Black Adam is not the typical superhero affair. In fact, it can hardly be called a superhero film in the traditional sense. In Terminator 2, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800 was technically the hero of the movie but operated on a level of choosing violence before asking questions. Dwayne Johnson approaches Black Adam in the same manner as Schwarzenegger. He is a killing machine first and then a savior second. He even has a child and mother to protect much as the T-800 did for John Conner.

Unlike Terminator 2, the narrative has a strange flavor though that might cause some gripes. While the movie has a setup that sets the stage for the rest of the impending chaos, Black Adam feels like a giant two-hour third act in the same manner as walking in on the last episode of Stranger Things Season 4. No information is missing and we as the audience have all the necessary details to understand the story. Black Adam just feels like a massive climax. Even so, what a climax to behold.

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The movie has very little plot. It begins before ancient Babylonian times in the city of Kahndaq. Slaves are digging up a valuable resource called Eternium. The movie does not care to explain the valuable nature of the resource and is more interested in getting to Black Adam throwing mortals around like basketballs. A slave child finds a huge rock of Eternium and uses it to inspire other slaves to feel free in spirit. The dictator of these slaves attempts to kill the child and before they do, ancient wizards save the child to invoke him with the powers of Shazam.

Cut to the present day with Adrianna (Sarah Shari), a freedom fighter against the Kahndaq forces called Intergang. This elite force of militants rides flying motorcycles. When did flying cycles appear in the DCEU? The film has little care to explain this and keeps flying forward. Adrianna summons Teth Adam (AKA Black Adam) and the character unleashes a metaphorical people’s elbow against the entire Kahndaq military forces.

Once the mayhem is resolved, Adam is incapacitated accidentally by the Eternium energy. He is taken to Adrianna’s house where he takes a liking to Adrianna’s son Amon (Bodhi Sabongui). From here Black Adam takes some inspiration from Terminator 2. Adam like the T-800 wakes up and eats violence like Honey Nut Cheerios. Amon talks him down.

Out of nowhere, a new team of superheroes are introduced to the DCEU franchise. This group dubbed the Justice Society consists of Dr. Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo), and Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell). This group of unlikely heroes is sent by Amanda Waller to negotiate the surrender of Teth Adam and his powers, due to his violent past centuries before his resurgence.

The surprising element of Black Adam is the Justice Society feels more established as a superhero team than the Joss Whedon Justice League movie (The Zack Snyder version can be debated amongst the fans). The performers in this team have immense chemistry and Brosnan as Dr. Fate steals the show. Much like Groot in the first Guardians of the Galaxy film, Dr. Fate is the beating heart of Black Adam. And quite frankly, fans deserve more of this character.

The movie has garnered a lot of blowback for having almost no story. But the execution feels extremely similar to Mad Max: Fury Road. It’s not as brilliant on the technical or story aspects as Fury Road but the movie is one big chase scene like that movie.

Aside from that, Black Adam feels the most like a Marvel film than any other DCEU movie. It’s humorous, full of vibrant characters, and easter eggs. Not to mention, this reviewer has not heard a theater scream so loud during a post-credits tease since Nick Fury appeared in the first Iron Man. The audience was so loud, the dialogue was unintelligible.

What might confuse many walking out is why a movie like this is getting slammed while Thor: The Dark World was received better in critical consensus. Not to suggest critics have a bias towards Marvel but considering Black Adam’s crowd-pleasing elements, it does make one wonder if the quality of previous DCEU movies is being treated as « guilty by association. »

Black Adam plays very similarly to the fourth Fast and Furious film. It’s a completely entertaining mess of a movie that lays the groundwork for Fast Five and onward. If DC fans enter the theater with this understanding then they will be more than satisfied by the experience. None of the B-list characters will be remembered and nor will general audiences care, It’s a new beginning but one that shows a lot of potential moving forward.

Black Adam is now in theaters.

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