Black Adam has been in development, at least in the brain of Dwayne Johnson, since 2007. In the time since then, we’ve seen turmoil at DC and Warner Bros like never before. Originally, Black Adam wasn’t supposed to kick off a new era for the company, but here we are. Instead of just introducing the world to Black Adam, we have the introduction of the Justice Society, a group that predates the Justice League. The failings of Warner Bros need to be mentioned because this movie, whether intentional or not, contains lots of imagery to suggest that Black Adam is the new king at DC. Whether that’s an entire room full of DC figures, posters, and other memorabilia being destroyed by Black Adam or a post-credits scene that sets us up for the future.
The choice on the filmmaker’s and creative team’s part to include the Justice Society isn’t lost on us either. That team includes Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell), and Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo). That team going head to head against Black Adam is a large portion of the film and when they do, it’s really where Black Adam is at its best. There’s a wild introduction for the character and the world that sets up the story, but it feels a bit contrived. It relies a lot on voiceover instead of just letting the story go. This isn’t necessarily the stock “superhero origin story”, but it gets close to that.
What you’re really here to see in Black Adam is the action. This is the closest a superhero movie has gotten to the Saturday Morning cartoons of old. There are massive displays of action throughout with Black Adam fighting mercenaries, the Justice Society, and the main villain of the film.
The Plot, Writing, And The Main Villain Could Use Some Work
Speaking of that main villain, that’s one of the biggest issues with Black Adam. The villain isn’t there for most of the film, and when they do show up, like a lot of other non-big bad DC villains, they’re really not fleshed out, and just there to be a punching bag. It connects back to the main story, but the “reveal” comes out of nowhere and it doesn’t really land. It does lend itself to a cool action setpiece in the third act, but getting there takes a bit of effort. Speaking of that plot, this is one of the strangest-paced big-budget blockbuster films I’ve ever seen. It takes a break midway through to give us a longer look at the Justice Society, but it really does feel like the movie ends abruptly. Thankfully, you’ve got about 45 minutes left after that point.
The dialogue and performances of the human characters in the film are really where it gets bogged down though. Of them all, Mohammed Amer is the highlight, he gets the best to work with. The rest of the humans really feel like they’re just reading lines and the actors are doing their best, but the dialogue they’re given isn’t great. It just feels like a screenplay that had some very explosive action sequences that needed some more work on everything else. It’s a means to an end of getting to the fighting and action.
Give Us More Hawkman And The JSA
The real highlight of Black Adam is Aldis Hodge as Hawkman and the rest of the Justice Society. They might be thought of as a discount Justice League, but they predate them, and they’ve better presented and fleshed out than a lot of the Justice League members were. If DC wants to succeed, they should take a page out of this book. Don’t throw your heroes together for a team-up movie right away, give them some time to breathe, and let audiences connect with the characters. That all happens here, you’re shown that Hawkman, Doctor Fate, Cyclone, and Atom Smasher are all competent heroes that can tussle with the baddest of them all, Black Adam.
Hodge is fiery and passionate, he upstages Dwayne Johnson in the badass department in a lot of the scenes. One scene in the finale made my screening absolutely lose their mind. Pierce Brosnan’s Doctor Fate is also amazing. Some of the effects and scenes with him fighting are breathtaking.
Through it all, Black Adam has some flaws that rear up, particularly with the script, but if you’re heading into this one for some insane action, seeing superheroes beat the tar out of each other, and some badass moments, you’ll be entertained and head home happy. If this is how DC is going to do their films going forward, they just need to tighten up the scripts and get some villains that we can really root against. Black Adam does the job of re-introducing audiences to what DC is all about.
For more on DC, make sure to check back to That Hashtag Show.