Black Adam is the latest release from the movie studio commonly referred to as Warner Brothers DC HBO Max Snyderverse Inc. With that many masters to please before you throw in The Rock and his entire brand, it is no wonder that Black Adam is a joyless bore designed to be a sequel, prequel, and launching point for the DC Universe moving forward. Sadly, this film fails at all three of its goals and only becomes interesting during a mid-credits scene.
Black Adam tells the story of Teth-Adam and who was imprisoned in a tomb and is inadvertently released when a Lara Croft-type tries to find a crown to free the people of a mythical middle eastern country. Bad news! Teth-Adam is mean and cursed and doesn’t play well with others. Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) sends a crew of absolute losers to try and stop Teth-Adam. What follows is 2-3 giant set pieces where no one can hurt each other but Teth-Adam unleashes plenty of PG-13 carnage on humans. As a result of his tremendous power, which we vaguely learn was given to him the same way Shazam got his powers, all Dr. Fate (Pierce Brosnan) needs Adam to do is say Shazam to end the carnage and relinquish his powers. Of course, there is some third-act backstabbing and the losers sent to fight Adam now must work with him at the request of Dr. Fate to save the World.
Every superhero movie has a paint-by-numbers plot at this point and you can see the “twists” coming from a mile away. What makes Black Adam special is that it bores the audience within 20 minutes and leaves them praying for the credits to roll so they can see how Adam redeems himself and can be justified (pun!) in joining forces with the good guys in the future. For all of Dwayne Johnson’s press tour about being proud to be the villain in this role, we all know he eventually will be the hero so let’s just fast-forward to those scenes.
The biggest disservice done to Dwayne Johnson is that this role zaps him of all charisma. You can critique all you want but Dwayne Johnson is a magnetic presence who commands the screen. This role literally could’ve been played by an actual rock. He’s large, destructive, dull, and has zero personality. It is truly shocking that the writers and director did all they could to not use anything that makes him the biggest star in the world.
SPOILER SECTION (HIGHLIGHT TEXT BELOW TO READ)
At this point, Black Adam is such a terrible origin story for such a boring character and his pointless justice society B squad that audience members may get more from the post-credits sequence. Black Adam is allowed to exist free of interference in the end but Amanda Waller threatens she could send things to stop him. Cue Henry Cavill’s cameo reprising his role as Superman asking Black Adam to talk. This got the only “pop” from the audience because do you know what is interesting? Black Adam working with Superman! That could be a fun movie. Do you know the best part of that movie? Nobody will need to know anything from Black Adam to completely understand the dynamic in that sequel.