“Will ‘Black Adam’ be worth the wait for the millions…and millions of The Rock’s fans? Or will it be Rock Bottom? Here’s the lowdown.” With a release date fast approaching, marketing has been building anticipation for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s latest box office smash, “Black Adam.” As expected, the first official trailer debuted in time to pump up audiences during the latest summer Blockbuster hits. A second trailer debuted for audiences at the 2022 San Diego Comic-Con. With powerful action and strikes of lightning, these glimpses of “Black Adam” offered audiences some clues as to the tone and direction of the feature.
Most notably, the latest DCEU film offers an appropriately contrasting energy to the 2019 outing, “Shazam!” With both titular characters closely linked in the comic book lore, illuminating their differences as natural enemies is a strategic maneuver. The light-hearted, often immature tone of “Shazam!” is in line with the theme of a child-turned-superhero. “Good, yeah, good. You’re really on top of this stuff.” Meanwhile, the trailers for “Black Adam” decisively point out that its headliner is 5,000 years old and correspondingly grumpy. Further dissecting the trailer, audiences can expect a detailed backstory of how Black Adam gained his powers, mixed with the struggles the character faces as an immortal entity.
Additionally, the sneak peeks include a new team of heroes for the DCEU, the Justice Society of America. Included in the group’s ranks is character Dr. Fate, as well as the first looks at Hawkman, Cyclone, and Atom Smasher. How this team interacts with the leading character is certain to be a driving factor of the entire film. Based on the source material, the inclusion of Sarah Shahi as Isis may imply a romantic subplot that changes how Black Adam behaves in this film and any other future projects. DC has been planning the character’s big screen breakout for a very long time. Its road to a theatrical release has been very much of the long and winding sort.
That’s primarily a result of the DCEU re-evaluating the way they approach their cinematic world in the wake of the colossal misfire that was “Justice League.” It also had to do with DC wanting to release “Shazam!” before introducing that hero’s arch enemy. Finally, it was also a late-in-the-game executive decision to the effect that Black Adam was a rich enough character to support a solo film of his own. Initially, “Black Adam” was scheduled to hit theaters on December 22, 2021, as something of a nice holiday gift for DC fans far and wide. Of course, as with many other entertainment projects large and small, the COVID-19 pandemic significantly delayed its filming schedule, landing it a new release date of July 29, 2022.
Then, the film’s megastar himself announced in March that “Black Adam” was pushed back amidst an overall reshuffling by Warner Bros. of its upcoming major films’ release dates, according to Deadline. Currently, “Black Adam” is scheduled to premiere in theaters on October 21, 2022. Obviously, the one and only Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will star in “Black Adam.” Mr. Johnson has been quite vocal about wanting to play the role since first circling it back in 2014. DC’s and Warner Bros.’ haphazard attempts to play catch up in the universe-building approach likely hindered the development of several other DC properties, including Johnson’s “Black Adam.”
Now that the DCEU has found its footing via hits like “Wonder Woman,” “Aquaman,” and “Shazam!,” Johnson will finally get to bring “Black Adam” to comic-loving audiences everywhere. Johnson is so excited to get into character that he’s been teasing fans via Instagram about getting into fighting shape for the movie ever since his casting was announced. And yes, it appears he’ll be getting even more buff than usual for the project. Despite the fact the two heroes are perennial rivals, it seems Warner Bros. has no intention of bringing Zachary Levi’s Billy Batson-slash-Shazam into the mix just yet. And Levi himself has said that the two foes likely won’t square off until “Shazam 3.”
Joining Johnson is a cast that includes a mix of well-known names and newcomers alike. As of the film’s most recent casting announcement, via Deadline, “Black Adam” will feature Noah Centineo as the heroic Atom Smasher. Pierce Brosnan will play Justice Society of America member Dr. Fate. Aldis Hodge is team leader Hawkman. Quintessa Swindell is tornado-based hero Cyclone. Sarah Shahi plays a significant comic book character named Adrianna Tomaz. Marwan Kenzari, Bodhi Sabongui, Mohammed Amer, James Cusati-Moyer, and “Young Rock” lead Uli Latukefu will all appear in capacities that have yet to be disclosed. “I’m ready. We can start right now if you want to.”
While we have some idea of who will be appearing in the “Black Adam” movie alongside Mr. Rock, we currently know next-to-nothing about the film’s plot. DC and Warner Bros. are remaining fiercely tight-lipped about this aspect of the project. However, despite the fact that we don’t quite know exactly what Team DC has in store for the “Black Adam” movie, there’s still some things we can glean ahead of any official story announcements. First and foremost, it’s worth noting that “Black Adam” will indeed be the character’s first appearance in the DCEU. As such, it’s a safe bet that “Black Adam” will serve as an origin story of sorts.
That said, Johnson shared the film’s opening scene during the 2021 DC Fandome event, and in that footage Black Adam is already an established superhuman within the film’s fictional world. So, while the movie may simply begin chronologically with Black Adam’s reawakening, as suggested by this clip, it’s also possible that it might jump back in time after its opening scene to establish the character’s conception. Per ScreenRant, Johnson himself has said that he’ll be playing up the antihero side of Black Adam’s story rather than his villainous tendencies over the course of the film.
He may even be pushing the character into more straight-up hero territory, which should make for an interesting showdown when he eventually meets up with Shazam. Or, dare we say, even Superman — on the big screen. “Holy moly.” What would “The Dark Knight” be without Christopher Nolan? Or would “Wonder Woman” have packed the same punch without Patty Jenkins? It is becoming more and more relevant to have a great director behind a superpowered blockbuster. Thankfully, “Black Adam” found its director in Spanish-born Jaume Collet-Serra. Best known for horror films such as “Orphan” or the Paris Hilton-led “House of Wax,” the director previously worked with Dwayne Johnson on the 2021 Disney feature “Jungle Cruise.”
In an interview with Deadline, Collet-Serra explained how he ended up on the DC comics project, “I gravitated toward the origin story of this unconventional character.” The seasoned director further detailed the morality of the subject and plot, describing “Black Adam” as the, quote, “Dirty Harry” of superheroes. That understanding of the story clearly resonated with the star, as The Rock also confirmed at CinemaCon that the 1971 Clint Eastwood feature was the inspiration and, quote, “north star” for the direction of “Black Adam.” “Black Adam” is a project that has been in the works for an extremely long-time — at least compared to other comic book adaptations.
As far back as 2014, The Rock confirmed via Twitter that he would be taking the role of the antihero, Black Adam. That same year, DC set its intentions of repeating Marvel’s success by manufacturing its own cinematic universe. And despite Dwayne Johnson being tied to the franchise, the character unexpectedly failed to appear in any of the previous outings, including “Shazam!” where a cameo would have made logical sense. The exception, of course, is his recent Black Adam cameo in an animated DC film. Released in 2022, “DC League of Super-Pets” features a collection of superhero animal friends facing their own adventure. Coincidentally, The Rock stars in the film as Superman’s lovable canine, Krypto. And as the film premiered, the former wrestler was quick to reveal an after-credit scene featuring none other than Black Adam and his own pet dog.
Regardless of DC’s rollercoaster of success at the box office, The Rock has remained an advocate for the “Black Adam” movie. The footballer-turned-wrestler-turned-actor has been wide-open about what draws him to the character, which he surprisingly refers to as a superhero, despite Black Adam historically being written as the villain. With Johnson’s monumental success as a movie star, the actor likely had his choice of comic book heroes to portray after 2008’s “Iron Man” initiated the rise of adaptations. However, he has chosen to champion “Black Adam” into existence.
He is the film’s — and character’s — most prominent advocate, going as far as to say that his character has the upper hand over Superman. “The truth is: I was born to play Black Adam.” Considering the ever-growing list of canceled DCEU movies, the fact that “Black Adam” is so close to release is a near-miracle. As criticism over the Warner Bros.-backed films has been inconsistent, the powers-that-be have dropped the proverbial axe on multiple planned projects. This includes a Cyborg solo feature, a “Justice League” sequel, and a slew of other unrealized movies at various points in pre-production. Most recently, “Batgirl” had concluded filming and was all but set for release before studio heads trashed the feature.
Yet, “Black Adam,” with a dark cape flapping past, has narrowly skimmed through the multiple termination sprees. The tumultuous road to publication didn’t stop once the cameras started rolling either. “Black Adam” faced further obstacles during production that ranged from coping with a global pandemic to overcoming troublesome scores from test screenings. Worrisome test scores had “Black Adam” rated equal to the now-canceled “Batgirl” movie. The Rock-lead feature was forced into reshoots with the studio unwilling to scrap the reportedly $185 million project. Before diving further into speculation and character analysis, there are some nuts and bolts about the film worth covering. Officially, the movie has not announced a runtime; however, a parents guide from Filmy Rating has the movie clocked in at 1 hour and 48 minutes.
Based on previous DCEU films, the 108-minute watch seems a little short, with “Shazam!” clocking it at 132 minutes, and the longest movie in the franchise, “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” lands at an astounding 242 minutes. Yet, 2020’s “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey” finished at 109 minutes, making a shorter “Black Adam” film a real possibility. Equally, “Black Adam” has not yet received an official rating from the Motion Picture Association of America. However, there is much less need for speculation. According to Dwayne Johnson’s production company, Seven Bucks, “Black Adam” was filmed intentionally aiming for a PG-13 rating. Despite the rise of R-rated comic book films, the story of the antihero did not call for the additional profanities seen in movies like “The Suicide Squad.”
But there is reason to believe that “Black Adam” will lean towards the harder end of the PG-13 rating as the intense violence and visuals showcased in the trailers suggest a darker DCEU movie. Although he often crosses paths with Shazam’s Captain Marvel and shares the same lightning bolt across his chest, Black Adam’s powers differ from his red-suited nemesis. Most prominently, Captain Marvel — the DC version — gains his powers by calling out an acronym of six Greek gods, while Black Adam, who also yells “SHAZAM,” is bestowed his abilities by Egyptian gods. The stamina of Shu offers Black Adam endurance and sustenance, meaning he can live without food, water, or air.
The god Horus gifts him superhuman speed and flight. Strength equal to that of Superman comes from Amon. Meanwhile, the wisdom of Zehuti and the power of Aten make Black Adam not only super-intelligent but able to use magic — an ability that often gives him the upper hand. And finally, the courage of Mehen makes him invulnerable. Needless to say, Black Adam is a powerhouse of super abilities equal to — and often surpassing — the strongest we have seen, like Superman and Captain Marvel. However, the character is not without his limits. Most interestingly, yet inconsistently explored in the comics, the 5000-year-old Adam is stuck in his powerful form.
Unlike the hero of “Shazam!,” Black Adam can’t transform back and forth between superhero and child by saying one word. If he were to revert to his original self, his body would disintegrate, aging the thousands of years that have passed. As a character, Black Adam has been around since 1945, when Fawcett Comics still published Captain Marvel and the rest of the Shazam family, long before their rights were sold to DC. His true name is Teth-Adam, and he was bestowed powers by the same wizard that appears in the “Shazam!” movie. However, instead of using his powerful abilities to protect the world, Adam decided that he should be its ruler and assumed the throne of Egypt.
Betrayed, the wizard banished the errant champion to the most distant star in the universe. Taking thousands of years to return to Earth, Black Adam arrives to find a new champion has taken his place. Surprisingly, the Shazam villain only appeared the once under the original publisher. It was not until DC owned the rights that Black Adam would return in 1975. Since then, the character has been prominently utilized as a villain to DC’s most powerful heroes, including Captain Marvel, Superman, and the Justice League. At times, Black Adam has reformed, becoming a hero, but he is often portrayed as an antihero, defending his own beliefs of what is good and protecting his home of Khandaq.
A significant inclusion in the upcoming “Black Adam” movie is the cinematic introduction of the Justice Society of America. As much as this collective of superheroes seems like a derivative of Justice League, the JSA predates the latter by two decades. The original concept behind the Golden Age team was to combine characters from two sister companies into one series, All-Star Comics. The blended stories included members from both DC Comics and All-American Comics until 1946, when the characters were amalgamated under one publisher title. DC Comics later rectified the inconsistent storylines in the 1985 limited series “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” canonically making the JSA a defunct World War II-era super team.
The earliest members of the JSA included characters that have now become extremely popular, including Green Lantern and Flash. However, much of the initial lineup remains intact for the upcoming “Black Adam” film — specifically Doctor Fate and Hawkman, while Atom Smasher is a descendant of the original Atom. Throughout the years, there have been new iterations of the JSA introducing new members along the way. Meanwhile, the team has appeared on multiple DC television shows, including “Smallville,” “Legends of Tomorrow,” and “Stargirl.” And depending on the reception of “Black Adam,” Warner Bros. is receptive to the idea of creating a spin-off movie for the unique team of heroes.
“Make this one count.” The DCEU timeline is loose, potentially broken, and not nearly as streamlined as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The pair of “Wonder Woman” movies fill points in a timeline that seemingly centers around the 2017 “Justice League” feature. However, the inconsistent double header of 2016’s “Suicide Squad” and James Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad,” mixed with differently aged actors portraying Batman, convolute a cinematic universe. A universe that is about to get even messier with an upcoming “The Flash” movie that reportedly involves significant time travel.
The whole order of things is difficult enough to keep sorted without including another time-spanning character. So, where does “Black Adam” fit into the DCEU timeline that is otherwise fractured? As seen in the released trailers, the story begins thousands of years ago, making it simple to choose an awakening point to align with certain characters and events. With news that Viola Davis’s Amanda Waller character from “The Suicide Squad” is set to appear in “Black Adam,” the story will likely take place in the modern day after the events of “Justice League.” The choice to bring Black Adam into the DCEU as it currently stands would simplify any future throwdowns with established characters such as Superman and Shazam.
However, an explanation will be necessary for why the Justice Society of America is reacting to the film’s events instead of characters that previously existed in the universe. As a wrestler, one of Dwayne Johnson’s most famous lines goes, “Can you smell what The Rock is cooking?” The phrase holds some depth nowadays as the a-list movie star is intentionally stirring the DCEU pot. Johnson is putting much stock in his new superpowered character to pave the way for a revived DC cinematic collection. During his arrival at the 2022 San Diego Comic-Con event, a large screen behind him boldly stated, “The DC Universe will never be the same.”
During the Hall H trailer premiere, The Rock doubled down on the statement, saying, “The idea [behind the film] was: How can we create something that’s fresh, unique, maybe show and create things that have never been done? […] Maybe we can issue a new era in the DC Universe, maybe it’s time for a shift, get in there and disrupt a little bit and listen to the fans.” Given the unstoppable popularity of superhero films and the universal approval of Dwayne Johnson’s electric charm, it seems natural for DC to want to sign the former wrestler up for a trilogy of movies.
Truthfully, they hit the lottery when the big-name star found a character he resonated with so deeply within their roster instead of the competitors. Unfortunately, DC projects are on shaky ground at Warner Bros. Studios. So, the future of Dwayne Johnson’s character in the DCEU highly depends on the reception of his inaugural outing. Producer for Johnson’s Seven Bucks Productions company, Hiram Garcia, spoke about the potential follow-up with Collider, saying, “We have big plans, obviously, for the DC Universe, if the fans perceive the way we want.”
Release Date of DC Black Adam
21 October 2022 (Globally)
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