to The Rock in Hawaii pre-taped, but then he came out to make a surprise live appearance in person. After some banter with the crowd Johnson spoke about both of his DC films. In League of Super Pets, he voices Superman’s dog, Krypto. He’s also joined by longtime friend, Kevin Hart, who voices Batman’s dog, Ace the Bathound in the film.

DC League of Super Pets received a new trailer reveal, which offered a greater sense of the story. An evil hamster kidnaps Superman and what appears to be the other Justice League heroes. So Krypto now has to organize the other hero pets and Ace to form the League of Super Pets to save their friends.

For Black Adam, which The Rock has been attached to for over 10 years. Johnson said how they saw the explosion of the comic book superhero genre and how the past various superhero films inform this one, and they play around with shades of black, white, and grey.

According to Johnson, Black Adam in this film is like DC Universe’s “Dirty Harry.” Costars Quintessa Swindell and Noah Centineo also appeared live to talk about their roles as Cyclone and Atom Smasher. They are part of the Justice Society of America, who make their big-screen introduction in the film, and they are described as young, new recruits to the team.

A sizzle reel for the film was shown. It showcases Black Adam’s backstory as a slave who was betrayed and killed, but he was reborn with godlike powers. Johnson’s version of Black Adam appears to be a take-no-prisoners, no-nonsense type, where the ends justify the means. At one point he’s confronted by Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), who exclaims that “Heroes don’t kill people.” Black Adam simply replies, “I do.”

The action beats do show a lot of Black Adam’s extensive powers. He catches a rocket in mid-air. He has super-speed, or is possibly teleporting, and he has super-strength. The Justice Society are also there. Doctor Fate looks impressive in live-action. Pierce Brosnan as Doctor Fate spoke about Black Adam and how he has potential to be the world’s destroyer or savior. It looks like Black Adam will be a bit of an antihero of sorts for the sake of the movie.

Johnson was also given the CinemaCon Entertainment Icon of the Year Award by Toby Emmerich during the presentation. He was very humble and talked about how he’s been very lucky and fortunate, and he also praised his collaborators and people who have helped him along the way.

A bit was also done for Black Adam where the panelists had the audience perform a primal yelling roar, which they plan to use the audience for in a fight scene. Thus far, Black Adam looks promising, and I definitely intend on seeing it. I’m more excited about seeing the Justice Society of America heroes on the big screen more than anything. Black Adam arrives in theaters on October 21.

Stay tuned for more on CinemaCon 2022. Check my Twitter @Wheeljack83 this week for more live updates straight from the show.