Has the hierarchy of power changed in the DC universe?
It feels like forever ago (maybe because it was 15 years ago) but back in November 2007, The Rock was first announced to play Black Adam. Now in 2022, after the release of multiple DC universe movies (with one even being a movie connected to Black Adam in 2019’s Shazam) Black Adam is finally here! But does it recharge the fizzling DC universe, or is it all thunder and no lightning?
But you might be asking, who is the character of Black Adam, and what’s the difference between Black Adam and Shazam? The general summary that much like Billy Batson, Teth Adam was given his powers by the Wizard, Shazam. However, rather than being a traditional hero, Black Adam is an Anti-Hero like that of The Punisher. As Black Adam doesn’t hold back and is powerful enough to face off against Superman. Personally, Black Adam is one of my top 5 favorite DC heroes/villains and to say I was excited for Black Adams first movie was an understatement, but was the 15 year wait worth it?
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (Jungle Cruise, The Shallows, Orphan) Black Adam is set in the fictional city of Kahndaq, (which is culturally like Egypt) where its people are oppressed under foreign military rule. Black Adam is awakened from his near 5000-year slumber to find the world isn’t the same as it once was. Now awake, Black Adam dishes out his own form of justice and immediately catches the attention of both The Justice Society of America (JSA for short) and the people of Kahndaq.
Nonstop action smashing movie
As soon as Black Adam is awakened, the action starts and rarely slows down. With scenes that felt like they were pulled straight of out the Smallville fight from 2013’s Man of Steel, Black Adam had moments where both the audience and I were cheering on the brutality on screen. While only rated PG-13/M (the average rating for a comic book movie), Black Adam does have some moments limbs are removed, goons are vaporized and heads are split open.
Obviously, we’ve got Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson in the role of Teth Adam/Black Adam, however the supporting cast here actually keep the film from being another generic Rock film. Aldis Hodge as Carter Hall/Hawkman is both commanding when on screen and as the leader of the JSA, but also provides some moments of humour similar to that of Jason Momoa’s Aquaman. Quintessa Swindell and Noah Centineo as both Cyclone and Atom Smasher act as the new recruits to the team, providing some decent comedy relief during action packed fight scenes. However, Pierce Brosnan’s Kent Nelson/Dr Fate steals the show when on screen and goes to show this former 00 agent still knows how to act. Anytime Kent Nelson/Dr Fate was on screen I found myself physically sitting up in my seat.
A Rock Superhero movie
Being a superhero movie (and a Rock movie too) there is a load of over the top action to be had here, with our first introduction to Black Adam being electrifying (I’ll show myself out). If you’ve seen 2019’s Shazam then you already know what powers Black Adam has, but you’ve not seen them like this before. After catching the attention of the military forces that occupy Kahndaq, Amanda Waller calls in The JSA to capture and bring in Black Adam.
While the action is a key component of Black Adam, a mention must go to the costume department and soundtrack. Lorne Balfe’ Black Adam theme has a powerful yet fearful presence to it similar to that of Bear McCreary’s God of War. Kurt and Bart costume design for Black Adam was a stand out. While there are tones of Deadpool in Atom Smashers facemask and expressions (with Kurt and Bart designing the costumes in Deadpool 2), Hawkman’s wings were dominating while on the screen. Cyclone’s outfit burst with colour when she was on screen and worked great with her abilities. While Doctor Fate glistened and reflected beautifully which complimented his magical abilities. The set dressing and visually loud characters of the JSA were all a complete opposite with how Black Adams and his outfits drew your eyes attention.
Recharging the DCEU
While I can say, yes Black Adam provided a much-needed recharge to the battery of the DCEU, there were some areas that felt a bit off. Black Adam and the JSA take the centre stage for Act 1 and 2, but Act 3 does fall a bit flat. And sure the action scenes in Act 3 are entertaining, the main villain and their plot does feel like an afterthought to Black Adam vs The JSA.
The Rock also is… Well the Rock in some scenes during Black Adam. Sure he’s not acting like Maui from Moana or Frank Wolff from Jungle Cruise, but there are moments where he doesn’t seem to be acting like the Anti-Hero of Black Adam. We’ve seen The Rock pretend to be Danny DeVito in Jumanji: The Next Level (which was hilarious in some instances in my opinion), so we know he can act but during some scenes in Black Adam, it was just the Rock in a superhero outfit. Thankfully these moments in the film didn’t linger for too long, because as soon as the scene started to feel a little stale Pierce Brosnan and Aldis Hodge were back onscreen.
Magneto VS Black Adam
My final gripe with Black Adam might be more of a nit-pick, but Black Adam wasn’t portrayed negatively in any real way. Where my experiences reading the comics, Black Adam can somewhat resemble the Marvel Comics character Magneto. You as the reader (or if watching the movies) understand that Magneto is the villain, but you can understand what his motivations are and can see yourself potentially siding with him.
Where the same can somewhat be said for Black Adam in that he’ll have no hesitation killing and protecting the people of Kahndaq, but in the film there wasn’t any real negative portrayal to his character. Even his origin story, while heavily inspired by the New 52 (just like 2019’s Shazam) was altered to make Black Adam more likeable. Black Adam didn’t also overly feel stuck up like he has in some previous iterations too but acted more like Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy being a bit clueless to the modern world.
Black Adam does however bring up a great point. When the JSA arrives trying to bring in Black Adam, which was a point touched on during Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice of heroes entering in foreign countries and trying to enforce laws. The topic isn’t forced down the audience’s throat, but its handled rather tastefully and also managed quite well from both supporting characters and Black Adam.
Black Adam is a fun popcorn flick that not only has a fantastic multicultural and diverse cast but is supported by the great Justice Society. While yes it does feel like a generic Rock action film during some moments. Black Adam does provide a jump start to the dying battery of the DCEU. With a decent first entry into the hopefully growing Black Adam mythos and continuing DCEU, I hope we get more films like this and hopefully without a 15-year gap in-between.
And for those wondering, yes, you’ll want to stay around for the mid credit scene!
A big thanks to Dudi who went to the Black Adam premier and reviewed it for us. If you want to check out more of his awesome reviews and gaming content, you can head on over to his channel here -> https://www.youtube.com/c/DudiReviews