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How Will Black Adam Reshape The Future Of DCEU

After numerous delays, halts, and release concerns due to the pandemic, DC Extended Universe’s 11th installment, “Black Adam,” finally approaches a month from its release date. One of the most anticipated movies of this year, Dwayne’ The Rock’ Johnson’s superhero movie ‘Black Adam’, will hit theaters worldwide on October 21st, 2022. The project itself has been in development for more than a decade and has the potential to become a game changer for the DCEU and for superhero movies in general. We will briefly discuss the background of the titular character and the ways the film can pave the groundwork for future DCEU projects.


A Promise Overdue

The initial development of “Black Adam” goes all the way back to 2007, when New Line Cinema made their move to produce a movie about DC superhero Shazam and roped in Dwayne Johnson to play the character. However, based on a popular fan poll and thanks to the actor’s own interest, he was chosen to portray the role of “Black Adam,” the archenemy of Shazam, in the same year. After that, the movie literally entered into production hell, as, until 2014, no major updates surfaced regarding the movie, even though Dwayne was still attached to it. After ‘Man of Steel’ was released and the cinematic universe of DC comics-based movies seemed like a possibility, the studio renewed its interest in Shazam. It was later decided by Dwayne, DC comics legend Geoff Johns, and other executives that giving Shazam and “Black Adam” their own separate solo movies would help flesh out both their characters without taking the spotlight away from any of them. After ‘Shazam’ was released in 2019 and turned out to be both a box office success and a fan favorite, the development of “Black Adam” became a priority. Horror movie alumni (Orphan, House of Wax) Jaume Collet-Serra was picked as the director, and Lawrence Sher, who was nominated for Academy and BAFTA for his work in ‘Joker,’ was chosen as the cinematographer. Dwayne’s commitment to the role demands some praise as he stuck through the project for almost 15 years.


The Man In Black

Black Adam made his first appearance in Fawcett Comics’ The Marvel Family #1 in December of 1945. It is the brainchild of Otto Binder and C.C. Beck, the duo who also created Shazam and all other related characters. As a gesture of respect towards the creators, the first trailer of Black Adam was released on 8th June 2022, which marks the 112th birth anniversary of C C Beck. Often portrayed as a supervillain and later an antihero, Black Adam was conceptualized to be an evil counterpart to the DC superhero Shazam. Although identical in design, colors of their respective attire also present a nifty contrast between two characters: red/golden of Shazam and black/golden of Black Adam. Both of these characters boast of identical powerset, ranging from superhuman physicality, magic manipulation, flight invulnerability. Shazam, aka Billy Batson, gets power from Greco-Roman Gods by uttering the Wizard’s name “Shazam.” Similarly, almost five thousand years ago, Teth Adam of Kahndaq got powers from Egyptian Gods (Shu, Heru, Amon Zehuti, Anpu, and Menthu) from the Wizard by uttering his name. In subsequent years, Black Adam’s origin has gone through minor changes, but Teth Adam was the first champion of magic to be chosen by the Wizard in all of them. Depending on which origin is chosen, after gaining powers and being renamed Black Adam, Teth either gets corrupted or, as in some versions, tries to take revenge on his oppressors. As the powers bestowed upon him were non-retractable, Adam gets banished by the Wizard for a thousand years until he gets freed in the modern age by external intervention, effectively becoming a man out of time. Fans who have seen Shazam (2019) might recall a brief projection where the Wizard magically conjures an image to show how Black Adam had caused destruction and the loss of millions of lives while taking revenge.

“Black Adam” used to believe in the ruthlessness of militant justice in his former life. He was one of the enslaved, tortured, and downtrodden during his former life. He lost his close ones to ruthless autocracy. Yet, unlike his golden age counterpart, the modern iteration of “Black Adam” is a more complex, multi-layered individual. He can and will go to any length to protect his family and subjects. At the same time, he believes in the ideals of freedom, equality, and justice. His psyche resides in the gray area, and he sees the world as a binary. Despite being a brutal force of nature who doesn’t hesitate to take life, he also frees his home country, Kahndaq, from a dictator in the present age and proves himself to be its fierce protector. Having characters like “Black Adam” operate among others who are typically designated as good and evil surely gives the DCEU an edge in storytelling. During the first DC Fandome event in 2020, Dwayne Johnson perfectly described his character as a ruthless keeper of justice, positing himself as judge, jury, and executioner.


The First Ever Super Team

Aside from the titular character and related ones, “Black Adam” will also feature the first superhero team in fictional history, the Justice Society of America, or JSA. The Justice Society was created during the golden age of comics (1938–1956) and has acted as a predecessor archetype for many popular superhero teams like the Justice League and Avengers. Key DC characters like Green Lantern, and Flash had their Golden Age counterparts in Jay Garrick, and Alan Scott as members of JSA. Several significant characters like Spectre, Doctor Fate, and Hawkman also made their first appearance in JSA comics. In the modern age, Justice Society and “Black Adam” shared their fair share of history in comics, as in JSA run by Geoff Johns, they teamed up to liberate Kahndaq and also squared off during disagreements. 

As already shown in the trailers, in the movie, we will meet a four-member team of JSA, with Hawkman (Aldis Hodge) and Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan) being the veteran founding members, and Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo) and Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell) being new recruits. Trailers also revealed that the movie will follow the comics route of JSA trying to contain a disillusioned “Black Adam” and later joining forces to face a bigger threat. Longtime readers must have recalled the battle between “Black Adam” and Hawkman in comics after catching a glimpse of it in the trailer. Justice Society’s high heroic ideals come in direct conflict with Black Adam’s version of quick, brutal justice; in this way, this can also be seen as a commentary for the contemporary audience who are gradually getting disenchanted from the traditional moral uprightness of classic heroes in favor of an edgy, diabolical necessary evil version of anti-heroism.


A Roadmap For DCEU

Along with the appearance of JSA, “Black Adam” will try to bring a larger DCEU into its fold. Actor Sarah Shahi has been cast as Professor Adrianna Tomaz, a Kahndaqi freedom fighter. Without the risk of spoilers, we can confirm whose role in the DCEU will be significant, and that she will play a pivotal part in Black Adam’s character development in the future. Intergang, the international crime syndicate of DC Comics, will be present in the movie as the primary antagonist. In the comics, they are powered by the Apokoliptian technology supplied by the New Gods. The trailer suggests they are using advanced technologies in the movie too, and fans are speculating whether Zack Snyder’s “Justice League,” which introduced New Gods in the DCEU, is somehow connected. The villainous demonic character Sabbac will appear as the main antagonist in the movie, and like “Shazam” and “Black Adam,” mob boss Ishmael Gregor begets the power of demons by uttering the acronym SABBAC ( Satan, Aym, Belial, Beelzebub, Asmodeus, and Crateis). His powers and origins might also be connected with the purple gem known as the heart of darkness, which was shown in the animated teaser of “Black Adam” during DC Fandome 2020. Again, the artifact is also closely related to another popular supervillain, Eclipso. A connection between Eclipso and Apokoliptian technology might hint at an overpowering threat looming over the DCEU landscape.

The latest trailer has also given us a brief glimpse of Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller, and it is confirmed that agent Emilia Harcourt (Jennifer Holland) will appear in the movie. This connection with “The Suicide Squad” is oddly similar because in James Gunn’s movie, too, we have found Task Force X, aka The Suicide Squad, assigned to a mission to liberate another fictional DC nation, Corto Maltese. Although it should have been a no-brainer decision to include Shazam in the “Black Adam” movie as both the characters are interconnected by their origin and are arch enemies, for some reason, their inevitable meeting has been delayed to upcoming sequels. However, that didn’t stop the makers and the star himself from teasing a pound-for-pound rumble against the Man of Steel, Superman himself! It has been teased by Dwayne Johnson multiple times that a conflict between these two heavy hitters will take place soon, even to the point that DC’s animated venture ‘League of Superpets,’ produced by him, featured a cameo of “Black Adam” facing Superman. The rumor of Henry Cavill’s version of Superman appearing in a cameo role is doing the rounds on the internet. With Justice League already mentioned in the trailer alongside Justice Society, it is quite clear that DCEU’s much-needed expansion will restart with “Black Adam.”


A New Direction

A major problem that has been plaguing DC’s live-action world-building since 2016 is the lack, or even total absence, of continuity. Although DCEU contents have proven to be more diverse and strongly presented at times and enjoyed acceptance in the majority of character solo entries, unlike their main competitor, Marvel Cinematic Universe or MCU, they have failed to come up with a coherent plan to establish an interconnected DC universe. After Warner Bros. and Discovery merged, situations have unfortunately worsened as multiple cancellations, reshoots, and layoffs have taken place in a short span of time. Under the highly profit-motivated current management, “Black Adam” is going to turn out to be DCEU’s acid test. The visual spectacle, an interconnected narrative, the appearance of JSA, Rock’s star power, and the potential to be a launching pad for multiple projects have already moved this venture in the right direction. New management’s coveted 10-year plan might just get initiated with the movie, given the way the movie will establish several key players and put future plot pieces in place. Dwayne Johnson has been very enthusiastic about the project for a long time and has reiterated on multiple occasions that the hierarchy of power in the DC Universe will change. Needless to say, with a strong entry, “Black Adam” will do that and much more by solidifying its position as a faithful adaptation to hook in older fans and make new ones out of the general audience.



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Siddhartha Das
Siddhartha Das
An avid fan and voracious reader of comic book literature, Siddhartha thinks the ideals accentuated in the superhero genre should be taken as lessons in real life also. A sucker for everything horror and different art styles, Siddhartha likes to spend his time reading subjects. He's always eager to learn more about world fauna, history, geography, crime fiction, sports, and cultures. He also wishes to abolish human egocentrism, which can make the world a better place.

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