Jaume Collet-Serra, who made his directorial debut with Hosue of Wax, takes on this DC film adaptation. Teth-Adam, a former slave from Kahndaq, returns as its champion now that Kahndaq faces a different kind of evil.

The Good:

  • Theme: The film centres around the people of Kahndaq and the fact that they are still under an imposing regime years after the champion, Black Adam, was imprisoned. The running theme throughout the movie, which even hits home when Adrianna Tomaz (played by Sarah Shahi) is speaking to the JSA, is that Kahndaq has been infiltrated by Intergang and that organisation has been oppressing the people of Kahndaq. The idea that the JSA only came to ‘help’ when Black Adam was awoken, to take him down, not while they were suffering shows how they only fight for Justice when it is people who are deemed worthy to be fought for. It is a great theme because it discusses how heroes look different depending on perspective and the people of Kahndaq hammer that home throughout the film when they are unwelcoming of the JSA when they try to take on Black Adam.
  • Justice Society of America: Hawkman and Dr Fate were undoubtedly the film’s best parts. I think Aldis Hodge and Pierce Brosnan had great chemistry, their friendship, to me, was the most emotionally authentic part of the film. I wish they got more and the idea that we may never see this duo again makes me sad. There is a version of this dynamic that can be corny but because Hodge and Brosnan are so good at their jobs it instead left a positive mark on me. Also, why was Dr Fate more instrumental in this film than Doctor Strange was in the Multiverse of Madness? Oop.

The Bad:

  • Dwayne Johnson: There are many things Johnson can do; unfortunately, it does not include deep emotional portrayals. In a lot of ways is fine if the story followed a more Shazam tone but unfortunately, Johnson next to his other castmates just does not level up. I think in a lot of ways Teth-Adam (Black Adam) does subvert expectations when instead of having him be the one chosen to possess the powers of Shazam it was his son, who then immediately died after, who gave him his powers. This explains a lot of Black Adam’s actions after he is woken up again. He is excessively violent and seems to lack a conscious, but above all that he seemed kind of purposeless for the majority of the film. Which, if you remember the beginning part of this film and Shazam, it made no sense for him to be so uninterested in helping the people of Kahndaq be liberated from the invaders known as Intergang.
  • Plot: There is good plot potential here somewhere. The theme was well enough constructed that the conclusion could have been more of a moral one instead of having this big, cliche CGI fight in the final minutes of the film. I don’t know if this was to show the strength of Black Adam because the film already spent ample time, while he was taking on the JSA doing this so it was a completely unnecessary thing to try and hammer home AGAIN. The film could have ended with the JSA aiding the people of Kahndaq against Intergang. This could have led to a discovery about Apokolips or the JSA having to disband or be reprimanded, I don’t know but it made me angry that you would have someone like Hawkman and Dr Fate, who have been around as long as they have been, lack empathy for the people of Kahndaq and Black Adam. Even if the younger ones, Atom Smasher and Cyclone, who come from a more progressive generation were the ones trying to get the older ones to see sense that could have been a good angle. The JSA were glorified hall monitors and it’s a bit disappointing.

I have a lot of questions about why certain JSA members were chosen to appear in this film. Obviously, Hawkman and Dr Fate are big names but I wonder why Atom Smasher and Cyclone were chosen. I think the use of their powers was really well done and I like the idea of Atom Smasher being this big giant clumsy kid and Noah Centenio being charismatic enough that it works. I guess I wonder why them and not Starman/Stargirl? Why not Wildcat or Dr Midnite? I keep wondering this because I feel like DC restricting the use of certain heroes because of their use on TV (Geoff Johns being the creator of Stargirl on the CW and also a producer on this film) hurt DC films more than it helps. We haven’t been able to see a Green Lantern Live Action (despite a brief scene in Zack Snyder’s Justice League) since Ryan Reynolds and Geoff Johns ill-produced 2011 film because we have been promised a Green Lantern Corps film or show. Is that still happening? I say this all to point out that the addition of Atom Smasher and Cyclone despite their great suits felt like an afterthought used to increase the numbers of the JSA and not actually functioning helpful team members and I don’t think I am alone in this assessment. That being said I love Hawkman’s irritation with Atom Smasher, it made me giggle a bit.

The need to connect Black Adam to the DCEU sometimes works because you have reference points for a lot of the characters, especially when talking about the struggle of Kandaq and the fact that it is Amanda Waller who sends for the JSA to capture Black Adam and that she has a facility that holds prisoners BUT since when is Superman on her speed dial? It actually would have been more dope to see Waller send one of the Shazam family members after Black Adam because that is someone in his super-powered lane and also it would tease a superhero match-up that is comic-fated.

Shazam has a sequel coming out and I think if I was Zachary Levi I would be offended that Dwayne Johnson only seems to want to square off with Henry Cavill’s superman and not him, in my opinion.

Is Black Adam the best superhero film ever? No, but there are parts of this film that really are good and if you are itching to maybe see a Justice Society film then head on over to the theatres and hopefully the constant good reviews for Hodge and Brosnan lead to a potential prequel.

Rating: 5.5/10