Black Adam 2022
This is the first new set of DCEU movies even though they’re still connected to the first set of DCEU movies with a couple of the characters introduced in cameos. While the term “Phase One” has been thrown around here and there, it would make more sense if this would be considered the phase two of the DCEU or go with some terminology that’s not obviously derivative of Marvel’s release strategy. The early reviews for this movie were slightly below mediocre but I still had high hopes that I would enjoy the film. I had very little knowledge about Black Adam as a character outside of a brief appearance “Superman/Shazam the Return of Black Adam” where he was very clearly a villain and as it was a short film he was a villain with no real motivation or back story outside of someone who is a match for Superman and Shazam. The same was true for the Justice Society and the characters used in this version of the Justice Society outside of a few vague appearances of Hawkman. But besides all of that, I did quite enjoy this introduction of Black Adam as this non-heroic character who makes the decision to become a reluctant hero. And as with all recent releases here, there will be spoilers ahead so be warned.
First off, let’s start off with the character arc for Black Adam, or Teth Adam himself. The film starts out by showing him as a child, similar to Shazam, who got his powers from the Council of Wizards a few thousand years ago in a fictional Middle Eastern country. It’s not until late in the film that it’s revealed that Teth Adam wasn’t the heroic child chosen by the wizards, but he was the child’s father, mortally injured by the king’s minions and saved by his son by transferring his power to save his father only to be executed by assassins moments later. And it was Teth Adam’s rage over the loss of his son that killed the king and destroyed the palace. He is rarely presented as a heroic character in this film, he kills his enemies without hesitation, but the film presents enough moments where he protects the innocents to show that he has a moral heart within him. He is uncaring for accolades, but takes to the young boy Amon who is a superhero fanboy and after the reveal of Teth Adam’s true origin the connection to his own son is much clearer.
The next group of characters introduced in this film is the Justice Society that consists of the more well known heroes Doctor Fate and Hawkman as well as two younger, untested heroes Red Tornado and Atom Smasher. Pierce Brosnan’s Doctor Fate is the highlight here as the battle-weary sorcerer who has magic and can see potential futures, but is prone to staring off into space while touching his helmet/gazing into the future. Hawkman is a serviceable character who doesn’t get all that much in the way of personality. He’s generally just butting heads figuratively and literally with Black Adam but does get a few moments to shine. Red Tornado and Atom Smasher don’t really add much to the team as they are both young and untested. Red Tornado has wind powers and the filmmakers often showcase her powers with unnecessary slo-mo shots as she is twirling and hurling things around with wind, though she is also a tech genius which becomes useful a few times. Atom Smasher is mainly the comic relief as his ability is to become giant, though as he has never done this before he often makes silly mistakes like going the wrong way during battle, or accidentally slapping Hawkman out of the sky. And while they aren’t in battle, he is constantly either eating snacks or asking about food. It was nicely foreshadowed that he would be the comic relief with a brief video call with his uncle, the original Atom Smasher played by Henry Winkler.
The overall action in this movie is really the best part. It is nearly constant fights between Black Adam and Intergang, Black Adam and the Justice Society, the Justice Society and Intergang, and everyone against the CGI end villain. There’s plenty of destruction throughout, but it’s made pretty clear in the beginning that Black Adam doesn’t care about this place, his home was lost thousands of years ago. The two biggest downsides to the battles are the misuse of the slo-mo as the moments where it is used never seems to compliment the pace of the fight, and the unsatisfying end villain that’s all CGI and not really a more impressive fight than what we had seen up until that point.
Despite some of the shortcomings of this movie, Dwayne Johnson really carries this film with his personality. It occasionally feels like it’s aping the Marvel formula with a bigger mix of comedy than most previous DC films but it works. Both Doctor Fate and Black Adam himself bring the right type of comedy for their characters and they break the tension in the right moments. The child character Amon could be annoying to some people but he works well enough as the audience surrogate as well as the kid-in-distress while still always having a part to play that’s never simply yelling “help!” His mother is another good character that really helps tie all of the characters together as someone who knows about Black Adam’s origin, the majority of his history, but also the current machinations of Intergang and their hold on the country. Plus, the end credits sequence is the right amount of fanservice to bring in Henry Cavill’s Superman with just enough screen time along with the right amount of Amanda Waller throughout the film is a nice reminder that this is taking place within the DCEU without forcing it down our throats. Here’s hoping the next few movies will bring in a similar tone while still tightening up all the rough edges. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.
Posted on November 2, 2022, in 20's movies, DC and tagged DC, film, movies, review, Superhero. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
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