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Black Adam Review – Cliches Have a New Champion

Black Adam Review - Cliches Have a New Champion
Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Black Adam is a truly puzzling case of just enough originality combined with almost every superhero cliché we’ve experienced since the modern MCU came into its own.

Or perhaps a more accurate catchall term is, as one character puts it, the “superhero industrial complex.”

I myself admit that I walked into the movie knowing practically nothing about this latest hero/anti-hero. I have no fandom to offend. Anyone who has seen a movie featuring the superpowered will recognize several tricks of the trade.

  • The ancient origin story coming to life in the modern world.
  • The race for the obligatory object of power.
  • Epic CGI smackdowns, some of which are set to a kickass song.

Black Adam Feels Like Every Other Warner Bros. Release

Black Adam doesn’t try to pretend that it doesn’t exist in a world that’s not filled with superheroes. It would be a tough sell anyway, given that he receives his powers partly by uttering the word “Shazam.” The film feels like nearly every other Warner Bros. property.

A fresh start was never the goal, anyway. DC is determined to remind audiences they’re building their own universe by including plenty of cameos. These most frequently come from the always formidable Viola Davis, showing up to rule all as Amanda Waller.

She’s not here to sick the Suicide Squad on the movie’s greatest asset, which is no mystery. The only surprise was that it took Dwayne Johnson this long to s it up. Never mind whose side he’s on, either. Johnson proved audiences would root for him as the heel during his years in wrestling.

Can you smell what Black Adam is cooking?
Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

He sells deadpan Chao ic Evil a little too well. It’s up to other characters to mess it up by attempting to justify his actions. The dialogue often features dog whistles, such as “his darkness allows him to do what heroes like you can’t.”

Johnson won’t allow a character suffering from a lack of regard for human life to get in the way of being the hero. Thankfully, some actual heroes show up and have the kind of diversity Disney typically rewards with cancellation. The Justice Society boasts an array of established a d emerging talent. Pierce Brosnan is a magical prophet, Noah Centineo channels his nice guy image to effective comic relief, Quintessa Swindell is a breathtaking cyclone of colors, and Aldis Hodge is their leader Hawkman.

Hawkman Adam’s black-and-white mentality. Due to this, they often come to blows or at least teeter on the brink of it.

Black Adam Feels Like We’re Just Picking Up The Justice League’s Scraps

It would be even more refreshing if they weren’t all variations of heroes we’ve seen before in DC’s competition. All the talent in the world can’t hide that this is a call the Justice League didn’t answer.

The film takes place in the fictional Middle Eastern city of Kahndaq. It offers interesting questions of how heroics would likely play out by a team supported by the powers that be who are more devoted to preserving the status quo than freedom, but just ignore the fact that the mercenaries running it call themselves Intergang if you can.

The people who are sans tights get some of the most interesting stuff to do, even if it’s in another world that owes much of its flourishes to CGI. They’re risking their lives to make their home better. They point out that maybe the heroes should spend less time in a reductive mentality and actually save people.

Sure it’s been done and been done better, but it’s been a while since The Dark Knight. Thankfully, it’s at least entertaining to see a bunch of movie stars play superheroes with some personality. It helps that Black Adam is also an origin story that features a surprise or two.

If you can turn off enough of your brain, there are far worse cases of the already evident critical and audience divide to fume over than Black Adam. Let’s pick our battles and let the people have wh t they want in this case.

Rating

5/10

Written by Andrea Thompson

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