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Movie Review: Black Adam (2022) *Very Minor Spoilers* - and Some Commentary About the Future DCU

Black Adam One Sheet.

Ever since Dwayne Johnson started promoting Black Adam with his The hierarchy of power in the DC UNIVERSE is about to change catchphrase my expectations for the film were lowered. Not that they were high, or even that I had any, because I'd actually never heard of Black Adam until Dwayne was announced as taking on the role.

However, the idea that a supporting character from Shazam's comics was gunning to be seen as the most powerful superhero of all DC, telegraphed to me that maybe Dwayne was serving himself more than serving the character and the character's fan base. Especially because Dwayne was always pushing for a Superman, Black Adam show down.

While I do like Dwayne Johnson, his whole campaign for this film felt like he was hijacking DC more than wanting to be a part of it. As it turns out, he kind of was, by putting himself and his production company in the running for being the Head of DC Films at Warner Brothers Discovery.

His whole plan seemed to revolve around Black Adam fights The Justice League - which I guess would be awesome in its own way but there didn't seem to be much thought of what would happen after that?

As a result, I had no interest in seeing Black Adam in cinemas. Even after the trailers came out. It looked well made in terms of the action. There was a bit of comedy to it. But there wasn't really anything compelling about it. Then the reviews started coming in, and they weren't encouraging. So I decided to wait until the movie was available at regular prices on streaming.

Good call.

The story revolves around Black Adam. Initially he's a slave, who is given godlike powers, that allow him to free his people before he is captured and imprisoned for 5000 years. Jump forward to the modern world and Black Adam is freed, where he begins to dish out his lethal form of justice on anyone who gets in his way.

This puts him square in the crosshairs of The Justice Society who set out to return him to his prison where he can do no harm.

I can't fault the special effects and action scenes in this movie. If that's your thing then seeing this movie on a big screen would well be worthwhile.

The story premise is not bad, neither is the acting. There's a bit of a twist at the end that kind of elevates Black Adam as a character but doesn't really mean a lot, because it only serves to reframe your view of Black Adam.

What lets the film down is the story structure is a bit all over the place and much of the humor is miss timed. Seriously. Some of the jokes are set up well but the pause between the set up and the punchline is too long, or the punchlines are just weak call backs.

Dwayne's Black Adam is all over the place too. He's a man out of time but also wants to be the smartest man in the room at all times. He's super serious and intense but wants to be quippy.

Then there's the comparisons of The Justice Society looking too much like the X-Men with their mansion like headquarters and fancy plane that they keep underneath the grounds.

For some reason with this big HQ and plane the Justice Society only has four members, and for two of them, this is their first day on the job? One of them is clearly there as comedy relief with jokes that are often quite random to lighten the mood.

Overall it is a fun film, with really strong action sequences. The comedy isn't bad, it's just the timing is so off on several occasions, to the point where it's no longer a laugh, but you still may raise a smile.

If Dwayne got to do a sequel the character would be better served for not being an origin story but where this ends doesn't really give you much to hook onto for a sequel.

I feel like we needed to get to know Black Adam through the Shazam movies, where he should have originated from initially. Perhaps that would've given the character time to grow in power instead of being a god right from the get go.

Maybe then we'd see a sequel where the Justice League has to save the Shazam Family from a overpowered Black Adam. Sure it's a lot of characters but it is Black Adam versus two superhero teams instead of one.

That might have been something?

I feel the DCU dodged a bullet with Dwayne and his production company. While James Gunn doesn't always land with me, at least with his appointment to head of DC, and his end of January (2023) announced plan going forward, you can see he casts a much wider net. He still has his pet projects but he has a proven track record for developing lesser known characters into something interesting.

DC needs that right now. As much as I like the big three, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, and I also like The Justice League, there are so many more DC characters that could easily be popular given the spotlight.

For example, until James Gunn's Suicide Squad movie I'd never heard of Polka Dot man. But if they gave him a spin off series I'd definitely watch. Heck I didn't even know who Peace Maker was until that movie, and I showed up every week for his TV series... it was awesome.

Black Adam was kind of a fun movie, particularly for its action sequences. It's just a shame Dwayne didn't get out of the way of his own ego and allowed Black Adam to build through the Shazam movies (that were already being made) instead of trying to do it all with one big film.

This could've been a character we cared about from at least one other film (or even two) before he got his own movie.


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