It took 15 years, now Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s dream project Black Adam can finally be seen in the cinema. One of DC’s most powerful characters, the anti-hero aims to do nothing less than fundamentally change the balance of power in the DC cinematic universe. Can he do it? We watched the movie.
Battle for the land of Kahndaq
Is he a hero or an anti-hero? Black Adam doesn’t know that for sure. Source: Warner Bros. Since the rare and powerful mineral eternium was discovered in its soil several thousand years ago, the people of the land of Kahndaq have been exploited by foreign rulers. Only once has a hero managed to break this cycle. His name is Teth-Adam and he is believed to have lived 5,000 years ago. At the beginning of Black Adam (buy now), the savior of yesteryear is considered a myth that few people in Kahndaq, occupied by the Intergang mercenary army, believe in anymore.
One who craves a hero like Teth-Adam is young Amon, whose mother seeks the legendary Sabbac Crown to transport the dangerous artifact to a safe place. In the process, she accidentally resurrects Teth-Adam, who doesn’t have much in common with his legend. He’s anything but a hero, doesn’t shy away from killing the bad guys, and otherwise has a rather archaic moral code. However, he is also very powerful, which calls no other than Amanda Waller to the scene. In order to render Black Adam harmless, she rounds up the Justice Society. The Heroes Hawkman, Dr. Fate, Cyclone and Atom Smasher are supposed to stop the supposed hero.
Black Adam vs the rest of the world
Together with her allies, Cyclone is tasked with stopping Black Adam. Source: Warner Bros. You can tell the Black Adam story is tight. So dense even and enriched with so many conflicts that even part of it would have been enough. Because Black Adam’s personal conflicts – his argument with the Justice Society about what justice should look like, the question of whether he can and wants to be a good role model for Amon, or the dark sides of his past – are simply much more interesting than the fight against Intergang and their rule over Kahndaq.
At some points, Black Adam’s battles against hordes of faceless mercenaries almost feel like something the creators put into the film because that’s the way DC superhero movies are supposed to be, and somehow you have to show that Black Adam can handle it with ease Superman could accommodate.
A hero befitting the DC Universe
Hawkman leads the Justice Society. Source: Warner Brothers When asked whether they want a sophisticated and socially critical drama or a colorful comic action film, the Black Adam team clearly answered “Yes!” responded. That’s something a lot of DC movies struggle with, though. And you have to acknowledge that Black Adam wants to be more than just the next movie in the chaotic DC Extended Universe (DCEU). Again and again, the heroes are confronted with the question of whether good and evil are actually as easy to distinguish as comic books would have you believe.
About the Justice Society, which unites four heroes with diverse backgrounds. By sending none other than Amanda Waller to the war zone, Hawkman and his allies are suddenly seen by the local population as imperialist aggressors.
And Black Adam himself is not the hero that the residents of Kahndaq hope for. Again and again he disappoints the expectations that others have of him because he is simply too angry and too traumatized by his past. “Look here”, the film seems to call out to the audience in these scenes, “we can also be demanding” – only to then present a ten-minute action sequence out of nowhere, in which half a district is cremated.
Black Adam: Our verdict
Black Adam and Hawkman don’t like each other. Source: Warner Bros. There are really only two things that are really problematic about Black Adam. For one thing, the film’s finale is almost a quarter of an hour too long, including the badly animated CGI army that wants to destroy the world – which is also a typical DC problem.
On the other hand, there are the rock songs that appear again and again in the film. When James Gunn accompanied Guardians of the Galaxy with hits from the 70s and 80s, it was funny and very appropriate – also because Gunn thought about the songs. Having Black Adam wipe out a mercenary army on The Rolling Stones’ “Paint it Black” isn’t nearly as funny as it might have sounded on paper.
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Black Adam: The members of the Justice League of America in action!
Hawkman and the members of the JSA in Black Adam: The Justice Society of America battle Dwayne Johnson’s antihero in a new clip from the DC movie.
So is Black Adam the game changer it was advertised as? Definitely not. Is it the best DCEU movie of all time? Neither. But it’s solid entertainment, even a little thought-provoking at times, and establishes a few new characters that we’d love to see in future DC movies. And that’s actually quite enough for a film like this – we only have to talk about the arbitrary use of rock songs again.