The time of heroes is over.
Black Adam is a 2022 superhero film directed by Jaume Collet-Sera, written by Adam Sztykiel, Rory Haines, and Sohrab Noshirvani, produced by New Line Cinema, DC Films, Seven Bucks Productions, and FlynnPictureCo., and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. The film is based off of various comics by DC Comics. It stars Dwayne Johnson and Aldis Hodge. This is the thirteenth project in the DC Extended Universe. It acts as a spin-off of Shazam! and a sequel to The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker. It will be followed by Shazam! Fury of the Gods.
"There's no one on this planet who can stop me." - Black Adam
After being asleep for 5,000 years, Teth-Adam is re-awoken from his tomb when Kahndaq is in need. With his return, Black Adam brings a savior to Kahndaq as well as a destructive nature that attracts the attention of the Justice Society, leading to a battle where the good and the bad side is not as clear as it seems.
Black Adam is one of the most action-packed blockbusters in years. One could describe this as a two-hour long action sequence, and they wouldn't be far off. From the get-go, it is non-stop thrilling action, which I adored. It automatically makes this movie watchable, whether you are into the story and characters or not. It's pure fun. If you enjoy watching the Rock punch people in the face, you are going to enjoy this. It's an adrenaline-fueled superhero blockbuster that floors it from the beginning and doesn't let up until the credits roll.
And, because this film is so action-packed and fast-paced, it's just incredibly, incredibly entertaining. This movie is plain and simply a blast. It isn't focused on changing the superhero genre. It isn't trying to make a statement and do something different with comic book movies. The only reason this film exists is to entertain audiences for two straight hours, and it does a fantastic job of that. It's not the movie of the year by any means, but it is absolutely one of the most fun movies I have seen in 2022.
One of the things I was most excited for in Black Adam was the Justice Society of America. If you don't know, the JSA is the first ever superhero team. They came before the Justice League, the Avengers, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four...all of them. This was the first live-action film appearance of the JSA...and, oh boy, did it deliver. There were only four members of the JSA, and two of them were standouts. The first is Hawkman, played by Aldis Hodge. He essentially acts as the leader of the JSA, and he is awesome. They establish him as having a very rigid set of rules that he abides by, which leads him to clash with Black Adam and makes for some of the most fun scenes in the film. The dynamic between Hodge and the Rock was also a major highlight of the movie. After this film, there will definitely be a campaign for a Hawkman solo outing.
Hawkman is awesome, but slightly out-awesoming him is Doctor Fate. Pierce Brosnan slips into this role with such ease and such gravitas that it feels like fate choose him for this movie (pun intended). They do some unique things with his powers and do a really good job of making sure he isn't just DC's Doctor Strange. He has the James Bond charm that Brosnan brings to his roles while also having this sense of wisdom and age that just makes you feel extra connected to this character. He was fantastic.
Black Adam feels like a throwback superhero movie, in the vein of a Spider-Man or X-Men. It's cheesy. It's full of cliches. And, while that seems like a bad thing, it's actually kind of refreshing. We've gotten so many "different" superhero movies in the past few years that it kind of feels nice to get back to basics. I have fun watching non-stop action with characters that I like. I enjoyed how surprisingly funny this movie was, with all of its fantastic, cheesy one-liners. I went to see this movie with my uncle, and after it was over, I told him that Black Adam is the most Marvel DC movie ever made, and I mean that entirely as a good thing.
The writing is also surprisingly good. It embraces the cheesiness of this movie. It understands what it is. It does not take itself too seriously, which made the movie significantly more entertaining. There are so many one-liners, and almost all of them had me laughing. They nail the banter between our main characters. There are tons of epic, generic lines that are said, but that feels more like the movie embracing the blockbuster cheese that it is. It knows that the Rock saying "I kneel before no one." is not great cinema, but it's fun, blockbuster camp. And that's what makes this movie just so much fun.
Finally, the visuals here are great. The entire film takes place in Kahndaq, so you get this desert-Egyptian aesthetic that I absolutely loved. The early DCEU was criticized for being too dark and bleak, and they heard that and took a pendulum swing in the other direction. Now, the DC movies are filled to the brim with color and beautiful, visceral visuals that I absolutely loved to look at. There is obviously CGI, but it isn't the headache-inducing, bad CGI that the MCU has had a problem with lately. Black Adam was a visually stunning movie, and I really, really appreciated that.
I do have a lot of negatives, but despite that, I really did like this movie. There are just a good amount of problems.
The first thing is the story. The story almost feels like an after-thought. The characters and action take the foreground, and the story is just left in the background. The main plot involves an ancient relic and some mythical Kahndaq stuff that you don't really care about. The plot is clunky. It plays out in a very strange manner. It's an incredibly problematic film when it comes to actual story, but that doesn't really take away from the entertainment.
The tone is also kind of all over the place. It's actually a much lighter movie than I expected. From the trailers and early reactions, I thought this was going to be one of DC's darkest movies. It's not. There are dark elements, sure, but this film has a lighter tone than I thought it would. There have been reports saying that this movie was almost rated R, and I just don't see that. There are so many funny moments of levity that keep this film afloat. This is a negative because it can't decide if it wants to have truly dark, somber moments or just be a fun blockbuster, and you can feel that tension throughout. It makes the film feel pretty uneven throughout most of the runtime.
While Hawkman and Doctor Fate were standouts, they kind of overshadowed the other two members of the JSA. Cyclone and Atom Smasher don't get much to do in this movie. I was actually okay with that, because Cyclone and Atom Smasher are much less known than Hawkman and Doctor Fate, but their roles in the film are reduced to almost nothing. Atom Smasher has some funny moments. But besides that, neither of them really make an impact. You can take both of them out of the film and almost nothing changes.
Probably the most frustrating thing about Black Adam is the titular character himself. Like the film he's in, Black Adam can't decide if he wants to be a fun, quippy superhero or a dark, broken character. They choose to reveal pieces of his backstory throughout the movie, but that doesn't work at all, because you don't understand why he's viewed as a threat by the JSA or why he is motivated to do what he's doing. It's also weird because they've teased his origin in the trailers, but they treat it like a big, secret reveal that comes in the second half of the movie. It made his character feel very uneven and was the biggest thing holding this movie back.
Finally, the villain is terrible. He's essentially just a boss fight for the finale, but he shows up throughout the movie. He doesn't really have a motivation. He is extremely, extremely generic. The look of the character is cool, but besides that, he comes off as dull and forgettable. I barely have anything to say, because he's such a forgettable character.
Are There After-Credits?
Yup. If you haven't gotten it spoiled for you, because most people have, you are in for one hell of a mid-credits scene. I don't wanna say anything more than that. But the mid-credits were awesome.
And there's no post-credits scene. So you can leave after the mid-credits.
Final Thoughts and Score
Black Adam is pure, blockbuster fun at its finest. It points to a hopeful new chapter of the DC Extended Universe while also delivering non-stop thrilling action and some great new characters.
I will go Savory here. Age range is 8+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad)
Fun Factor: 8.5/10
Directed by Jaume Collet-Sera
Rated PG-13 for superhero violence and action, language, disturbing themes and images, thematic elements
Released on October 21, 2022
2 hours and 4 minutes
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as Teth-Adam / Black Adam
Aldis Hodge as Carter Hall / Hawkman
Pierce Brosnan as Kent Nelson / Doctor Fate
Sarah Shahi as Adrianna Tomaz / Isis
Bodhi Sabongui as Amon Tomaz / Osiris
Noah Centineo as Albert Rothstein / Atom Smasher
Quintessa Swindell as Maxine Hunkel / Cyclone
Mohammed Amer as Karim Tomaz
Marwin Kenzari as Ishmael Gregor / Sabbac
Viola Davis as Amanda Waller
Jalon Christian as Hurut