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.