Personal Thoughts on the Black Adam Movies

A couple of things to make clear right off the bat. I’m not going to focus on anything that could be a spoiler in this post, but I’m open to discussing those things in the comments. And I should be up front…I’m both a big Black Adam and JSA fan. I’ve read a lot of their comics and was really looking forward to it. I might be going a little easy on this film than most people are, and if you feel I am, that might be a reason why.

Anyway, the movie itself. To reference a Clint Eastwood movie - it has some good, some bad, and some…standard stuff. A good amount of the criticism around this film points out how it relies on a lot of tropes from previous comic book movies. As someone who watches a lot of movies, I should remind people something regarding cliches & tropes. They aren’t inherently good or bad. It’s all about how you utilize the tropes, present them to the audience, and if you do anything unique or new with them. In regards to this movie, the tropes and cliches used are overall OK. Whether or not you are willing to put up with them depends on your feelings regarding CB movies in general.

I guess I should focus on the good stuff. Dwayne Johnson is very good as Teth/Black Adam. A lot of the comedy in the movie centered around him - as someone who doesn’t realize he’s being funny when doing certain things - do land for me. But he is also pretty brutal…in a movie with a PG-13 rating. I do see him burn some people until they are skeleton though, so I can’t be that upset. There are also small details regarding the people of Kahndaq I appreciated. For example, there is a point in the movie where they yell “Boo!” & jeer Hawkman for saving a couple of Intergang members from falling to their deaths. Then they cheer for Adam for doing the very things that the JSA are called in to put a stop to. And a couple of characters point out to the JSA that despite their claim to maintaining global stability, they have never once step foot in this country despite them being controlled by Intergang for a couple of decades. It’s only when they get a hero of their own that they come in and challenge anybody - not just anybody, but the person that is actually doing any work to help free the country. There are a few moments like this that I do appreciate.

A few more good things to point out is I like a fair bit of the JSA. The Justice Society is one of my favorite teams, so I was looking forward to seeing what they are like. As far as costumes go, they all look good. Hawkman & Doctor Fate look the best. And there are a lot of shots in general in the movie that I like. Although I should point out that some criticisms of the film point out to some obvious CGI. I can’t really put the blame on this specific movie for something like that. At this point, we are all familiar with how VFX artists have pointed out how much stress and work is put on them because of CB movies. Plus, keep in mind, Hollywood in general with any blockbuster has pushed us to a point where we are just too used to computer generated effects. So yes, I did notice some of it. But I could still get into most of the action in the movie.

The time has come. Let’s talk about the things I’ve taken issues with it. Atom Smasher & Cyclone look good, but they aren’t essential to the plot of the movie. And Smasher in general they turn into the comic relief in a way that just gets annoying. There is a character named Amon, the son of Adrianna, that can get a little annoying in certain scenes as well. Hawkman…as mentioned earlier, I like his look. And the actor is putting in the work. But I don’t like the way it is written. His character has the stance of Black Adam is a bad guy that needs to be taken down no matter what. He doesn’t waver from that but I can’t figure out why he is so set in that view. The other older JSA member, Doctor Fate, seems to be the most like-able and that’s partly because he doesn’t see Black Adam in absolutes. If the movie spent time explaining more about Hawkman - his origin story, his reasoning for reforming the JSA, why he feels the way he does - then I can like him more. As is, he’s a character that I want to like but just can’t get into as much as I want.

The story in general has a lot of standard set-up. And a final villain that isn’t all that memorable. He looks a little cool, but that’s about it. Now, without getting into spoilers, I’m going to address one major change this movie could have done to improve itself. Without giving too much away, the main plot centers around this magical crown that ultimately powers the big bad. There is some fighting between Black Adam & JSA, but they are forced to move on from that to focus on the plot. But…what if we got rid of the crown plot entirely? There is no big bad - the entire conflict and all the fights are between Black Adam & the JSA. We focus much more on how the people of Kahndaq view the invading hero team. We’ll then have more room to focus on characters like Hawkman and explain why they are acting the way they are. Maybe we can get a division within the JSA where the young heroes - Atom Smasher & Cyclone - actually start to object against Hawkman’s leadership and want to let Black Adam remain. If we give the time to give Hawkman a backstory to explain why he is so stubborn, he can be the on screen threat with Waller as a background threat that can continue to go up against Black Adam in future projects. Some of you might not think a plot without any clear cut bad guy can work, but I will then point you to “Deadpool 2”. The entire conflict of that movie was based on what the heroes should do regarding the potential future of a mutant kid. A movie where the conflict is based on a difference of opinion between the characters - not a secret villain that is manipulating everything from the background. A similar kind of plot with no clear bad guy could have been applied to this movie to really focus on the how Black Adam really tip-toes the line between good and evil.

Long story short, this is an all right movie. If I had to give a grade, I would probably go with 2 and a half stars out of 5. Not that bad, but definitely could have been better.

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That grade sounds about right to me.

I was surprised I was enjoying the film as much as I was, 45 minutes into it. Cool action, the pace was moving along, things weren’t very predictable, I was not minding at all that we were spending long stretches with non-powered, original characters.

That had changed by the end of the film, though. Then my reaction to the “regular joe” characters was “what the hell are we still spending time with them for?”. They far overstay their welcome.

The biggest problem for the film is the editing. Like the first Suicide Squad movie, this film just can’t bear to let any scene go on for any length or have room to breathe. And they barely qualify as “scenes” by the end of it; it’s become one brief shot connected to another, (maybe related, maybe not) shot. And the prevalence of the post-production dialogue looping of made this stand out more. SO many pieces of dialogue where you don’t see the speaker’s lips and they’re supposedly saying it as they run or skateboard or fly. It’s so bad that if a character’s line is more than 5 words long, it is unlikely you’ll see the speaker’s face for the entire line. Scenes stop functioning and instead feel like 100 disparate shots mashed together in rapid progression. So viewer involvement in the plot somewhat goes by the wayside. And with the plot failing to hold attention, the jokes, which all seemed to land well through the first half of the movie, now stand out as forced and not funny, since the jokes, like the camera shots, are all standalone 3-second bits, not part of a believable exchange between characters.

Due to the frantic pacing, as we get into the lulls in the action in the latter part of the movie, I felt myself getting more and more ready for it to end.

The Justice Society: the characters were all cool as separate individuals, but didn’t feel like a team at all. Why are they even together? Do they all have explosive chips in their necks? Hawkman and Dr. Fate both give good performances, but those performances are hampered by the editing. The way they promptly leap into “Good guys don’t kill” debate is not very convincing. They’ve got PLENTY of other things to worry about. Since we’re not familiar with this version of the JSA, their insistence that they never kill rings a little hollow, because their characters aren’t developed enough for us to read those traits into them. Giving the JSA more plot-related reasons to object to Black Adam would have made it easier to buy into the animosity. B v S did a much better job of building up the list of grievances Supes and Batman have with each other. With the Justice Society, it is pretty much just their repeated claim that Not Killing means everything to them

The film closes with some memorable action a cool, lingering shot of Black Adam (finally, in the closing seconds, a lingering shot!) and a cool post-credits scene. The action works well throughout, with the editing not a problem for those portions. They do an effective job of getting you to root for Black Adam. Dwayne Johnson’s character and performance aren’t objectionable at all. The flashback revelations on his past worked effectively for my money

I previously noted here that the reviews were tepid, so I wondered whether that colored my take of the film. I honestly did find myself rooting for the film for a good long stretch of it. My fellow reviewers, Zontarr Jr, and Zontarr Jr Sr, both rated it as at least fairly good. Zontarr Jr. ranked Black Adam ahead of the latest Venom movie, JLA and WW 84, but inferior to Aquaman. Zontarr Jr Sr gave Black Adam a B.

So maybe it will find a broad audience, despite the reviews, and maybe word of mouth will be pretty good. For me, despite a lot of pleasant surprises sprinkled throughout the movie, it failed in some fundamental areas.

Speaking of editing, they made a weird choice during the 5,000 years back flashback. They used CGI to put Dwayne’s face on another person’s body to show who he was before getting powers. Except that just comes off as weird and a bit creepy. They didn’t need to put his face on anyone. Just have a completely different actor portray him. In “Shazam” its not like they used CGI to alter Billy’s face to look more like Zachary Levi

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That worked convincingly for me - certainly more believable than the Skinny Steve Rogers beginning to Captain America. What I didn’t think made sense in that section was the suggestion that Shazam powers are something that you can just elect to transfer elsewhere. The Wizard does a “talent search” before awarding the powers, so no way he is passing flight on to you as something you can re-gift.

Ironic that you say that, because i was completely fin with that. The comics have long established that someone like Billy can share his powers with those he deem to be his family. And the comics used the same thing with Black Adam regarding Isis and her brother in the “52” comic series

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Someone needs to start a discussing room so I can talk about the movie because there’s something I need to say that I really want to say so when someone does let me know

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You could get some thoughts off your chest right now

If I do it’ll be a spoiler

I have a feeling what you might want to talk about…. Dr. Fate?

That was so cool seeing him yes that and the post credit

Maybe there’s somewhere else we can chat so we don’t spoil stuff for those haven’t seen the movie, although I’m one who is very negative about the film in general.

See I had a different reaction to it because I was never a huge black Adam fan so I didn’t really follow much about his stories so if other people watching it big fans of the comic series and big fans of the character then I went to completely different I enjoyed the film as a two hour entertaining action-packed

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Now what i will say about Dr Fate that I didn’t like how easily he was in control the whole time but he could take off the helmet whenever he wanted I did not like that cuz the helmet supposed to take control and never let you take the helmet off

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I’m not familiar with how the character works and his history. Care to recommend some stuff to read?

Actually, you could read a bit of him in the 1999 JSA title from Geoff Johns. It reintroduces the character after killing off the 90s version in the first issue, making the new Fate the son of Hawkman. This title includes the storyline “Black Reign” that also has Fate in a major role

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I’ve seen some reviews on Here, but the thread was created prior to release and includes spoilers in description- despite not knowing when that was included, so I think either is fine. If posts should be merged to a single thread, then one more noticeable with spoiler and review in title (like show reviews and The Batman movie) should be made.

Instead of making another post, I’ll put my review here as I recently saw it and hide it as the post was created to not initially go over spoilers, but comments can.

Review

The movie was not what I expected.

Before seeing the film, I expected Adrianna Tomaz to become Isis (as some articles credited Sarah Shahi for both names), Doctor Fate to be the leader, Hawkman to have the most likable personality, Doctor Fate to beat Black Adam in combat, and Black Adam to be more villainous.

After seeing the film, it was worse than I expected. There were sequences that were cool the first time or two, but became excessive. For instance, the slow-mos. When Black Adam used it against Intergang outside his prison, it made sense- to show how fast he thinks and his intellect in planning all of their deaths before they could react. Same with Cyclone showing how fast she is. But, once it was established, time that could’ve gone to expand backgrounds or character interaction went to more slow-mos. If the movie kept the pace like the very first Black Adam fight scene (in the prison), I think Black Adam would’ve been more terrifying because that was some intense speed.
I didn’t like this version of Doctor Fate. In his Golden Age comics, he eventually became a medical doctor and I was hoping that would be incorporated in this Kent Nelson. Then, his powers. He was described by Hawkman to be on a “god level” and then is easily beaten by Black Adam. From what I choose to emphasize on Doctor Fate’s feats is that he once beat the Spectre, one of the most powerful DC Comics characters. I unfortunately had it spoiled (thank you YouTube [part of why I saw it sooner]) that Doctor Fate sacrifices himself. This was one of the dumbest actions in the movie. While not mentioned in film, if Hawkgirl didn’t show, she may have recently died and reincarnated, not yet finding Hawkman. So, whoever wrote that sequence should’ve found a way to twist the plot if needed where Fate attempts to sacrifice himself, but Hawkman bites the bullet. Also, if he is the Lord of Order, he should’ve beaten a force of chaos like Sabbac. To reference a similar mythology, it’s like Apep beating Ra. On top of that, Fate was wrong. The same vision he saw (or at least that the audience was aware of) still occurred. Yes, it changed because Hawkman made a clone from touching Fate’s helmet, if all four fought Sabbac, Fate may have changed that from happening. While on it, why did the helmet let Hawkman touch it during the fight, but then disintegrate after?.
As far as music, the score was good, but I found the songs with lyrics disjointed. “Baby Come Back” was funny as it reminded me of Transformers, but “Paint it Black” played at an odd time with the main significance to usher Black Adam. I also haven’t read that anyone else had this problem, but there were certain lines of dialogue where the background music seemed louder, so I didn’t quite hear it.
As for Black Adam, he initially acted as I thought when he picked Amon up and moved him out of his way, but I thought his comic counterpart would’ve done that sooner or would’ve pushed him out of his way. This version seemed milder to the innocent than I would’ve expected. The gunslinger showdown that he saw from the movie made me rather uncomfortable from how expected and extensive that scene was. Same goes for him and his catchphrase subplot.
Another bittersweet moment is the flashbacks. It started off fine, but became excessive.

As for what I enjoyed, the opening sequence was incredible. While it can be similar to other movies, I like the origins of Black Adam prior to modern day.
The next sequence was good when Adrianna, her brother, Ishmael, and Samir were escaping. Samir reminded me of Inspector Walters from His Dark Materials mainly because of the mustache.
In connection to that, enjoyed Lorne Balfe as the composer for similar reasons.
Like above, Black Adam’s first fight scene was awesome.
The special effects were also incredible in displaying Kahndaq, the underworld prison, costuming, and fight sequences.
I was impressed with Doctor Fate’s Ankh and that it was used twice.
What I liked most were surprisingly the characters Atom Smasher and Cyclone. I actually liked some of Atom Smasher’s jokes and I thought, while each are their own, he could be the DC equivalent to Spider-Man from films in terms of quips. Having Cyclone offer him the food, push him out of the plane, walk on him in his 50 foot form to make sure he’s alive, and provide some wind for Amon with the cape showed how big her heart was (one of my correct predictions).

I’m sure I’m missing some good moments, but overall, I have mixed thoughts on this movie. While the whole time I watched it, I was thinking this would be a fun world to live in (one of the main reasons a story can captivate), more so than how Gotham was portrayed in The Batman, the world building was replaced with slow-mos and character development was replaced with repeated sequences. This may be a film that is better the second time, when my expectations are lower (as I obviously know what to expect- more than what was spoiled, thanks to people posting videos on day one online), but it isn’t one I’m going to see in theaters again. I recommend seeing this for the $5 or so ticket price or waiting until it’s on HBO Max.

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I loved this movie. It was action packed and entertaining. No “hidden agenda” written into the storyline like disney does with the marvel movies. Good for you DC for making a good, entertaining superhero (anti-villain) movie!!

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Welcome to the community.

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Agreed, & welcome to the DC Community :slightly_smiling_face:.

I personally don’t like it. It was too cheesy and feel too rushed. The best part of the movie was honestly Dr. Fate.
I’m someone that prefers quality over quantity and this was just not it. This felt like WW82 or the first Suicide Squad. The movie was just too “popcorn movie” for me.

I can’t believe this takes place in the same unvierse as BvS and Zack Snyder’s JL because those 2 movies are a bit more artistic and cohesive. Black Adam was not a good movie.