I know. I’m usually on top of watching the new superhero movies, or I try to be. So before you jump on me for being a few weeks late, just know I’ve been super busy. If I could go and punch the past version of myself that thought it was a good idea to go back to school full-time and work, I would. But I finally had a moment to myself and spent it watching Black Adam. As I write this review, I hope it will help me determine whether that was a waste of my time.
(Yes, there are spoilers. Unfortunately, I am too lazy to write a spoiler and non-spoilers addition.)
Marvel or DC?
Before I jump into my review, I must clarify one thing. I am a DC fanboy. I like Marvel and think their live-action movies are infinitely better than DC’s try at them, but I’ll take DC’s animated universe over everything Marvel has put out. That said, I also went into this movie with zero information. I avoided all the trailers and blocked the keywords on Twitter so I wouldn’t even see them, partly because I wanted to go in with no expectations and partly because DC hasn’t put out a good live-action movie since Man of Steel. (Yes, I like Man of Steel even despite its problems. Sue me.)
Besides his interactions in Injustice and occasional cameos in DC’s animated films and shows, I don’t know much about Black Adam. He is one of my nerd blind spots. I am more of a Jaime Reyes, Dick Grayson, and John Constantine fan. (A weird selection of characters, but what can I say, I have diverse tastes.) What I learned is that Dwayne’ The Rock” Johnson loves Black Adam. From some of the interviews I watched after the movie, it seems his love is the same as Ryan Reynolds has for Deadpool. And I think it showed in the movie.
Black Adam is the first time, at least off the top of my head, that we see The Rock play a character that isn’t himself. He is sort of like Will Smith in that sense. (Is it okay to talk about Will Smith yet? Ever since he slapped the crap out of Chris Rock.) Normally, The Rock plays some funny, charismatic hulking man who is good at everything. But, in this movie, we see him play a character with actual nuance.
Black Adam, originally known as Teth Adam, is a father living through survivors’ guilt. Teth Adam’s son was the real hero who sacrificed himself to save his father. Teth Adam then went on to kill everyone responsible for the death of his son and wife. Finally, he went berserk with power, unable to control it, which led to the wizards locking him in a tomb. (The more I think about it, the more I realize how convoluted Black Adam’s origin story is.)
If I’m honest, this movie falls under the same category as all of the Fast and Furious, Transformers, and Expendables movies. You turn your brain off and watch a big hulking guy (or robot) fight the good and bad guys once they learn what’s what. You might look elsewhere if you are looking for a film that gives you meaningful commentary on a father surviving his wife and child. On the other hand, if you want to see the ethnically ambiguous anti-hero version of Shazam rip through a small army, you should look here.
I will say that I loved seeing Hawkman and Dr. Fate (even if, in this movie, he felt like a rip-off of Dr. Strange. He is so much more than what they showed.) But it was awesome to see a Lord of Order and a Thanagarian in the DC universe without needing to have separate origin movies. DC needs to start introducing their characters like this instead of giving us more Aquaman movies or whatever dumpster fire The Flash is going to be.
Black Adam, as a whole, wasn’t great. It’s not the worst DC movie, but it’s not the best. But it’s still worth watching. Why? Because Henry Cavill is back as Superman. If losing him as the Witcher, which has turned into a god-awful show, so that he can come back as Supes, I am all the happier for it. And that post-credit scene is perfect. It’s a warning to Black Adam. F around and find out how weak you are next to a Kryptonian.
I wish I hated this movie so I could say it’s a SHAM out of SHAZAM, but it’s not that bad.
3 out 5 Lightning Bolts.