Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was always inevitably going to be a superhero. Like it or not, his child-friendly nature and hulking body just perfectly fit the requirements. However, ever since the very beginning of his acting career (TV: That '70s Show; Film: The Mummy Returns), he has been a controversial actor. This is most likely due to the sudden spike in wrestlers-turned-actors, who, quite frankly, do all have similar vibes on the stage... a wrestler trying to act. So, I arrived at Black Adam with my expectations on the ground. I'm happy to report that although it pretty much goes exactly as you'd expect, it was pretty entertaining. Let's get into it.
The film is pretty much a copy-paste of each superhero film before it, only this time, instead of being bitten by a radioactive spider, being born on another planet, or falling into a vat of toxic waste, our character comes from ancient wizards from the first human civilization. Black Adam focuses heavily on its setting of Khandaq (essentially DC's Egypt) and the constant enslavement and invasion of its people. In fact, the very goal of the movie is to remove foreign invaders from the city, but many different types of obstacles arise.
Black Adam's true self is actually Teth-Adam who is an enslaved father living in 1600 B.C. When the movie's second protagonist, Adrianna (Sarah Shahi), is in trouble, she summons him into the 21st Century using the word "Shazam". Now, if you're like me (and/or haven't seen Shazam!), you may be thinking: "Shazam? That sounds kind of silly." Initially it was until I realized it's an acronym for Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury which are the gods Black Adam receives his powers from. Does it randomly mix Greek, Roman, and Israeli figures? Yes, but don't think about it too hard.
Thus, the film continues as most action-comedy superhero films do in that Adam has much to learn about the modern world while also trying to save it. The very thing that put Adam away for so long is the Crown of Sabbac, a demonic crown that will give the wearer powers beyond their wildest beliefs (of course, inviting evil in). I enjoyed almost all of it as there was almost non-stop action and fun scenes. I also enjoyed how diverse the cast was with a wide mix of Black people, Middle Eastern people, and women. However, I do almost wish it was someone else's movie.
Don't get me wrong, The Rock did great, but he did oftentimes feel like a plank of wood who speaks only in one-liners. If that's how the comic book character actually is, kudos to them being accurate, but I personally was tired of it very quickly. While Adam's past is tragic and interesting, his present isn't giving much to work on. Especially when compared to the other characters.
In this film, we're introduced to the Justice Society (not to be confused with the Justice League) which includes: Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell), and Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo). We only really get brief explanations of who they are and how they got where they are, but I was much more interested in their colorful personalities rather than Adam's blank smolder. In particular, I'm most interested in Doctor Fate and Hawkman. They should have their own movie. Their closeness, sense of justice, and powers are just so fun to watch that I wanted more. I mean, Black Adam is kind of just Superman in a black suit. A man who has telekinesis and can see the future, and a metal bird-man with a mace? Count me in.
The film is trying to revive DC's former glory, it really is, it just doesn't have everything it needs to get there. Luckily, Black Adam isn't as bad as many internet haters want you to think it is. It's a fun, action-packed story of a POC man fighting to redeem both himself and his homeland. While it's easy to dig holes into it (as I, too, have done), it is a solid step in DC's new direction.