Let’s talk about Black Adam.
Warner Bros is having a hell of a time isn’t it? For those of you not keeping up to date with movie industry news, Warner Bros have been part of a merger and have a new CEO. The new CEO has been brutal, cancelling projects left, right and centre and even trashing already made movies like Batgirl. This leaves DC Movies in a weird spot. They have been trying to get something together but despite the odd glimmer of hope, most of their films seem to end up losing them money despite having massive IPs like Batman and Superman. Seriously, imagine being able to make movies about the Man of Steel and getting outgrossed by talking raccoons. It’s going to be a while until we see what a reshaped DC Universe looks like, but for now we have Black Adam.
Teph Adam was imprisoned thousands of years ago after being able to liberate his people. However with the people of Kahndaq once again being oppressed, Teph Adam is freed and is asked to free the people again. However, he isn’t as moral and good as expected.
Welcome to Dwayne Johnson getting to be a superhero. It’s a surprise that it’s taken until 2022 to happen really. He’s always been a larger than life character going back to his wrestling days and he seems like a natural fit to the genre. The reason is because he’s always been a massive fan of the Black Adam character and has been working for 15 years to bring it to the big screen. He’s done this so he can once again, play himself. It’s a common criticism that Dwayne Johnson just plays the same character in every film and if you think the fact Black Adam is often a villain means this will be different, you will be proven wrong. While his one-liners are done in a more deadpan way than being quippy, if we’re continuing with Guardians of the Galaxy references think Dave Bautista’s Drax rather than Chris Pratt’s Starlord, this is the standard The Rock performance. Not that this is a bad thing. It’s still very charismatic, still very fun and easy to watch. There’s a reason he’s one of the biggest draws in cinema at the moment. So you’ll enjoy him, but you won’t be too surprised.
And that’s probably the movie’s biggest problem is that there is nothing here that will surprise you. Have you ever seen a superhero film in the last 20 years? You know what the beats of this movie are going to be. You know what the movie is going to do, how it’s going to do it and how it’ll finish up in the end. And unlike some other films which use the same tricks, it doesn’t really do much to try and fool you into thinking that it’s something different. It’s fairly honest with the fact that it’s not doing too much original and I have to have some begrudging respect for the fact it even thinks it’s being original with it at times. I laughed so much when the music swelled so much to make you think Black Adam’s proclamation that he kills people is a dramatic thing when it’s set in a DC Universe where famously non-killing Superman and Batman have killed. It’s quite sweet really.
There is plenty to enjoy in this movie though despite all of that. This film serves as our introduction to the Justice Society in the movie universe, it has appeared in the Arrowverse already so this isn’t a live action debut, who are initially tasked with taking Black Adam down when he re-emerges. And these are a fun bunch of characters and easily the best part of the movie. Hawkman is meant to be the straight, moral man but the introduction of grey makes him far more interesting. Atom Smasher is amusingly naïve, though his mask reminds me of Deadpool and reminding someone of a far better movie is never a good move, and Cyclone is a fairly sweet hero with very pretty powers. The highlight though is Doctor Fate. Pierce Brosnan plays him brilliantly as a charming older gentleman who also pulls off some mindbending powers. He is so good in a role I thought was going to be another dull mentor type but is anything but.
The action scenes are also very enjoyable. Admittedly, it hits its peak fairly early on. The Justice Society Vs Black Adam fight is the highlight of the movie, mostly because of the variety of powers on show. Black Adam is a mixture of Shazam and Superman, he is the former’s villain in comics, and he’s facing off with four very different superpowered individuals. This leads to some very fun fights and little arcs in the action scenes which is what we want out of superhero films. No more mirror fights where the hero fights someone with the same powers as him! The unfortunate part is that the film kind of does that towards the end, but it is at least limited and the actual fighting is fun to watch still. So we get some good big blockbuster action out of this.
Black Adam is nothing special. Despite it saying it was going to change tings ever, it doesn’t do anything of the sort. It is a standard superhero movie that does standard superhero things to mild applause. But in a way, there’s nothing wrong with that. Because while it isn’t anything special, it is fairly solid and enjoyable. It’s action scenes are good and the performances are all charismatic enough to bring you in. If you want a revolutionary superhero movie that will change how you look at the genre, avoid this movie. If you want something fairly entertaining to chomp some popcorn down to, this is a good option.