If Black Adam offers something different to other superhero movies, it’s the ability to take your typical main character and turn it on its head. Normally, the hero has a big heart and wants to save humanity. But here he’s a hero by default. Furthermore, he’s a very angry one. That’s the beauty of the film. He’s not a conventional superhero, out to save the world, instead he’s someone who has had everything taken away from him and wants nothing other than to be left to grieve in peace. The rest of the film has been done before a million times. A baddie – the villain – aims to seize control and someone with extraordinary powers is needed to intervene and stop them. Viewers will enjoy the action sequences and be enthralled by the visual effects (especially the use of ‘slow motion’, which is reminiscent here of the movie 300), but if they stick around to see how the story pans out, it will be all down to Dwayne Johnson, who seems to have been born for the role. At first as cold as ice, he’s like an ice cube that melts as the film progresses.
Seeing ‘The Rock’ don the green suit of his DC character is a joy. He doesn’t disappoint in this role as a superhero – all those little humorous touches typical of most of his films are there (if not, it just wouldn’t be him). It’s him who saves the day for this production by the Catalan Jaume Collet-Serra. And he does it with the help of another actor who also knows how to lose himself in a role – Pierce Brosnan. At first you might think, what the hell is James Bond doing here? But he turns in a well-crafted and compelling performance in the role of Doctor Fate, who, in a similar way to Marvel’s Doctor Strange, is capable of seeing the future and responsible for seeking alternative outcomes. The same cannot be said for the rest of the cast, which includes a wasted Noah Gregory Centineo, who plays a giant but clumsy superhero, and Quintessa Swindell, who manipulates the wind but adds little to the plot development.
The supporting cast really is so secondary that Dwayne Johnson well and truly outclasses them. That’s why the best thing viewers will take away from the production is his presence and the plot twist. It’s the discovery of who Black Adam really is – a being who didn’t choose his super power, and who had no choice but to somehow overcome the pain of losing his family. Also likely to stay with viewers is the message that justice is not always fair. The Justice Society – consisting of the four superheroes who want to keep Black Adam under lock and key – considers that in order for Teth-Adam to not pose a problem for humanity, given the rage inside him, he must be banished to the bottom of the sea. But is that a just sentence for someone who, with his ‘Shazam’ magic, could be the leader of the people and protect them from evil?
The fact that it’s far from the best superhero movie made so far – or even this year – doesn’t mean Black Adam isn’t winning fans worldwide. In fact, it has the approval of a significant share of the audience. You only have to look at the figures – the film hauled $67 million at the box office in its first weekend in the United States, becoming The Rock’s best opening as a leading man. And globally, it has already garnered another $73 million since its premiere, which means it could be one of the biggest releases of the year, being the first film to break the $50 million barrier in its debut weekend since Thor: Love and Thunder. There’s no doubt the world wants superheroes, but it would be nice if next time both the script and the cast lifted their game a little.