Worried about what Rotten Tomatoes said last week? Don’t be! Black Adam was an electrifying sensation filled with action and emotion. Former WWE superstar and current Hollywood superstar, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, blazed a new trail portraying the legendary anti-hero from DC comics in the latest flick by Warner Brothers along with co-stars Pierce Brosnan, Aldis Hodge, Noah Centineo, Sarah Shahi, and Quintessa Swindell. My expectations from this movie were not very high, but I walked into the cinema with an open mind and left with a smile on my face. Mainly because of how much I love the character and Dwayne.
Please note that this article contains spoilers lie ahead.
The movie begins with a town of slaves in Kahndaq all the way back in 2600 BC toiling and mining for a rare magical mineral called the Eternium for their tyrant King Ahk-Ton. When one of the bondservants finally discovers it, he is immediately killed by one of the guards. However, a child snatches the eternium and escapes execution when the Council of Wizards from the Rock of Eternity pick him to become their champion. Just when Ahk-Ton had the crown of Sabbac ready, the unforgiving anti-hero Teth Adam makes his entrance and obliterates the entire palace and army.
These scenes immediately gave me flashbacks of my trip to Egypt in 2006 where I visited some incredible museums and the Pyramids while learning similar stories, which made me appreciate the cinematography and narration of the film from the get go. Also being a former student in theatrical makeup and special effects, I couldn’t help but admire the makeup job done on the actors and extras who played the slaves in the movie.
Fast forward to the modern day, Kahndaq is now governed and ruled by international mercenaries called the Intergang. Archaeologist Adrianna Tomaz locates the crown of Sabbac while also awakening Teth-Adam after reading an incantation in a desperate attempt to fight off the Intergang who also seek the crown. It is at this moment when the carnage picks up and a better representation of the title character’s abilities is bestowed upon us. His flash-like speed and invulnerability to weapons of mass destruction gave me evil Superman vibes. It also further showcased how he was far more superior than his heroic counterpart Shazam has been presented so far in the 1st film and the trailer of the upcoming sequel, which was also often the case in various comic arcs.
Shortly after all the chaos, we are introduced to the Justice Society of America that is composed of Hawkman, Doctor Fate, Atom Smasher and Cyclone who are all contacted by Amanda Waller to apprehend Adam as she deems him to be a threat. Upon their arrival at Kahdaq, we were treated with another series of action sequences. It was during this part of the film where Pierce Brosnan’s Doctor Fate stole the show with his magical abilities. The visuals of the scenes where he multiplies himself to take on Adam along with his colleagues were what fans like myself were yearning to see after being exposed to too many Doctor Strange moments across the MCU timeline since Phase 3.
When cooler heads eventually prevail, the JSA and Adam decide to work together after they discover Adrianna’s son, Amon, was kidnapped by the leader of the Intergang, Ishmael, who demands for the crown of Sabbac in return. Meanwhile, Doctor Fate’s vision continuously shows him a future where Hawkman is slain. While rescuing Amon, Adam kills Ishmael right after the latter gets his hands on the demonic crown. After this Adam reveals to Hawkman that it was his son who was actually chosen to be the champion by the Council of the Wizards but passed on his powers to his father to save his parents from execution, only to lose his own life in the implication.
It was at this moment when I found the second flaw to the film, the first of which is Dwayne’s inability to adopt a middle eastern accent to put on a more accurate depiction of the anti-hero. Teth Adam never had a child in the comics who became champion before his father, which is what annoyed me about the plot twist. While it was not an enormous plot--hole like the one regarding Darkseid forgetting Anti-Life’s location in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, it was still something that didn’t sit right with me. The backlash from critics prior to the film’s premiere is something that flashed across my mind at that moment for being the potential reason as to their harsh reviews.
After the revelation, Adam feels incapable of becoming a true hero and turns himself over to being imprisoned in a secret Task Force X site where we see a familiar face in the form of Jennifer Holland’s Emilia Harcourt from The Suicide Squad and HBO Max’s Peacemaker. Despite Adam’s imprisonment, Doctor Fate’s vision of a dying Hawkman persists. My interest in the plot was immediately renewed as I couldn’t help but think how Adam will be freed without his powers and stop manifestation of this grim premonition. It is at this moment when he realizes that Adam isn’t the real cause of the upcoming Armageddon. With the help of Adrianna, the JSA figures out that Ishmael intended on getting killed by Adam after possessing the crown in order to be reincarnated as a host of Sabbac and rule the earth.
I got major Mephisto vibes from Ishmael’s new appearance and couldn’t help but find him to be a nearly unbeatable foe, which was true for the most part since the JSA struggled to battle his new demonic form. Dr. Fate creates a force field to block his teammates in order to prevent the death of Hawkman. While taking on Ishmael by himself, Fate uses an astral projection to free Adam from the prison and summons him to save the world before being slain.
This is my final complaint about the film since Dr. Fate was easily the most popular character alongside Adam, with the vast potential of spawning his own spinoff movie series for the future. However, Warner Brothers continued their streak in leaving the DC fans unhappy once again with another poor decision. But we can still be hopeful for a prequel spinoff for the character, right? Or is that just a pipedream?
With his inevitable return, Teth Adam with the help of the remaining JSA manage to vanquish Ishmael. The JSA decide to leave on good terms with Adam after the climax where the latter takes on the role of Kahndaq’s new protector after much supplication from the citizens and adopts the new name Black Adam. It was at this final scene where we see Dwayne recreate the iconic cover of the New 52 comic and gave me severe goosebumps.
But the show was not over just yet. Like most other DC and Marvel flicks, Black Adam had a mid credits scene that stunned the audience. Amanda Waller sends a drone to warn Adam via hologram form to not leave his Kahndaq. Adam rejects and destroys the drone who is then met by Superman played by none other than the beloved Henry Cavill. His return was met with a great ovation from myself and the rest of the patrons in the cinema that night.
Overall, this movie did not disappoint. It had a story that was engaging enough regardless of a couple of inconsistencies with storytelling and bad decision to write off characters. The costumes of Adam and the JSA were immaculate. It will be very intriguing to see what the future holds for the new franchise helmed by Dwayne Johnson. I personally would love to see him eventually clash with Zachary Levi’s Shazam one day or maybe even team up with him to take on a common enemy. Another idea that lurked in my mind recently was seeing an Avengers Endgame like movie in the distant future with the Justice League, Justice Society, Shazam Family, Black Adam and The Suicide Squad against a major supervillain like Darkseid or Brainiac. The possibilities are endless with the directions that the DCEU could spiral out into. I just hope that Warner Brother’s new team of executives finally have a proper plan to revive a broken franchise.
Coming back to Black Adam and the critics, I would again recommend people to watch this movie and not allow themselves to be influenced by movie reviewers such as Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and IGN who can be very biased and picky with their movies. I had made the mistake of not watching the first Venom movie in the cinemas after reading their reviews and lived to regret that decision after watching it on digital. At the end of the day, it is all about deciding for yourself based on your knowledge and emotions towards a character and the series.
Thanks for taking the time to read my review and hope you enjoyed it. Please feel free to share your thoughts on it and the movie if you have already watched it.