It seems that no matter what is going on over at Warner Bros. and the DC Extended Universe, I always try and give them the benefit of the doubt. I am not going to come on here and say that their entire modern library of DC films are horrible, unwatchable trash. In fact, they’ve made some of my favourite comic-book movies in recent memory. Movies like ‘Birds of Prey’, ‘The Batman’ and ironically even ‘Shazam!’ feature some of the most creative, enjoyable cinematic experiences that a comic-book movie can achieve. That being said, with a lack of direction, plotting and an overall lack of cohesiveness when it comes to quality, the DC brand is quickly crumbling and ‘Black Adam’ might have been the final nail in the coffin. A completely unoriginal movie which think it’s being a new revolutionary blockbuster when in reality it came out a few years too late. From the first second to the last, ‘Black Adam’ manages to use nearly every cliche in the damn book and it’s such a waste because at least you would think it would amount to something but in reality. this is one of the dullest movies of the year. A complete failure at a modern, comic-book-inspired blockbuster.
spoilers for ‘Black Adam’ are featured in this review.
If 2022 has done anything for comic-book movies, it’s showing what it can look like when done seriously with tons of care and passion aka ‘The Batman’, when it’s done for entertainment value and for the audience aka ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness‘ and when it’s manufactured and uninspired like ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ and ‘Black Adam’. However, it’s interesting to compare those last two because while I did enjoy this movie slightly more than ‘Thor’, there is something fundamentally wrong with these movies in the sense that they don’t try to be anything except vessels for money and virality. They’re not trying to make a movie, they want the success of one and it comes across very obviously in movies like these. Long action sequences and promises of future content, because that’s what this is, held by very thin threads of conversation and character development. I’m not even going to mention that this movie plays the “What should we call you?” and cuts to the credits with the logo. If you’ve seen any comic-book movie of the last few years, you’ve seen ‘Black Adam‘. Usually, with movies as full of themselves as this, some critics like to say how it is self-aware and while it certainly tries to be at times, it’s really just a company’s product to sell at the end of the day.
As much as ‘Black Adam’ fails at being a movie of its own, I do have to however give props to Dwayne Johnson because he really does put his soul into this. I can see that he wanted this to succeed and that he truly did care about the project. His performance is actually one of the better things this movie offers, he carries a very stoic and powerful presence. He is larger than life as Black Adam and I can’t say the same for many MCU actors and characters. No matter how lacking in quality some of their movies are, DC knows how to portray the epic scope of a superhero and villain. They make a true spectacle out of them whereas the MCU sometimes lets their heroes and villains down due to a very bland portrayal of whimsy and awe. It’s one of the many reasons why I actually liked ‘Multiverse of Madness’ because Sam Raimi understood what makes a superhero and villain pop off the screen. In ‘Black Adam’ the powers are on full blast nearly every couple of minutes. It’s one action sequence after the other and to the movie’s credit, the action is quite well constructed. It’s big, dumb and over-the-top just how a movie like this should be. The problem with ‘Black Adam’ more so lies in the fact that I did not care about a single character.
Whereas the MCU can introduce new characters because their universe is well-constructed, DC is throwing in new characters without really giving us any backstory and to be completely honest, The Justice Society of America was not really a great addition to the movie. I cannot understand why Aldis Hodge’s Hawkman is one of the leading players in this movie nor can I either tell you why Atom Smasher and Cyclone are in here other than to give the movie a more epic scope and add more colours to the battlefield. There is no character development for anyone here except for the bare minimum given to Black Adam. The reveal at the end where he’s protective of Amon because he lost his own son tragically was actually quite effective however, the trailers spoiled that and it’s done so late in the movie that Amon starts getting on your nerves so you don’t really care by that point. The villain is just this horrible cliche, posing as much of a threat as a quality check because clearly, this movie did not get one. It is baffling to me, truly baffling that a film with this much pressure on it would be approved as it is now. ‘The Justice Society is a complete joke, Noah Centineo being used as comic relief in a superhero movie… now I’ve seen it all. He has as much charisma as the fried chicken he was eating at one point. It’s one stupid joke after the other. Pierce Brosnan as Doctor Fate was fine, he is probably the only character I liked and even then he’s misused.
What is even funnier, however, is that the day after I watch ‘Black Adam’, Henry Cavill goes on Instagram to write his official departure from DC and Superman. This is especially funny because a huge chunk of the marketing for this movie depended on the set-up that Black Adam will eventually fight Superman. The reveal of Superman in the end-credit scene was literally used by Warner Bros. and Dwayne Johnson themselves to promote this movie and even then it still bombed at the box office. So now, after a hugely lacking box-office performance, costing Warner Bros. around 100 million dollars and a false promise, ‘Black Adam’ the movie is left as nothing but a hollow shell. Horrible writing covered up with great visual effects for a movie that never amounts to anything. Will we ever see these characters again? Probably not. Will this movie be remembered in a couple of years? Highly doubt it. It is also worth clarifying that false promises are what make a movie bad. The entire reason ‘Black Adam’ fails isn’t because of how it’s connected or not to other DCEU projects, it’s purely because it is a horrible mess. Even without that poorly aged end-credit scene, this movie is still rendered useless. All of this being said, it’s still better than whatever the hell ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ was.
‘Black Adam’ is still showing in cinemas, believe it or not.