Black Adam’s Biggest Comic Book Changes
Warning! SPOILERS for Black Adam.Here are the biggest changes that DC’s Black Adam made to the comics. Black Adam is the latest movie in the DCEU and is centered around its titular protagonist, Black Adam. The movie revolves around Black Adam being revived into the modern world after being sealed away in Ancient Kahndaq and having to find his place in the world while dealing with Intergang, the Justice Society, and eventually the demon Sabbac.
Black Adam is the first appearance of the titular character in a live-action film, and these are the biggest changes that were made from how Black Adam and the supporting cast are depicted in the comics. Black Adam is largely faithful to how its characters are depicted, but there are some notable differences regarding the backstories, powers, and overall characterizations. Some changes are the result of DC’s Black Adam taking elements from different eras of the comics, but others appear to simply be the movie going for a different depiction of the characters from the comics.
Black Adam’s origin in the movie is based largely on his New 52 origin, but there are some changes to it. Just like in the New 52, Black Adam, as Teth-Adam, was a slave in ancient Kahndaq, but rather than be enslaved by Ibac, he was enslaved by Ahk-Ton, a DC villain who killed his original family in his post-Crisis origin story. Also similar to New 52, Teth-Adam shared his role of the wizard’s champion with a boy in his family; in the comics, it was his nephew, Aman, but in Black Adam, it was his son, Hurut, who was also the son of DC Comics’ Black Adam pre-Flashpoint. As for how Teth-Adam ended up as the sole champion, in the comics, he killed Aman so he could have full control of the wizard’s power and destroy Ibac’s army. However, in Black Adam, it happened because when Hurut shared his powers with Teth-Adam to save his life, a now de-powered Hurut was killed by an archer, thus leaving his father as the sole champion.
In both The Power of Shazam! and the New 52, Black Adam is introduced to the DC Universe after being sealed away by the wizard for thousands of years, and that’s also the basis for DC’s Black Adam. However, while The Power of Shazam! and the New 52 had him be released by, respectively, Theo Adam and Shazam! villain Doctor Sivana for selfish reasons, Theo more so than Sivana, but Black Adam had Adrianna release him so he would save her and Karim from Intergang. From there, Adam would go on to dismantle Intergang, defeat Sabbac, and make himself Kahndaq’s hero, whereas in both versions of his debut in the comics, the first thing he does is to try and kill Shazam as revenge for the wizard imprisoning him, and he would then continue engaging in various villainous acts before overthrowing Kahndaq’s government and installing himself as ruler.
In addition to Black Adam’s origin and revival, the movie also makes notable changes to the character’s personality. For example, the comics’ version of Adam’s origin story has him take control of either Egypt or Kahndaq and be sealed away for his cruelty, but in 2022’s Black Adam, he never tried to take over Kahndaq after killing Ahk-Ton. Instead, he is sealed away simply for losing control of his powers in his anger. Additionally, he focuses primarily on fighting the villainous Intergang and Sabbac and never willingly gets civilians hurt or causes property damage. His conflict with the Justice Society is him just wanting them to leave Kahndaq as opposed to him truly wanting to kill them. The biggest contrast between the movie and the comics, however, comes from the ending where instead of becoming the ruler of Kahndaq, as he’s known to be in the comics, Adam decides to just be Kahndaq’s hero, a decision that highlights how this version of the character doesn’t have the same desire for power that he has in the comics.
Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam isn’t the only character to have gone through changes in the movie, and there are notable ones to be had for his supporting cast. Black Adam features Adrianna Tomaz, Black Adam’s wife who can become the superpowered figure Isis, but the movie depicts her as a normal human with no romantic involvement with Adam to be found. Amon Tomaz also appears in the movie, but instead of being Adrianna’s brother and Adam’s superpowered sidekick, Osiris, Amon also has no powers and was reworked into being Adrianna’s son. The role of her brother was given to the original character Karim Tomaz.
The villains in Black Adam also have some differences in the movie compared to the comics. Intergang, for example, is typically an adversary of Superman and the minions of the DC villain Darkseid, but there’s nothing to suggest that they have a connection to either of them in the movie. There are also notable changes in the movie’s main villain, Sabbac. For starters, as someone who’s normally one of Shazam’s villains in the comics, his being in conflict with Black Adam is, naturally, completely original. Sabbac’s origin has also been changed, as while the comics made Ishmael a Russian gangster who gained his powers by killing the original Sabbac, Timothy Karnes, Ishmael in the movie is a Khandaqi citizen who became Sabbac after tricking Adam into killing him so he could activate the power of the Crown of Sabbac. Ishmael in the movie is also the descendant of Ahk-Ton, but in the comics, he isn’t connected to Ahk-Ton or anyone else from Adam’s ancient past.
Another key part of Black Adam is how it features the first appearance of DC’s Justice Society in a live-action film, and like other characters in the movie, they’ve gone through some changes. Albert Rothstein a.k.a. Atom Smasher, for example, is stated to be the nephew of the original Atom Smasher, but in the comics, Albert was the original Atom Smasher and his link to the world of superheroes was being the godson of the Golden Age Atom. Hawkman’s character is largely identical to the comics, but the movie appears to have cut out the core element of him being in a constant cycle of reincarnation; this is further enforced by how the tie-in comic to the movie has Hawkman trapped in an illusion of his biggest fears, yet nothing relating to reincarnation ever comes up. Finally, while Pierce Brosnan’s Doctor Fate is a largely faithful representation of the character from the comics, Black Adam does make him weaker than he normally would be. In the comics, Doctor Fate is one of the most powerful magic users in the DC Universe, if not the most powerful, so a villain like Sabbac would normally have no chance against him. Yet, Black Adam had Sabbac completely overpower Doctor Fate and eventually kill him.