Fans were excited when Person of Interest star Sarah Shahi was named as the actor who would play Adrianna Tomaz in Black Adam, the Dwayne Johnson-fronted Shazam! spinoff coming to theaters next year. The movie, which will pit Black Adam and Adrianna against the Justice Society of America and Intergang, has been one of the most anticipated DC films in years, having been in development almost as long as most fans can remember. The film will be the first time Johnson — one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, and an impressive physical specimen — will play a superhero in live action (although he will also appear in DC’s upcoming Super Pets movie, which comes out two months before Black Adam).
The character, who in the comics and on TV has previously appeared as the heroine Isis, was created for the old Shazam/Isis Hour before coming to the comics. Her modern version appeared in 52, and was reworked somewhat. Later, a version of Tomaz — named Zari Tomaz, played by Tala Ashe — was introduced on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. That version had the “Isis” name removed, due to the existence of the terrorist group known by that name that was in the headlines at the time of her introduction.
“You know what? I actually tanked the audition for Sex/Life, and I had to put myself on tape five times,” Shahi told The Hollywood Reporter. “So Sex/Life was probably the hardest casting process I’ve ever been in, whereas Black Adam was the easiest casting process. The universe definitely gave me a little kiss on the cheek when I got this one. While I was filming Sex/Life, I put myself on tape in Toronto for a movie I knew nothing about; I didn’t even know the title of it. So I auditioned with two very nondescript scenes, and then the world shut down. So the next thing I knew, I got a phone call, saying, ‘Remember that movie you went out on?’ and I couldn’t really remember because it was a couple of months after I auditioned. But they said, ‘Well, they want to meet with you, and it’s this project called Black Adam with Dwayne Johnson.’ And it just sounded so surreal. It sounded like I was being pranked or something. It just didn’t sound real.”
There is no word yet on what role Tomaz will play in Black Adam; the film will introduce the Justice Society of America, so it’s possible she could be part of that. Given that in 52, she got her powers from Black Adam, it’s possible she could be part of the Shazam family for the purposes of the JSA.
The DC version of Isis first appeared on TV, although with the Anglicized name of Andrea Thomas. A live-action Saturday morning adventure series, The Secrets of Isis was the first-ever weekly superhero series to star a female lead. The series acted as a companion to Shazam!, with which it crossed over numerous times, and starred Joanna Cameron as Thomas, a high school science teacher who gains the ability to call upon the powers of the goddess Isis after finding an Egyptian amulet during an archeological dig in Egypt.
The Adrianna Tomaz version of the character first appeared in 52, the weekly comic book event series that ran in 2006 and 2007. She was a member of a revolutionary movement in Black Adam’s country of Kahndaq, whose beauty captivated Black Adam and so she was taken prisoner rather than killed. Ultimately she won him over to a more populist way of thinking, and he granted her a portion of his powers — again, as Isis, this time alongside Adam and her younger brother Osiris as a kind of alternate take on Shazam’s “Marvel family.” Her death later in the series would push Adam further over the edge than ever.
Joining Johnson and Shahi in the film are Aldis Hodge (Underground, The Invisible Man) as Hawkman, Noah Centineo (To All the Boys I Love Before, Charlie’s Angels) as Atom Smasher, Quintessa Swindell (Trinkets, Euphoria) as Cyclone, and Pierce Brosnan (GoldenEye, Mamma Mia!) as Doctor Fate. Uli Latukefu (Young Rock), Marwan Kenzari (The Old Guard, Aladdin) Mohammed Amer (Ramy), James Cusati-Moyer (Prodigal Son), Bodhi Sabongui (Legends of Tomorrow) have also been cast in currently unknown roles.
Black Adam, from filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra, is expected to be released in theaters on July 29, 2022.