Black Adam is a Fun, if Flawed, Superhero Adventure | Review

After many delays Black Adam has finally arrived in theaters and it was worth the wait despite some issues.

Despite greatly enjoying the Birds of Prey movie and the Wonder Woman films, I’ve had trouble getting into the DC film universe as a whole. Unlike the Marvel films, which easily sucked me in from the start, the DC world has just been hard to get into. That all may have changed now that Black Adam has hit theaters. We’ve been waiting a long time for this film, and for the most part it was definitely worth the wait.

To start with the good news, Dwayne Johnson absolutely nails the role of Black Adam. While some of the jokes don’t quite land, the film does an otherwise good job of presenting Black Adam, aka Teth-Adam, as an ancient superhero suddenly flung into the modern world, with all the complications that can arise from that scenario. We need to believe that Black Adam is a deeply flawed anti-hero and Johnson pulls it off, especially once the Justice Society of America arrives.

One of the best parts of Black Adam is that it introduces the Justice Society of America (not to be confused with the Justice League) to the big screen. In this film the JSA consists of Hawkman, Cyclone, Atom Smasher and Doctor Fate. This last addition was a big part of why I ultimately checked the film out. Doctor Fate is one of my favorite DC characters to read about, and when I saw how he appeared in the trailer, I was beyond excited. Even better, Pierce Brosnan was the ideal casting choice for the character. You have no problem believing that Brosnan is Kent Nelson/Doctor Fate. In fact, he played the part so well that I am hoping and praying that a standalone Doctor Fate film is being worked on somewhere. After watching this film I guarantee that many people would pay to see it.

But I digress. One of the great things about the JSA being in Black Adam is how they don’t quite fit in the situation. This is where Black Adam really got my attention. Aside from some excellent casting choices, one thing this movie really got right is how it addresses some of the big flaws that superheroes can have. For example, how superheroes have this tendency not to interfere in certain situations unless and until it’s convenient for them. The JSA gets called out big time for this and it was very refreshing to see this issue laid bare in a superhero film. There’s also the many interactions between the JSA and Black Adam himself, which turned out to be way more comedic than I imagined. The first few times it happened, I admit I didn’t quite “get” the humor, but by the end of the film, I was fully invested.

I particularly enjoyed the interactions between Hawkman (Aldis Hodge) and Black Adam. I hope and pray that the dynamic between these two characters continues in future DC films because there is huge potential for comedy gold with those two. Pierce Brosnan as Doctor Fate was also fun to watch as he naturally fit in as a mentor for the rest of the JSA, being the oldest character in the group (it’s implied he’s been Doctor Fate for a very long time). However, it wasn’t all perfect: I admit I was not a fan of Noah Centineo as Atom Smasher. I kind of understand the humor they were going for with him, but it didn’t quite work.

And that’s the big flaw with Black Adam: the film tries for a lot of things, but they don’t all quite land as intended. As I mentioned before, quite a bit of the humor doesn’t work, or feels forced (particularly with Atom Smasher). Worst of all, the film’s climax doesn’t feel as big as it should given what’s at stake. The film’s ultimate villain feels like someone we should know way more about than what we actually do. In this regard, the film could’ve benefited from about twenty more minutes of exposition to give the audience more context as to who this villain is and why we should care about their existence.

Despite this flaw, Black Adam is an enjoyable experience and I’m finally excited about where the DC film universe is headed.

Black Adam
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Armed with a PhD. in Musicology, Becky spends much of her time blogging about movie music on her blog Film Music Central when she isn't otherwise occupied watching movies and her favorite anime series.