Black Adam’ soars thanks to Dwayne Johnson, other cast members and strong story
The casting of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Black Adam was sheer genius.
It’s hard to imagine anyone who could play the DC Comics anti-hero with the same level of sincerity and intensity as Mr. Johnson, who’s careful to never go over the top and makes you curious about Teth-Adam, an ancient, powerful man who is determined to deliver his brand of justice, not hesitating to kill the bad guys.
“Black Adam,” which topped the box office in its opening weekend (no surprise there), succeeds because of Mr. Johnson’s performance, as well as the addition of a couple of the earliest superheroes in DC Comics history. Like Black Adam, they date back to the 1940s: Dr. Fate/Kent Nelson, the sorcerer who can see the future and is played brilliantly by Pierce Brosnan, and Hawkman/Carter Hall, portrayed with good intensity by Aldis Hodge.
Hawkman and Dr. Fate are two of the original members of the Justice Society. And they are ideal characters to be in a movie with Black Adam. Hawkman is the reincarnation of Prince Khufu. And Kent Nelson, aka Dr. Fate, was an archaeologist who stumbled onto the helmet that gives him power (via the unseen god Nabu).
They’re joined by two of the young members: Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo), who can grow into a giant but needs some training, and Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell), who controls the wind and tornados. Both have ties with people previously affiliated with the Justice Society.
The movie begins with the oppression of slaves in ancient Kahndaq, where slave Teth Adam gained mighty powers but was imprisoned after using his power for revenge. He’s resurrected by Adrianna Tomaz (Sarah Shahi) in modern Kahndaq. Along with her young son Amon (Bodhi Sabongui) and others, Adrianna is trying to free their country from foreign mercenaries.
In DC Comics history, Black Adam was originally a villain, with the same powers as the original Captain Marvel (the boy who becomes a hero by yelling “Shazam!,” not the young woman in the Marvel Studios movies). But in this century, DC Comics has turned him into an anti-hero who’s determined to protect the people of his beloved Kahndaq, no matter what he has to do.
Longtime DC Comics fans will love the presence of the Justice Society, which is the first superhero team in the history of comics. Better known is the Justice League of America, which was a Silver Age comics book reboot of the Justice Society of America, but the addition of young characters in the late 20th century and early 21st century has made the Justice Society a multi-generational team.
After the success of “Black Adam,” DC Comics/Warner Bros. would be wise to produce a Justice Society movie.
The characters are still relevant, thanks to comic books and the current “Stargirl” series on The CW. Longtime comic book fans know the heroes from the Justice Society were reinvented during the Silver Age reboot, and later the older and younger versions existed in parallel universes.
In addition to the Justice Society, there’s another fun connection from other films from the DC Extended Universe movies. That won’t be spoiled here. And a second, great connection comes after the start of the closing credits. Remember, never leave a superhero movie early!