“Black Adam” was released worldwide this weekend, and fans are gushing over the members of the Justice Society. As the leader of the revered team, Hawkman surely makes his presence felt in the character-packed movie and plays a pivotal role in Teth Adam’s journey to becoming Kahndaq’s deserving champion. In the movie, actor Aldis Hodge portrayed the role proficiently with the character’s signature touch of measured brutish flair. We will briefly discuss the character’s origin, his role in “Black Adam,” and future prospects.
‘Hawkman’ Origins Explained
As one of the celebrated golden age heroes, Hawkman, aka Carter Hall, made his first appearance in “Flash Comics” #1 in 1940. The iteration of Hawkman that has been portrayed in the DCEU is the modern JSA version created by Geoff Johns and James Robinson, so we will discuss Carter Hall’s origin based on that. According to this version, which is in sync with the movie version as well, Prince Khufu of ancient Egypt is assisted by the wizards Nabu and Teth Adam in a quest to find extraterrestrial relics. They come across a Thanagarian ship with a hawk-like motif, which is created from Nth metal and is an alien metal with mystical properties. Khufu uses this metal and imbues it with the power of Horus and creates winged body armor, shape-shifting weapons, and the Claw of Horus. The metal also binds the souls of Prince Khufu and his beloved fiancée, Chay-ara. An evil priest named Hath-Set murders both of them using a dagger made from nth metal, which, along with the curse of Horus, binds the destiny of the three of them together. Khufu and Chay-ara become forever destined to be reincarnated after death, to find each other and fall in love, only to be murdered by a reincarnated Hath-Set. The latest modern-age reincarnation of Prince Khufu is Carter Hall, an archaeologist and adventurer who finds the ancient Nth metal artifacts his ancestor Khufu had created and uses them to fight against crime.
‘Hawkman’ In DCEU
The movie itself does not show us the origin of Hawkman in any capacity, we are only informed via character dialogues, and the prequel tie-in comics reveal most of the details. Hawkman, aka Carter Hall, is a reincarnated Egyptian prince and his association with Nth metal remains unchanged as the weapons, winged armor, and jet he uses are entirely made out of the metal. Much like in comics, in the DCEU, Hawkman, along with Fate and the original Atom Smasher, are the founding members of the Justice Society. Hawkman serves the role of leader in the JSA’s mission to imprison Teth Adam and recruits the younger generational heroes, Cyclone and Atom Smasher. Carter Hall is appropriately presented as a very straightforward, no-nonsense character, one with a very strong sense of justice and morality. As a conservative in his approach, he likes to see the world in binaries, in absolutes, thereby ignoring the middle ground or a gray area the world operates in. Perhaps his battle-hardened psyche, which has remained more or less the same through thousands of years, has made him such a staunch ‘Mary Sue’ type of individual. For this reason, Teth Adam’s methods of murderous approach or forceful intimidation enrage him more than once, and he almost gleefully jumps at any given opportunity to duke it out with him. In comics, too, Hawkman is more often shown as the muscle of the JSA, and for justifiable reasons. Aldis Hodge’s portrayal with mannerisms in the suit, glaring eyes, aggressive grunts, and physical approach sells the character against physical threats like Teth Adam and Sabbac very well. Characterization in this context is spot on, as in comics, too; the Hawkman has the title ‘Savage’ with his name for this specific reason.
Hawkman starts the movie believing in absolute justice and morality and has a penchant for hating people who lack codes, much like David Ayer’s version of Rick Flagg in the first Suicide Squad movie. However, his moral uprightness is put into a sticky situation when Adrianna Tomaz questions him about JSA’s unavailability during Intergang’s ruthless occupation of Kahndaq. The reasons might be valid and logical, i.e., political intricacies and sensitive territories, but even then, from the perspective of Adrianna, he is out of satisfactory reasoning as to why Teth Adam’s awakening didn’t stop him from “invading” foreign soil if the reasons were still very much present. We later get to know about Adam’s truth, and that justifies JSA’s intrusion for most parts, but undoubtedly, Hawkman had to put his or JSA’s role as peacekeepers under scrutiny for a bit of time. Also, it seems Carter is oblivious to Amanda Waller’s ulterior motives. We are referencing Task Force X, where metahuman ex-cons were being forced to carry out black ops missions on the government’s behalf, as there is no way a morally upright team like JSA or Carter Hall himself would associate themselves with Waller after knowing this. It seems like Carter needs to do a bit of digging next time around.
As a strong leader, Carter always puts himself first to soak up the initial heat of the battle. Be it while interrogating Teth Adam or going to battle with the demonic Sabbac. He also displays the qualities of a good tactician, jotting out battle plans to instruct team members and being fearless enough to sacrifice himself if the situation demands it. Despite his multiple on-and-off clashes with Teth Adam, he is the one to talk reasons with him after realizing brute force will not convince someone whose weakness lies in the psyche, and he actually succeeds in talking Teth Adam into relinquishing his powers. Doctor Fate, aka Kent Nelson, not only values his friendship with Carter but also knows a leader like Hawkman is needed at the forefront to guide younger recruits through this rough terrain of heroism. That’s why he sacrifices his life to save Carter from the imminent danger of Sabbac. In the end, this friendship between the two veteran heroes partially saves the day, as Hawkman uses the Helm of Nabu to duplicate himself and tricks Sabbac long enough to subdue him so Teth Adam can finish him off. All thanks to his knowledge of the trick “his old friend” taught him.
In the end, Hawkman’s experience makes him consider Adam to be a bit more trustworthy, and he becomes a bit more lenient toward accepting the kind of justice Adam delivers, but he also does not forget to warn him about the consequences of such actions on one’s soul. Making peace with Teth Adam allows him to see the world in a new light, perhaps a closer look at things like the Hawks manage to do even while soaring high.
Director Jaume Collet-Serra and Hawkman actor Aldis Hodge earlier hinted about Hawkman’s legacy and reincarnation to be a strong foundation of his DCEU origin, but the particular character’s origin being the comic’s one of the most convoluted chapters, the director did not want to adapt that in the movie. Also, another missed opportunity that they regret is showing Nabu (Fate’s Avatar), Khufu, and Teth Adam in the ancient timeline as they had co-existed in comics too. This, coupled with the rumor of a new JSA spin-off series/movie on the way, has us fans more than excited to see the origin and journey of Hawkman done right. Also, Hawkgirl (Chay-ara/Kendra Saunders) has always been one of the most pivotal and inseparable parts of Hawkman’s myth and vice-versa. In fact, Aldis Hodge stated that Hawkgirl was supposed to make her appearance in the DCEU through the movie, but they chose to introduce her character in a more meaningful way later. Hodge also said he’d love to star in a Hawkman solo movie to better explore the character’s rich history. After seeing his portrayal in “Black Adam,” it’s safe to assume that everyone will agree in unison that we need one.