HomeMoviesBlack Adam Review: A Fun Superhero Film, But Not a Gamechanger

Black Adam Review: A Fun Superhero Film, But Not a Gamechanger

Photo Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

The DCEU is in quite a precarious place. The Warner Bros/Discovery merger has caused some big projects to get cancelled while some problematic stars are causing some backlash from the fanbase. Unfortunately, while the latest addition, Black Adam is a more than serviceable watch than expected, it does little to improve the wider DCEU.

The film introduces beloved DC baddie Black Adam (Dwayne Johnson), a former slave from 2600 BC Kahndaq. He is transformed into the country’s champion by the Council of Wizards to defeat the tyrannical rule. After doing so, he is imprisoned for thousands of years until he is reawakened after both rebels and oppressors walk into his tomb in search of the powerful Crown of Sabbac. With him now being in present-day Kahndaq, Black Adam’s power causes immense destruction to those that stand in his way. This catches the attention of the Justice Society, a small group of powerful heroes. The film sees Black Adam and the Justice Society working find a way to work together though to defeat a rising evil force looking to take the world back to some dark times.

One of the big worries going into Black Adam was that its titular villain was going to be portrayed too much as a hero, but the film does a better job than expected keeping Black Adam as a destructive anti-hero. The action certainly showcases Black Adam as deadly with some of the boundary-pushing kills which highlights the brutality he employs in dealing with opposition. The punches certainly hit hard and the visuals for Black Adam’s lightning powers — as well as his other powers — are strong and surprisingly colorful. When Black Adam leans into the action, it can be a lot of fun to watch and evoke the feelings of watching someone as powerful and unrelenting as Black Adam on-screen.

It’s worth giving credit to Johnson for his performance since the film doesn’t rely much on his charm and actually carries the brooding demeanor of Black Adam. His physical toughness is matched through his performance and he’s even able to bring some subtle emotion as Black Adam’s origins and personal perspectives are divulged. Admittedly though, the film still tries to peg him too much as a hero and it’s generally done in corny ways. His relationship with a young Kahndaq boy named Amon (Bodhi Sabongui) comes off too goofy because of how Amon tries to label Black Adam as a hero even trying to get him to have a catchphrase.

The story threads surrounding “what really defines a hero” and challenging those that are labeled as heroes and villains is simply too generic and really doesn’t do anything new compared to what the DCEU has already done. Frankly, this whole idea of common people not seeing the heroes as heroes because of the destruction they still cause “saving the day” has already been beaten to death with Superman, so everything here simply feels like a retread. Not to mention, it really doesn’t elevate Black Adam’s story here since it just hits basic notes of the character coming into his own as a savior for his people rather than a ruler. It’s sense of rebellion and changing the tide really just embodies an overdone anti-hero story framing and doesn’t make a big enough mark to really feel like the DCEU has a big game changer under its belt.

The biggest surprise of Black Adam is actually how great the Justice Society members are, mainly Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan) and Hawkman (Aldis Hodge). Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell) and Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo) act as great youthful heroes and bring their own flair to the action, but definitely stay in the shadows of Fate and Hawkman. Not only do Fate and Hawkman feature epic costumes designs that rival Black Adam, himself, but they’re also characterized excellently.

Hodge brings great charm and toughness to Hawkman making him a charismatic, tough-willed, and strong leader of the Justice Society. His small rivalry with Black Adam is very enjoyable and it’s interesting to see him have this pre-established relationship with Fate. Doctor Fate is easily one of the most intriguing additions of Black Adam’s cast as Brosnan’s performance is not only strong, but also there’s some great story threads surrounding him. His ability to see the future creates some good questions surrounding the fate of characters, mainly Hawkman, that makes for good story threads throughout and he’s such an inquisitive and unique character in the DCEU’s lineup of heroes. Plus, his illusionary powers make him a blast to watch in battle thanks to the incredible visuals given to the character.

Unfortunately, while the new additions bring some good new blood to the DCEU, their presence as well as Black Adam’s only add more questions and confusion to the direction and lore of the DCEU. bGiven how much Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) has been pitched as a villain in the Suicide Squad movies, it’s pretty odd that she’s working with the Justice Society. Speaking of the Justice Society, their presence is pretty confusing since it seems like they’ve had a long-standing presence, yet no one has ever brought them up in other movies.

The Justice Society actually has a big role in DC lore, as does Doctor Fate, so it’s kind of shocking to see their history not explained at all and Fate’s fate is literally baffling because of the potential that’s basically being thrown away. Even with Black Adam featuring some good nods and connections to the wider DCEU, including a foreshadowing post-credit scene, it doesn’t establish itself well within DCEU lore or help establish a clear direction that’s desperately needed in DCEU as more shakeups occur.

Black Adam was pitched as a film that would “change the hierarchy of the DCEU” and while it presents some great new characters and showcases the titular characters as a brutal and powerful new force that should be taken seriously, it doesn’t end up being a real gamechanger due to story shortcomings and not making it feel like there’s a clear or remotely enticing plan for DCEU’s future.

Black Adam is now playing in theaters.

Tom Moore
Tom Moorehttps://mooreviews.com/
Tom is always ready to see and review everything horrifying and hilarious that hits theaters, television, and video games...sometimes. You can check out his other reviews and articles on his blog, Mooreviews.

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