The biggest problem the movie Black Adam has is that the writing team is mixing decades of lore into one film. It can’t be done when considering the fact that past iterations of this antihero had varied modus operandi. I’m more knowledgeable of the Fawcett era version and early animated takes. Although I kept track of the revisions in later years when DC Comics overhauled the character, the only bits I liked is in how a certain beauty managed to soothe the savage beast who may or may not be Egyptian.
I really wanted a The Scorpion King in-joke with this film, but alas it didn’t happen.
From 1995’s The Power of Shazam, the archaeological discovery of this sleeping hero is used. In the Justice Society of America series, the city he was born in is Kahndaq rather than Ancient Egypt. Finally, that this antihero wants to bring “peace” to this nation is from 2003’s JSA: Black Reign story arc. Even after reading the trade paperbacks of The 52 (Rise and Fall of an Empire and Black Reign) and the film’s pre-release comics–which should’ve been distributed in movie theatres too–this motion picture doesn’t always make sense.
What this flick reveals instead is that The Wizard (from Shazam) gave a worthy individual the power. When he passed it on to another, like in how that aforementioned film plays it out, I knew the ramifications. One particular group of gods may not be happy that anyone can have the stamina of Shu, the swiftness of Horus, the strength of Amon, the wisdom of Zehuti (Thoth), the intensity of Aton, and the courage of Mehen should the host desire it. But we have to remember Shazam’s abilities come from the Greek pantheon of divinity and Teth Adam the Egyptian.
As for whether a war to determine the planet’s mightiest demigod is coming, it’s hard to tell. All this movie does is to show Black Adam wrestling with his conscience about using might than right to rule. It’ll require some beauty to tame this beast.
From 2006’s weekly comic book, The 52, Adrianna Tomaz becomes the love interest. After Adam freed her from enslavement, she doesn’t run away but instead stays to teach him nonviolent ways to solve problems; in the film, the development between her (played by Sarah Shahi) and the angry antihero in this soap opera goes nowhere. And as for why her son Amon (Bodhi Sabongui) is important, nobody has a clue. He’s a young punk who is like Short Round from the second Indiana Jones movie, sometimes helpful but mostly being a wise crack. The two eventually become generals of Adams’ army in the comic books with their powered alter-egos of Isis and Osiris. But we won’t see that until a sequel is made.
During the movie, Teth-Adam’s relationship with her and the boy is tenacious at first. As for hat happens next is too fast to establish them as allies. What they do together is almost like the myth, where the Divine Mother Isis and the god-king Osiris help bring law, order, and civilization to a chaotic society. The big difference is that Black Adam married Isis rather than Osiris. Instead of him dying in order to decide which souls deserve an afterlife, it’s Adam who is the judge, jury, and executioner.
Although the movie and comics aren’t based on the lore, what it shows is how the names by association gets notice. They can get easily get followers.
Unfortunately, this motion picture is very vague regarding any character’s Ancient Egyptian roots. Not even Doctor Fate–who often manifests the Ankh in his spell-casting–talks about how he gained the helmet and where his magic comes from. In the comics, Khalid Nassour was chosen by this pantheon, not Kent Nelson (Pierce Brosnan). Plus, there’s more to the relationship between man and mask which causes the mortal great pain. This film hardly touches on it.
Also, the comic publication tie-in doesn’t touch on Hawkman’s (Aldis Hodge) long and varied history. It shows how he’s like Bruce Wayne/Batman, instead of an alien from the planet Thanagar. One version says he is the reincarnation of Khufu, an ancient Egyptian prince who once clashed with Adam. I’d rather see this conflict as this film’s central plot, since the trailers set them up for a big fight.
Had the yarn been about past lives returning, the problems would get messy when they resume their eternal feud. It can easily be over how to bring peace to the kingdom of Kahndaq. Had Isis been this country’s queen all along and been like 1963’s Cleopatra, I’d be cheering. To watch her manipulate the “historical” Adam (as Mark Anthony) and Hawkman (as Caesar) would’ve been a better concept to play on.
Instead, all we watch is a reimagining of the first X-Men movie. In this story, Black Adam is like Wolverine because two groups are searching for him. Carter Hall has the same resources as Professor X, and both live in a huge estate with an underground bunker that houses his own private plane. By the time we realise who the real bad guy is, it’s too late. Thankfully, this renegade is exactly what the heroes need to save the day.
Despite wonderful cinematics and spot on casting, a comic book motion picture that doesn’t honour the source material is not one at all. Even though other media reports revealed Adrianna’s future superheroic identity, there’s barely a hint when I watched this feature. Instead, all we get is another The Rock movie, where he charms his way through the material more than anything else. But as for that romance fans were hoping to see, it never happens and it’s being saved for when the next chapter of Black Adam’s life as ruler of Kahndaq gets written.
3 Stars out of 5