By Cristian Reyes, Nov. 1, 2022
Black Adam released in theaters on Oct. 21 as lead actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and DC studios look to bring immense hype to its cinematic universe. With the success of “The Batman” and “The Suicide Squad,” “Black Adam” looks to carry over that success and set up future films.
Black Adam, played by Johnson, is an extremely powerful antihero from DC comics. Johnson was confirmed to play the antihero in 2014 and eight years later, fans finally got the chance to see him in this role. In this film, Johnson plays a much different character that moviegoers are accustomed to seeing him play. Johnson plays the antihero as someone out of time, cold and very menacing. The film establishes Black Adam as a dominant and ruthless superhuman early in the film. This allows the spectators to decide for themselves whether the antihero is someone to root for.
The movie takes place in the fictional country, Kahndaq, which is set in the Middle East and home to the titular character. Kahndaq is not in the best of conditions, so when Black Adam is brought back to life, the country looks to him as their hope.
Black Adam then meets the other main characters of the film who attempt to help him understand that he is now in modern Kahndaq. He meets a teenage boy who is a fan of the heroes in this universe such as Batman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman. This character got a little tiring as this trope has been done already in the film “Shazam” that also takes place in this universe. He also ends up taking a bit of the runtime which takes away from other more fascinating characters.
Later, the film introduces the Justice Society, a group of heroes that consist of Doctor Fate, Atom Smasher, Hawkman and Cyclone. They are ordered by Amanda Waller, from “The Suicide Squad,” to confront Black Adam. Not only does this help connect this film to prior films, but it also helps establish Waller as a serious power who can command heroes or villains to do what she wants.
The Justice Society is such a great addition to this film as it introduces viewers to a new set of heroes that have yet to hit the big screen. Doctor Fate is my personal favorite as his scenes illustrate how powerful and wise he can be. Similar to Doctor Strange from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he can use magic and illusions to defend himself which sets up a handful of exciting fight scenes. His costume design has to be one of the best in recent memory, which adds to an already appealing character. One problem with Fate is that his famous helmet is different than it is in video games and comics. His helmet is known to be a curse and tough to take off, but here in this film it really isn’t a problem whatsoever as he takes it off on command.
The rest of the Justice Society are also charming and have great chemistry with one another. Black Adam is tested when he comes across the Justice Society. He does struggle and is not shown to be as powerful as he was earlier in the film. It would have been much more impactful to see the antihero look even more powerful against the four heroes and easily dominate them.
The story in this film is a little simple as it takes place solely in Kahndaq. As an origin film, it focuses on Black Adam’s history and his relations to the country he is from. He also does not go through much of a story arc as he is still cold and ruthless at the end of the film, he’s just more compliant.
The action in this film is solid as they illustrate the scope of power most the heroes have. For example, Atom Smasher is a hero who can grow as tall as a skyscraper, and it looked really well done as you could even see the texture of his costume. Doctor Fate, Black Adam and Hawkman had great battle scenes including Cyclone who had unique powers and could’ve got more involved in the film.
The villain in this film is stereotypical. He begins as a side character but early on is shown to be cruel then goes on to be the main antagonist. He wants an artifact that the main characters have and wants to go back to the old ways of Kahndaq. He is one dimensional and pure evil as his purpose in this film is to fight Black Adam.
Overall, the film is not terrible, but it also isn’t fantastic. There are a lot of flaws, but it is an entertaining watch that will keep viewers in their seats. There is also a major cameo in the post credit scene that will excite DC fans.
“Black Adam” is a film that helps DC set up characters and future films while also doing its job at entertaining fans with compelling characters and intense fight scenes.
Feature image courtesy of Lauren Wong
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