‘Black Adam’ marks a low point for Warner Bros., as its DC Comics empire continues to crumble

Only second behind 'Shazam.'

click to enlarge ‘Black Adam’ marks a low point for Warner Bros., as its DC Comics empire continues to crumble
Photo via Warner Bros. Pictures
There’s a reason you’ve likely seen some recent media reports about turmoil within Warner Bros. Discovery, the parent company responsible for overseeing the DC Extended Universe (“DCEU”) of films based on the popular comics characters.

To understand that turmoil, which is a direct reflection of how deep and wide the chasm of quality and proper planning is between the DCEU and Marvel Studios’ Marvel Cinematic Universe (“MCU”), look no further than the 11th DC film, “Black Adam,” an antihero origin story starring Dwayne Johnson.

This is a character that Johnson has been advocating to star as since 2007 (!?!).

One might think that that might mean that the resulting movie would actually feel like a labor of love, a la Ryan Reynolds’ “Deadpool,” or just be good, you know, like watchable and enjoyable.

One would be wrong.
Black Adam
2 out of 5 stars
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“Black Adam” is the second worst stand-alone DCEU film behind “Shazam!” and fourth worst DCEU movie when counting the team-up adventures, “Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Justice League.”

Am I being harsh?

This is a movie that introduces the Justice Society of America, the precursor to DC’s Justice League, without any fanfare or backstory whatsoever.

This is a movie that introduces two classic DC heroes, Hawkman and Doctor Fate, as well as two lesser-known heroes, Atom Smasher and Cyclone, without any fanfare or backstory whatsoever, other than a few brief flashbacks for Doctor Fate and a single sentence of exposition for Cyclone. That’s more than fans get with Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo), who is introduced during a legitimately WTF video call with Henry Winkler as his uncle, the original Atom Smasher.

For context, imagine if the MCU’s “Ant-Man” had been introduced with absolutely no acknowledgement of Dr. Hank Pym or his amazing suit that helps the hero shrink or grow to giant size.

For fuck’s sake, Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan) is basically the MCU’s Doctor Strange, who got his own stand-alone introductory film prior to joining the Avengers to battle Thanos, and Hawkman is depicted here as the leader of the Justice Society with an impressive lair in Louisiana that’s ridiculously elaborate for a character that many people will have no idea about.

Again, if I’m sounding harsh, it’s only because I’m pissed off that Warner Bros. can’t get its shit together and just make a good goddamn comic book movie.

The irony here, of course, is that Warner Bros. recently made international headlines in August for scrapping a nearly complete “Batgirl” movie because of concerns about that film’s quality.

All the while, Warner Bros. Discovery has continued to stick by Erza Miller, whose origin story “The Flash” is finally supposed to premiere in 2023, six freaking years since his character was first introduced in “Justice League,” despite a slew of criminal arrests and concerning cult-like behavior that would have derailed most other actors.

And, now, two months later, literally on the day that Walter Hamada, the former steward of all things DC, departs the studio against his will, “Black Adam” has arrived as an incoherent slog of CGI and slow-motion fight scenes that’s honestly an interminable viewing experience up to, and including, its ridiculous post-credits scene that marks the return of a fan-favorite superhero for no reason other than to tease a sequel that none of us should have any faith will be any good.

About The Author

John W. Allman

John W. Allman has spent more than 25 years as a professional journalist and writer, but he’s loved movies his entire life. Good movies, awful movies, movies that are so gloriously bad you can’t help but champion them. Since 2009, he has cultivated a review column and now a website dedicated to the genre films...
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