An ancient demigod is awakened five thousand years after his time and
must decide whether to use his powers to be a conqueror or a protector.
Black Adam (2022)
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra
Written by Adam Sztykiel, Rory Haines, Sohrab Noshirvani
Starring Dwayne Johnson, Aldis Hodge, Pierce Brosnan,
Noah Centineo, Sarah Shahi, Quintessa Swindell,
Marwan Kenzari, Bodhi Sabongui, Mohammed Amer
Based on characters from DC Comics
Few DC projects (at least, of the ones that actually came out) had a tougher road to release than Black Adam. This thing was announced in 2008 and it finally came out in 2022 thanks to the persistence of Dwayne Johnson. Black Adam does seem like the character he was born to play, though the film he finally got feels more like a compromise than his intended vision. You can tell the film was toned down substantially to guarantee a PG-13 rating, which I never like. Some of DC's most critically acclaimed recent projects have been R-rated: Joker, The Suicide Squad, The Snyder Cut. Why back down now? Regardless, the film is serviceable, but nothing to write home about.
Five thousand years ago, in the fictional country of Kahndaq, a mortal named Teth Adam was bestowed the power of the ancient gods. He used this power to destroy his peoples' conqueror, but he was locked away by the wizards who chose him after they deemed him unworthy. In the modern age, when Kahndaq is conquered once again by Intergang (who were underused), a rebel unleashes Black Adam (Johnson) upon them. To stop him, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis, who is proving to be the only consistent thread in these movies) sends the Justice Society to put him down. Led by Hawkman (Hodge, great casting), and featuring Doctor Fate (Brosnan, even better casting), Atom-Smasher (Centineo) and Cyclone (Swindell), the Justice Society can't stop him. And that's my big problem with the movie. There's no stakes because our anti-hero is ridiculously overpowered. His only weakness, eternium, comes up once and is never mentioned again. It's not a very well-written movie.
I admire Johnson's tenacity in getting this thing made. I only wish he'd gotten to make the hardcore, borderline villainous movie he clearly wanted. Now, he's pushing for a movie with Henry Cavill's Superman, which is odd since Black Adam is so famously the arch-nemesis of Shazam, a film nobody really talks about anymore despite a sequel set for next year. Now that James Gunn is the creative head of DC Films, I hope great things are coming for this insane, hard to follow, out of whack cinematic universe that has no clue what it wants.