Wif not the DC Extended Universe, the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s rival to Warner Bros., who would have died a death after the critical and commercial failure of the original Justice League? If so, no one seems to have told Dwayne Johnson and Jaume Collet-Serra, respectively star and director of Black Adam, whose debut trailer came out this week.
As in the comics, the powerful antihero seems to be strongly related to 2019’s Shazam, the DC universe’s web of inter-superhero links that is excitingly in place. We know this because, despite its announcement in 2014, Black Adam only exists because Shazam did so well. Can the DCEU eventually be slowly rebuilt around the various costumed titans unleashed by the ancient wizard of Djimon Hounsou? It sure looks like, even though it hasn’t been officially confirmed that Hounsou will return in Collet-Serra’s film.
In the comics, Black Adam is the yang of Billy Batson’s yin, a previous recipient of the sorcery Shazam’s powers who was banished for 5,000 years after failing to use them properly. The same 5,000-year period is present in the film, but instead of Black Adam traveling back to Earth from a distant galaxy where he was sent in disgrace, he has apparently been awakened from an ancient grave. Maybe the CGI was just easier.
What’s odd here is that it seems like we’re being introduced to Adam as a good guy, or at least someone with the potential to help rid Earth of the forces of evil, while the character started out in print as a villain. and only decades later began to appear as a more positive figure. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that he’s played by Dwayne Johnson, the muscular hulk of Hollywood now that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone are in their mid-70s.
Johnson seems to have been attached to the role for at least a few of those five millennia, and now that he’s finally here, the trailer is determined to show you that he’s a different kind of hero, a no-nonsense one who takes his enemies with you. fun kills and doesn’t worry too much about pesky moral codes. I guess when you’re locked up that long, a petty senseless murder isn’t that high on your list of indiscretions.
This will probably all work out as Black Adam lends a hand to the newly introduced Justice Society of America, perhaps as the blunt black ops-style tool used by the likes of Aldis Hodge’s Hawkman, Noah Centineo’s Atom Smasher, and Pierce’s Doctor Fate. Brosnan to help them save the day without sounding their moral whistles. But it can cause problems over time when Johnson is later ready to take on Batson/Shazam or Superman.
There’s a reason Tom Hardy’s Venom hasn’t battled Spider-Man in the Sony-owned Marvel movies yet, beyond the tangled web of contractual ownership of Tom Holland’s masked wallcrawler. In the comics, super-powered individuals can take decades to go from good to bad and back again: on the big screen, there’s much less time to show the audience why the guy you just saw help build the known universe. save it, it just decided might be a good idea to destroy it. Hence, some of the doubters surrounding the MCU’s Wanda Maximoff/Scarlett Witch recently turned to the dark side in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, despite Marvel giving her an entire TV show that more than hinted at her descent into rogue. .
Ben Affleck’s caped crusader faced the same issues after he decided to take on the man of steel in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and he never really recovered from his recast as the villain (although nonsense scenarios certainly didn’t help).
Can Johnson’s Black Adam Avoid All These Future Torments? Only time will tell, but for now he’s here, he’s more badass than a parade of monster trucks blasting out of ’80s hair rock, and he’s nothing like any hero we’ve seen in a comparable superhero fare. If DC has a plan to make all this work, who are we to complain?