Black Adam is undeniably a great phenomenon in pop culture circles. This movie had been in the works since 2007 and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson never stopped fighting for Black Adam to appear on a movie screen.
Fifteen years later, we finally have a film with a $200 million budget and a great cast. Whenever he was asked about the film The Rock would say “The hierarchy of power in the DC universe is about to change.” But is this true? Has the DC hierarchy really changed? Is it for the better or for the worse? How the hell did this movie get made after fifteen years? I will attempt to answer all of these questions, and perhaps a few more, in my Black Adam review.
[Warning: Heavy Spoilers below in my Black Adam Review]
Black Adam’s origin story
In the movie, Black Adam (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and his family were slaves in Kahndaq. His son Hurut (Jalon Christian) rebelled against the tyrannical King Ahk-Ton (Marwan Kenzari) and was punished for it. As he neared death, he was rescued by the wizard Shazam (Djimon Hounsou), gaining S.H.A.Z.A.M. powers and becoming the hero of Kahndaq.
Later, the king attacked Hurut’s family, killing his mother, in revenge for all those he had saved from Ahk-Ton’s tyranny. Hurut transferred his powers to his father Teth-Adam, saving him from mortal wounds, and thus Adam now had the powers of Shazam. He used them to kill King Ahk-Ton and all who were with him, avenging his son.
This is just the beginning of Black Adam’s story, with his powers born out of rage, loss, and sorrow from losing his family. The wizards wanted to take the powers from Adam since they were used for evil purposes. Adam killed almost all of them, leaving only Shazam the wizard alive, who imprisoned Adam.
Without going into major spoilers, Black Adam’s origin story in this film is very well written. After Black Adam is released from his prison, we see him transform from an angry out-of-control man into a slightly more human version of his past self. This reflects very well his transformation from the villain he was in the pages of history to an anti-hero who doesn’t have to be so impulsive to get what he wants.
Watching the film, I saw a very similar Black Adam to the one in the Black Adam comics. Black Adam felt like he was from the Dark Age comic series or even the Injustice 2 game. This Black Adam is not yet fully aware of his future, but when he has to face the truth that only he is responsible for his fate and can change how people see him, he decides not to be a villain.
This was a very surprising decision for me because I thought the JSA would fight it out until the end of the film, until Sabbac’s appearance in the third act, but this was not the case at all, and it surprised me.
There is also the story arc of Adrianna Tomaz (Sarah Shahi), who frees Black Adam from his prison. She’s the main reason Adam doesn’t kill every person he thinks is evil. As much as he wants to do that, she’s tries to explain to him why Kahndaq needs a protector they can rely on, who is both just and merciful. While it may be different for Black Adam, he is much more open to being good to people and freeing them from the possibility of being slaves, rather than punishing them.
The Rock’s version of Black Adam works so well because we all know he’s not entirely evil, and just because he’s been asleep for 5,000 years doesn’t necessarily mean he knows what he’s doing. While we may sometimes feel like this character is doing the same things for 2/3 of the movie, it doesn’t change the fact that he is so awesome and his relationship with JSA is perfect.
Justice Society of America makes its first official and unforgivable debut
When I first learned that the JSA would be in the film I was very excited because I am a big fan of the DC universe and the JSA is an integral part of it. We’ve never seen them in any live-action film adaptations, so I had very high expectations for their first appearance on the big screen. I never thought that the screenwriters of Black Adam (Rory Haines, Sohrab Noshirvani, and Adam Sztykiel) could think of such a perfect introduction to the Justice Society.
As we meet them, they all gather at Hawkman’s (Aldis Hodge) house to join forces to stop Black Adam and force him to surrender. They need to send him to Amanda Waller’s (Viola Davis) prison so that she can lock him up and make him regret not wanting peace.
This is the first time that Al/Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo) and Maxine/Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell) are working with the JSA. Hawkman and Kent Nelson/Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan) have known each other for a long time, as they are veterans of the original JSA.
As a team, they work great, although since this is their first time with this lineup, there are some slip-ups. When they first suit up and try to stop Black Adam, I was so excited. This is the JSA’s first-ever appearance on the big screen, and I’m there to see it happen. It felt surreal.
Hawkman, the leader of the JSA in this film, is powerful, serious, and fearless when it comes to facing someone invincible. That changes when he and Kent fight Adam for the first time because Carter has never fought someone so unpredictable, without a moral compass and so focused on what he is doing.
Of course, throughout the story, Hawkman tries to understand why the people of Kahndaq prefer Adam as their protector rather than the Justice Society or even some other heroes. This doesn’t help him work through his inner demons to stop Adam. In any case, Aldis Hodge is perfect in the role of Hawkman and I would be happy if we got a film about him in the near future.
Kent Nelson/Doctor Fate is the character I most wanted to see out of this entire JSA lineup when they were announced. Not only because he is played by Pierce Brosnan, whom everyone loves, but because Doctor Fate is one of my favorite characters in the entire DC universe. He’s nearly the most powerful character in the entire universe, and his pivotal role in this film, as is every JSA character, was very well written.
We see Kent as a broken man who sometimes can’t see the difference between the real world and all things past and future. Brosnan plays this version of Kent Nelson as being addicted to Nabu’s helmet and doesn’t go anywhere without it.
Atom Smasher and Cyclone were a big surprise to me, as I expected them to have smaller roles and not get enough screen time, but again I was wrong. They have great chemistry with Hawkman and Fate while learning more about each other. I think that after their first fight together, all that is happening in the DC universe and will happen in the future, we won’t have to wait too long for their return.
Technical stuff and visuals are one of a kind
Black Adam is not a perfect film in terms of some of Sabbac’s special visual effects or some minor scenes. Overall, this movie is visually appealing, not just for adding Black Adam’s power effects or Cyclone’s powers, but for even the smallest things when Black Adam causes chaos around him.
I know that some may complain about the effects side of the film, but you have to admit that one thing about Black Adam is amazing, which is the magic of Doctor Fate, which is very visually and excellently choreographed. I can’t wait for the behind-the-scenes footage to see how the people responsible for the visual effects create something so unique and outstanding, as we saw in Doctor Fate’s magic scenes.
Visual effects aside, I must praise every single suit in this film. Whether it’s Hawkman, Doctor Fate, Cyclone, Atom Smasher, or even the Black Adam suit, they are all very beautiful. The details, the patterns, the weathering, and the uniqueness all work perfectly and are a very great and beautiful thing to the eye.
I must say that when it comes to creating superhero suits, DC never disappoints, it doesn’t matter Whether it’s for a TV series or a big-budget movie, when you see them on the screen, they’re just perfect.
The last thing I want to mention is the soundtrack from Lorne Balfe, which was very atmospheric and impressive. When I heard some of the themes that were released before the film’s release, I thought “Wait a minute, what is this? How can this even fit into the movie?”. Well, they do, and Balfe has done a very good job creating something so special.
Each of the motifs perfectly matches the setting in which it was used, which makes the Black Adam experience even better. Some should also hear a little nod to the Justice League theme from Zack Snyder’s Justice League, which was a nice touch.
If you like the DC universe then you should definitely go see Black Adam, it’s an incredible experience, and the fact that it took fifteen years to make this film is even more amazing.
As a longtime DC fan, I’m really grateful to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for making this film and for making JSA a big part of it. Thank you for fighting for this film and thank you for changing the hierarchy of the DC universe for the better. Just make sure you stay for the post-credit stage, you won’t regret it, I guarantee it.
My Black Adam review rating:
Black Adam is currently in theaters. Have you seen it yet? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter @MyCosmicCircus If you want to know more about Black Adam after the movie, check out our Black Adam reading guide.