By: Amanda Guarragi
The hierarchy of power in the DCEU has finally changed, but we’re not so sure about the direction it’s heading after watching Black Adam. For years fans have waited for the most anticipated Dwayne Johnson project because of how much he put into his film. He was dedicated to this character from the beginning, and he fought hard to get this film made. His heart and soul went into this project, and you could see a bit of that creep through in the final product. The one thing that has always impressed me about DC films is their ability to bring forth the lore that makes these mystical heroes/villains unique to their brand. That’s exactly what was done with Teth-Adam and Kahndaq. Johnson was right in making this a standalone film because there is much to explore. It also directly correlates to the same lineage as Shazam, which is something I was eagerly awaiting.
In ancient Kahndaq, Teth Adam (Dwayne Johnson) bestowed the almighty powers of the gods. After using these powers for vengeance, he was imprisoned, becoming Black Adam. Nearly 5,000 years have passed, and Black Adam has gone from man to myth to legend. Now free, his unique form of justice, born out of rage, is challenged by modern-day heroes who form the Justice Society: Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), Dr. Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo) and Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell). The beginning of this film set the location of Kahndaq and how the people needed someone to look up to as their beacon of hope. It’s a similar narrative to Superman but presented differently. Black Adam felt a bit out of place as they were trying to integrate him into society, and it felt like he was in a different movie than the rest of the Justice Society.
Even though Teth Adam’s backstory is interesting because of the lore and heartfelt because of his relationship with his son, there wasn’t enough to build off of. Thankfully, Doctor Fate and Hawkman stepped in at the right time to add a bit more fun and flare to the movie. Brosnan and Hodge worked together perfectly and were born to play these roles. Their chemistry was great and to see both of their powers on full display was truly the best part of the movie. The one thing that felt repetitive was the number of times the JSA fought Black Adam to teach him not to kill anyone. To be able to see Doctor Fate’s power set on screen was a sight to behold. His scenes were by far the best thing in the movie, along with Hawkman’s. Without them, the movie wouldn’t have worked as well, and they saved the second half of this film. Atom Smasher fell flat and Cyclone didn’t have nearly enough to do on the team. Their characters felt underdeveloped and empty compared to Doctor Fate and Hawkman.
Black Adam feels a bit generic, recycled and a bit outdated, but the action scenes are really strong. Dwayne Johnson fought hard for this movie and for a certain character to be included as well. We should commend him for bringing new characters to the screen who may have no had their time to shine if it wasn’t for him. There are aspects of this film that did work, but ultimately the flaws outweigh the polished action scenes. They left so much to be desired and the world-building wasn’t as strong as other DCEU films. The hierarchy of power didn’t fully change, but a shift was felt. The ending of this film can give many fans hope for the future of the DCEU because Dwayne Johnson is going to fight the good fight for the fans, and that means we are in very good hands.