The world needed a hero. It got “Black Adam.” The long-awaited superhero vehicle from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson finally arrives, centering on a former “Shazam!” villain turned antihero being pursued by the Justice Society while trying to prevent the apocalypse. In this origin story, Teth Adam is a mortal slave in the ancient city of Kahndaq who is bestowed the powers of Shazam by The Wizards. Entombed for 5,000 years, he is awakened by treasure seekers, both peaceful and malevolent.
Being the antihero, Teth Adam has little regard for the lives of anyone who stands in his way. Those who oppose him, are dealt with . . . violently. Blood and body parts are spilled. The Justice Society, comprised of Hawkman, Dr. Fate, Cyclone, and Atom Smasher, are summoned to reign him in, setting up a series of visually spectacular battles and ultimately an understanding between the two opposing forces. They discover they have a much more sinister enemy to fight, one that summons the powers of Satan to unleash hell on earth.
The story slowly reveals key points of Teth Adam’s history, and he is forced to confront his own rage and violent tendencies. The other heroes, who maintain a strict moral code of saving all human life, eventually start to make inroads into his character, chipping away at his anger and bitterness. Through the process, the antihero becomes more humble and a little more human, finally becoming a true hero to his city.
The film is certainly designed to be a visual spectacle more than anything and there are some memorably framed scenes that action lovers in particular will appreciate. At the same time, Teth Adam’s emotional journey adds more depth to what seems to be a one-dimensional figure in the beginning. Members of the society and a family that befriends Teth Adam also add some levity in the middle of the action.
“Black Adam” will bring in big audiences, including a good mix of superhero fans and those coming to see one of the biggest actions stars in the world. Teens and young adults will love it, but parents of young children may want to bypass due to the violence, a storyline involving black magic, and frequent uses of profanity.