Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam Review


It had been many years since I saw this one so it was nice to check it out again. The special really holds up quite well though as the animation is still very good and we’ve got some good fights here. Who wouldn’t want to see Black Adam take on Superman right? It’s one of those heavyweight battles you’ve got to see. Now in terms of power levels I do have some issues…but lets dive right into this.

The movie starts by introducing us to Billy Batson who is still doing his best to be a nice guy but it rarely seems to pay off. He gets beat up for his troubles and has been bounced from foster home to foster home. Clark Kent wants to interview him and this may be at a good time since Billy was starting to get disillusioned with everything. There isn’t time to finish the interview though as Black Adam shows up and immediately tries to murder Billy. Clark transforms into the mighty Superman in order to battle him while Billy learns about great power and what it means to be a champion of the people. Will a brand new Shazam and experienced Superman be able to stop Black Adam?

This is definitely one of the best portrayals of Billy Batson that I’ve seen. Fans of Shazam will appreciate his portrayal here as he’s a good guy just trying to do the right thing. Billy is courageous enough to defend the homeless guy from a bunch of bullies and doesn’t back down from those bigger than he is. As Shazam it takes him a little bit to get used to his powers but once he does then it’s off to the races. Ultimately he avoids taking things too far and listens to Superman even when it’s a stressful moment.

This is Shazam as a super capable hero and he looks really good throughout. I also appreciated Superman here as he has a lot of great lines. This is Superman at his best, a protector of the innocent and guardian of the planet. There’s a certain reverence to him here and I like that he is super experienced at this point and knows how to handle powerful opponents. This works great as a first meeting between the two with Black Adam and Superman initially gauging each other’s abilities. It was also nice that Adam just broke in and started fighting right away. No trash talking or anything, just going right into the action.

For the animation, it pops out as I mentioned. The colors are a little less sharp than something like the DCAU but we get a lot of solid hand to hand. It’s rare to see Superman actually engaging in combos like this as his strength is usually enough but against an opponent of similar strength it makes sense to handle the fight like this. The movie did a good job with that even when it was the 3 of them fighting. They would use their aerial momentum to keep on swinging and things like that. It was just nice to see. I can’t say that the soundtrack was as memorable unfortunately but you don’t really notice because of how hype the whole thing is.

Now I did say that I had some power level concerns so lets get into this. Superman just looks too weak here. Yes, Black Adam is powered by magic, but Superman routinely takes his eyes off of Black Adam leading to sneak attacks. I also thought Superman should have leveraged his experience more in the way that he fought. Like one tactical error was grabbing Billy and just taking a lot of shots when he should have instead tackled Adam away from the area. Superman just letting himself get buried by the giant tower was another miss.

While I’m sure Superman was holding back initially, after a punch or two he should be able to tell that Adam is strong enough to take the hits and then go all out. I just don’t see Superman being completely overwhelmed the way that he was here. Make no mistake, the fight was not close. Without Shazam there Superman would have lost rather easily in this movie without dealing much damage at all. Even if Black Adam could defeat Superman (And my money is always on Superman) it would be after a long hard fought match. It would be relatively even as opposed to a one sided massacre.

Still, I did like seeing the two heroes combo him. It made for a fun fight and I do think that Adam is one of the strongest DC villains out there. He makes for an excellent opponent to Shazam in the mythos and that guy does have a lot more experience so you can see why he would typically have the edge in their confrontations. The more Shazam fights the closer their battles will be though. To date this is easily one of DC”s best stand alone projects out there. It’s very short at less than 30 minutes so there is no time for fluff. We just jump right into the action. There isn’t a lot to say beyond that, just that it’s great all around so you really shouldn’t miss it. Power level issues very rarely hurt a film as you have to go out of your way to make things too crazy. I can buy into Superman having an off day or this just being a weaker portrayal of him. Maybe he just fought someone under the Red Sun and so his powers are weakened. Enjoying the fight is the most important part either way.

Overall, The writing is fantastic and it really helps to support the great fight scenes. When you grab 3 of DC’s strongest characters you know that things are going to go well and this movie does not disappoint. I highly recommend everyone to watch this one and with Black Adam the movie just coming out a few weeks ago, now is a good time to revisit this one. It’s also interesting seeing Adam as more of a pure villain as opposed to being more of a Punisher type character. This one took being banished rather personally and seemed to already be evil before that. Admittedly an evil Black Adam like this one is the version of the character that I’m the most used to but his character has been more nuanced for quite a while now. It would be nice if DC ever went back to these individual specials like this again. Not instead of the full animated movies of course but in addition to them like how they used to do it.

Overall 8/10

Black Adam Review


It feels like this movie has been coming out for so long that you almost started to wonder if it was really happening. Well at last it’s here and the movie definitely lives up to the hype. With top notch action, a solid story and a good group of characters you’re definitely going to be pleased here. I would put it in the top 3 DCEU films just under Man of Steel and Batman V Superman while knocking Justice League off the 3rd spot. You could say that the hierarchy of the DC universe really did change.

The movie starts off with showing us the past of Kahndaq as its King turned crazy with power and enslaved his own people so that they could find him jewels of incredible power. One kid didn’t like this and made a brave stand which resulted in the wizards transporting him away to gain incredible powers. He then stopped the King but it took everything he had and the destruction was massive. 5000+ years later in the present day, the country is once again ruled by terror as Intergang rules now. They’re up to their usual tricks of looking for powerful artifacts. The Crown of Sabbac is their objective and the only one standing in their way is Adrianna.

She is trying to locate the crown first so that she can hide it and works together with her brother Karim and their friend Ishmael. In trying to find the crown we see that Ishmael is a traitor and Adrianna is forced to summon Black Adam from the void to protect them. He defeats the evildoers quickly but is unsure of what to do. He’s been gone for so long that the world doesn’t feel like his. Still, he won’t let the country stay oppressed for long and prepares to fight. Unfortunately the aggressors have help as the Justice Society is summoned to stop him and put this country back into being oppressed by Intergang. If Adam doesn’t stop them quickly then all hope will be lost.

Right off the bat one thing I liked about the film is how fast paced it is. After that initial flashback to the old days, you can bet that there was going to be a lot of action. Just about every scene has someone getting absolutely devastated in combat or a lot of explosions galore. Considering that the film is 2 hours, that’s a lot of good content around every corner. The fights are a lot of fun and Adam’s speed is handled well. It almost looks like teleportation with how quickly he can move and it’s why nobody appears to be a match for him. If he could just keep on attacking while moving at that speed more freely then even the final boss of the film and characters who seemed to last for a little bit like Hawkman wouldn’t have a chance.

The visuals are top notch here and I also liked the soundtrack. Now I won’t say that every tune was a winner here but for the most part they were all solid. I liked Adam’s main theme and when it played you knew that things were about to get real. When a movie looks and sounds good then it’s already starting on a good note. Could the rest of the film capitalize on this? I’d say that it did without a doubt. The movie has some good humor as well mainly thanks to Amon (Adrianna’s son) giving Adam a lot of ideas and him doing his bet to meet them. The movie’s humor style works really well with how serious and stoic Adam is at all times. You should crack a smile a few times.

Now a big thing here was that the Justice Society would not just be appearing but also getting a decent role. Would their scenes just make you wish Adam was around or would they do good? Well, they made for fun supporting characters. The film did have to try hard to make them appear to be any kind of match for Adam though because you get the feeling that he could crush them all in an instant if he actually wanted to. None of them are remotely in the guy’s ballpark after all.

Strength aside though, they look absolutely awful at negotiating. They are given two different opportunities to try and talk Adam down and use the worst possible ways to do it. “Kneel or Die” is not a phrase that just about any character would appreciate so that being the first impression here is a massive miss. I was wondering if the helmet was mind controlling Dr. Fate when he flew in and said this because it seemed so out of character. This isn’t really hinted at so I guess it was just him but it was an odd scene.

Then later on the Society are given another chance so Hawkman promptly ruins it by saying “We’re here to negotiate your peaceful surrender” when the whole idea was supposed to be just to talk. So power levels aside, I can also see why Adam found these guys to be really annoying. I wouldn’t trust them to be heroes at all and it’s clear that they had let this country alone to fend for itself for ages. While Adam couldn’t know that they are just lackeys working for Waller, that probably explains why they didn’t come sooner. I’m guessing they just wait until the government tells them who to fight.

I don’t doubt that they are heroes but they are bad at reading the situation and that didn’t help matters here. They just fumbled the ball so the whole time you are rooting for Adam. See, Black Adam is the kind of villain you can root for here because he’s still protecting people and has a very clear honor code. He’s not going to go after anyone who is keeping to themselves and not hurting anyone. He only punishes the wicked and does so without any mercy.

It’s why characters like the Punisher are always appealing because they keep the villains off the street permanently. So they aren’t heroes but they make the world a safer place and for people living in those areas, they can’t afford to be picky. It’s easy to see why they would side with Adam here. At long last they have a protector and their country won’t be so easily messed with anymore. It opens up a lot of possibilities for the whole area in the rest of the DC Universe. It’s sort of like Atlantis, Wakanda, or Latveria now where it’s an independent area with its own setup.

Picking fights aside, Hawkman is a fun character. He’s just super annoying with how he’s picking unwinnable fights the whole time. His baseless confidence just doesn’t work in this case and always wanting to fight reminds me of Hawkgirl there but usually she wasn’t matched up with someone outside her league like this. Hawkman seems to be the leader but isn’t a big strategist. Still, at the end of the day he is a tough fighter and I liked his determination.

Atom Smasher is the rookie here and he almost felt a bit like Deadpool with how he’s always joking around and having fun. This guy is still a hero and all though. I thought his attempts at humor weren’t nearly as good as the jokes around Adam but he tries. I always thought turning big wasn’t a great power since it just makes you a huge target but he does decently well for himself. His role is fairly small though. Likewise Cyclone doesn’t do a ton of fighting here but her wind powers are nice to have. If she can use her genius to build some kind of robotic suit to protect herself while fighting then I think she would have a good set up here and could really go to town with her wind abilities.

Dr. Fate is really the heavy hitter here and he had the only attack from the Society that actually seemed to hurt Adam. Magic always has a lot of uses and its power can be quite impressive so he makes for a good addition to the team. He doesn’t take things quite as seriously as Hawkman so he actually has some fun with all of this. I really liked the voice that he uses as Dr. Fate so it’s a shame that he didn’t use it more. This guy was a lot of fun though so I can see why everyone likes him.

As for the humans, they were okay. I didn’t care for the villain Ishmael though. He’s just your average guy who wants to be super strong. It’s all well and good that he has these elaborate plans and all but he’s just not very interesting at all. Karim is the comic relief guy here who does his best but is always in over his head. I give him props for coming out to help in the climax though and not backing down. He may not be the best fighter but he still tries his best.

Then you have Adrianna as the main heroine here and I was glad that she always had Adam’s back. When the Society tries to convince her that he’s a menace she doesn’t believe them and defends Adam every time. That’s good loyalty because he’s done nothing but help her by this point in time while the Society hasn’t done much of anything to help out. If anything they get in the way with all of their meddling and destroying half the city trying to stop him.

Finally for Black Adam himself, I was a big fan of the character. He’s very no nonsense with how he goes about attacking the villains. He’s portrayed to also be fairly quick on the uptake. He takes things literally but not to extreme lengths like Drax and while modern things may be foreign to him, he doesn’t suddenly act dumb with new concepts. His character has a lot of nuance to it and even to the end he is making the right calls. As a result he makes for a very good main character and someone you can root for here.

So I didn’t really have any issues with the film. If we want to get into really minor things, occasionally it felt like they had to nerf Adam a bit in order to keep the Society competitive. Based on his opening showing in terms of speed there is no way Hawkman or the others could come anywhere close to even landing a hit on him. They’re just way too slow. I used the excuse of Adam not being able to fight while moving that fast which we could use if we have to, but that really is an excuse since I don’t think anybody actually buys that. Still, the movie did show that none of their attacks did any damage aside from Fate’s so I can let that slide.

It’s also interesting seeing the Society effectively seem like antagonists for a good chunk of the film. It reminds me of how the Avengers went off the deep end during the AVX comic series. I like to think the League would have handled things better which is why Waller didn’t call them in. That or she knew they wouldn’t listen to her and would cause a lot of chaos. It’s always tricky balancing superheroes with a broken country like this because you do wonder where the heroes have been. There is no excuse or reason big enough for them to have abandoned this place for over 20 years so inevitably the hero is going to look bad in this kind of circumstance. I don’t think there would be any way for the Society to win back people’s trust after that.

Naturally the film does have a scene after the credits so you’re going to want to check that out. It’s definitely a real important scene and again it makes Adam look really good with how he handles this. Now, one character here needs to be handled carefully because he’s not the kind of guy who just takes orders. He may follow them if they’re good orders but he’s nobody’s lackey. It’ll be interesting to see where this plot goes and of course I’m hyped to see it. It was a good way to end things off.

Overall, Black Adam is definitely a film that you need to watch as soon as you can. It even throws in some twists and turns for you as it really goes back to the original DC days of Man of Steel and Batman V Superman with the incredible battles and intense story. Like those it can feel a bit darker at times and there’s a lot of grey here as the characters even call the Justice Society out for trying to draw a line between good and evil real quickly. You’ll have a good time here whether it is for those big power displays or also as you weigh in on if Adam is doing the right thing or not. With the country in ruins like this should he keep taking everyone out or should he try to adopt some kind of justice system and make things work out in a more legal way? It’s a lot to make you think but at the end of the day you’ll be glued to your seat the whole time. To answer your big question, I’d still put Superman as the most powerful being in the DC universe but Adam is solidly ahead of Shazam, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and every other member. The next DC films are going to have a lot to live up to as this one set the bar very high again.

Overall 9/10

The Batman Review


The latest Batman film is now here and it has definitely been doing quite well at the box office. It’s always nice to see Batman getting more films too because the guy is one of the most well known comic book heroes for good reason. He’s a fun lead and there’s a lot of stories you can do with him. I would definitely say this was one of the best live action Batman films. Under the Dark Knight but it basically takes down everything else. I’m certainly ready for them to bring out the sequel as soon as possible.

The movie starts with Batman crushing some goons. He realizes that he can’t be everywhere in the city at once though and uses the shadows to help him establish that presence among the villains. If they don’t know where he is, then they will always be fearing him as soon as the Bat Signal appears in the sky. The system works but Batman fears that it doesn’t work well enough as crime rates have only risen and the city is as bleak as ever. Meanwhile someone has started bumping off all of the powerful men of Gotham. He leaves a riddle next to each murder addressed to the Batman in particular. The only common element appears to be that he is murdering people who claim to help the people but are actually working with villains or committing crimes on the side. Regardless of whether this guy is murdering villains or not, Batman has to stop him and fast!

As always with a brand new continuity there’s a lot to talk about here although you could say the same would be true even if it was a sequel because the film is super long and there’s a lot to talk about, plus it’s a franchise film so those are fun to dive into. There’s a lot of good things to talk about here and I had my share of issues but in the end it makes for a pretty fun experience. It’s never a bad idea to have more Batmen either so if we do a big crossover some day then maybe we could get them all in one movie.

This Batman is portrayed really well. I like the fact that his costume is finally, truly bulletproof. I always felt like that was a necessity when you are constantly fighting with every random minion in the city. All it takes it a lucky shot to take Batman down otherwise. The suit also has a lot of good coverage, only half of Batman’s face is uncovered but every other part is bulletproof so it would be very hard to take him down that way.

Batman’s got a lot of confidence and he’s also aggressive. This version of the character is absolutely not playing around and the scene of him breaking into the Iceberg lounge to beat everyone up was great. You feel the power behind his attacks and the film helps to build up the suspense in all of his scenes with a lot of dramatic music. While Affleck is still the best incarnation of both Batman and Bruce Wayne, I would say this is my second favorite Batman portrayal.

On the flip side, this is probably the worst version of Bruce Wayne I’ve seen. Not physically, but he just doesn’t look or feel like how you would expect him to be. As Bruce he is rather cold and snippy to Alfred, he’s given up on helping through his money so the guy just hides from the world now and it seems like he breaks down easy like one scene where he runs to a villain for answers. Now, he’s still new at the job and this is a very different kind of portrayal for Bruce but I don’t think it works. He doesn’t even look as strong as he should be considering that the guy should be working out and training constantly in his pursuit of vengeance.

He’s rarely Bruce Wayne in this film so it’s not much of an issue but it’s hard to look at him and think that this is actually Bruce Wayne. At first glance he looks more like the Joker to me. I think by the second film he should have more of a chance to bulk up and get his confidence back. I’d prefer they keep him serious and don’t have him start flirting all the time but having him be more confident and presentable would be a great improvement. Show him starting to use his money for good and to set up systems to make sure this actually works and doesn’t get drowned in all of Gotham’s crazy corruption. It’s probably hard to find good people here but Bruce should be able to find some ways especially since he has his Batman connection to get the job done.

Back to the positives, the special effects were really solid here and the same goes for the battle scenes. The only scene that felt off was Batman gliding across the city. Maybe it’s because the wings are tiny unlike most of his costumes or the way he’s floating but it just looked really off. Felt like a very old kind of special effect like something you’d see out of the 80s or 90s with him flying since it looked like something that could have been done with a fake background. Otherwise you’ll get to see a lot of really memorable visuals and the constant rain is handled well. The spotlights can be a bit bright and the constant cameras taking pictures can grate the eyes a bit but you will definitely not forget the scenery. The battle scenes properly get across the intensity of Batman’s punches as well and are also choreographed well. These may be some of the best Batman fights right now, at least against minions.

The Batman theme is also solid. It feels like a homage to the DCAU theme and my only complaint would be that it feels unfinished. You get the familiar jingles the whole time but it keeps playing as if on loop and the song never climaxes. It just keeps that intro beat until it fades. I would like to see a proper ending to that, maybe in the sequel. The lyrical song that plays 2-3 times is good though. It helps to keep the atmosphere up and the film did a really good job with the atmosphere in general. Gotham doesn’t feel like a fun place to live.

Regarding the long length, I’m definitely cool with it. My rule of thumb is that good films should always be longer and bad films should be shorter. Another way I’d frame it is that length usually has a very minimal impact on a film if any. A film I disliked would likely still be bad whether it was shorter or longer and a film I enjoyed would still be good whether it was longer or shorter. I don’t find length to be too important in that sense but personally I advocate for all films to be 2 hours minimum. From there you can be as long as you want. Even if you go up to 4 hours, the film should still be great if it’s done well.

Batman’s usual supporting cast is around here and they’re solid as you’d expect. You have Gordon who isn’t quite the commissioner yet but you can tell that’ll come in soon. He’s got Batman’s back and they make for a solid team. I definitely thought he was really solid here and would like to see more of him in the sequel. Alfred doesn’t do much here but he’s fun enough. They just need to dial up the sarcasm in the sequel and I’d like Bruce to be a little kinder to him. They don’t have the same friendly dynamic that they usually do and I can’t use stress as an excuse for Batman.

There aren’t a lot of other big allies yet so the cast actually wasn’t huge but that makes sense since as an origin film you don’t want to distract from Batman too much. I expect the mayor will end up being a bigger character in the sequel so we’ll see how she does there. I expect a sequel would also introduce Harvey Dent and possibly Bullock and Montoya as she brings in her staff. So the last big hero here would be Catwoman although that’s not quite accurate as she helps Batman a lot but is decisively still a villain here.

Catwoman looks good here and gets some solid fights. Her costume may not be particularly impressive (The mask just doesn’t work) but she beats her share of enemies and even saves Batman some work on the detective angle by tracking someone down herself along with a lot of evidence. She would certainly be a talented hero if she wanted to be but that’s rarely in the cards for her. I expect to see Catwoman return in the sequel but whether she does or not, this was a good way to introduce her. She at least has an honor code so you don’t mind if she succeeds even as a villain to an extent.

Unfortunately the main villain Riddler was not very good at all and might be the worst main villain in a while. Bane, Joker, Mr. Freeze, and a number of prior Batman villains were more engaging than this guy. I’d have liked for him to have had an actual costume instead of a normal mask. This guy might as well have been Hush or “Halloween” with how he was murdering people considering that he didn’t have that usual Riddler confidence and swagger. The guy cracks a lot and only talks tough when things are going perfectly. Any slip up and he starts slipping as well.

His scenes also tend to be the weakest in the film. He’s one of those villains trying to be as dark as possible so one villain dies in a particularly brutal way and for the other he inflicts some extra harm just to make a joke later on. The film is good at keeping the more violent scenes off-camera so you only know based on the after effects and criminal reports what happened. That is a good thing but I think they could have toned the Riddler down a bit. Make him less of a psycho so you could have more people in Gotham be mixed about the whole thing.

After all, he’s murdering a bunch of villains so if he did it without the torture then you could see why he has so many dedicated followers and groups of protesters cheering for him everywhere. With the torture you figure that people wouldn’t be quite as on board. Either way I’d rather this guy does not return, I just didn’t care for him in any way so as a villain he didn’t hold up his end of the film.

There are a few other villains running around here like the Penguin and Falcone. They’re decent enough, I like that the Penguin is able to talk tough to Batman the whole time. He definitely doesn’t feel the fear the way that most do. For Falcone I like his confidence, the guy never lets up. I’d take either one of these villains over the Riddler as the main antagonist to be honest. That said, I’d rather none are chosen as the main villain of a sequel, staying in supporting roles is the best way to go.

I’d also like the next film to give us an enemy that Batman can actually fight. This film had no real opponents for Batman to test his skills against. Ultimately he only fights random guys with guns for the entirety of the film. That works well enough for an origin but I don’t think you can do that 2 times in a row. The next film absolutely needs a villain that’s more of a threat so we can get more crispy action scenes. As I said earlier though, the battles with the goons are still solid here.

There is a little scene at the end to try and hype you up for some future events. Personally I see it as more of an Easter Egg than anything and it won’t necessarily lead into anything. IN a way I’d rather not because while this character is fun, there are already so many versions that we may as well switch it up. Also based on the context of the scene, we can assume that Batman’s already faced this opponent in this universe and come out on top so lets give him a new threat.

The power levels are all good here as Batman looks very powerful as he should. I can’t think of any moments where I thought that he should have handled things way differently in a fight. The only dramatic moment that didn’t feel legit involves a rope that Batman needs to cut at one point in the film. He has to go over and cut it which nearly needs to his demise so we get the slow mo effect and dramatic music. The whole time I was just thinking…he’s got his batarang on his emblem as established earlier. Why not just toss that? Would have been way safer and then there’s no risk. Felt like he just forgot about it I guess.

The writing is good though. You’ll be invested in the mystery and part of why the film is able to breeze past the 3 hours is because there’s always a lot going on with the various characters and their plots. It feels like an adventure that keeps on changing and adapting and that should help with the replay value as well because there’s just never any time to get bored. On a rewatch maybe you’ll fast forward the Riddler but everything else will be as fresh as when you first saw it.

As a miscellaneous note, the romance here felt rather tacked on. It seems like the writers just felt they had to include some scenes of Catwoman and Batman getting close because it’s expected but there’s just no good reason for it. They aren’t close here at all and barely know each other so it feels like the scenes are out of nowhere. Even the ending is really dramatic with the two of them but it just shouldn’t be. Especially with Batman’s portrayal here where he’s very serious and not the kind of guy to lose focus like that. I think that definitely could have been removed.

As I end things off, there is definitely an after credits scene I would have thrown in or just make this the ending scene instead of the quick easter egg moment. I’d like for a thug to have been running as Batman catches up to him. The guy does the whole “Who are you” as he fumbles with his gun and starts sobbing. That’s when we could get the dramatic “I’m The Batman” response as the film cuts to black. Would have been absolutely perfect and in line with the film’s messaging if you ask me. Ah well, maybe we can lead off with that in the next film.

Overall, The Batman is definitely a solid film that I would recommend. It’s got a lot of quality action and it never drags on so you don’t have to worry about that. The Riddler is a very lackluster villain but there’s a reason why he has never been considered a top tier Batman villain. This film just supports that but it’s always good to give other villains a chance. Maybe next time we could see someone like Clayface, he’s never had a film before and there’s a lot you could do with him. Of course I also wouldn’t mind if they throw in some guest stars like Superman to start a whole new meetup for the first time. The possibilities are definitely endless here.

Overall 7/10