A Step in the Right Direction


Ned Riddle, Staff Writer

Dwayne (“The Rock”) Johnson is back and more heroic than ever in Black Adam released on October 21. 

Black Adam is Johnson’s first foray into the world of superhero action films, a genre defined by the multi-billion dollar Marvel Cinematic Universe or MCU. Interestingly though, The Rock is the coverboy for a supposed “new era” of comic book superhero films, as major Marvel rival Detective Comics (“DC”) comics tries yet again to impress audiences and compete in the cinematic ring.

Black Adam is far from DC comics first rodeo in adapting their characters to a cinematic format. If you’re familiar with DC comics and their history with cinema, it’s about as rocky as Dwayne Johnson’s nickname. 

Multiple attempts to jumpstart a “DC Cinematic Universe,”most notably the ill-fated Justice League in 2017, have fallen flat and made many wonder how DC is going to compete. All of this has put a bit of a spotlight on the new DC blockbuster Black Adam. And has it delivered? Sorta.

Black Adam follows the story of an ancient Egyptian god finding his way in the modern world after being awoken from a thousands-year-long slumber in Egypt. 

The movie fixes many of the core issues that critics have cited over the years with DC movies as a whole. Issues such as poor pacing, underdeveloped characters, and overly gloomy melodrama.

If this premise sounds perfect for a goofy, lighthearted action-comedy hybrid, it’s because it is. 

In fact, Black Adam is somewhat of a breath of fresh air, however its inconsistent tone is jarring to say the least.

Black Adam initially adopts a dark, depressing tone at the start of the movie. It’s almost deceivingly dark, as it mixes in tongue and cheek moments throughout the slog of the bleak narrative, and by the end, it’s a full blown comedy.

One moment, Johnson’s character will be portrayed as evil and unwilling to help humanity, making the story feel hopeless. The next moment, Johnson will be put in a comedic situation where he tries to learn “modern culture,”adopting a cliche plot-point from countless films before it.

The writers seemed to have been intent on making the character Black Adam a villain who ends up relinquishing his evil self to become a hero by the end, but they chickened out on actually making Black Adam evil at all. 

If anything, Black Adam just seems uninterested in humanity’s problems, and then suddenly he becomes invested by the end. Although the pacing is fairly decent, the payoff of Black Adam becoming a hero is weak due to his vague morals right from the beginning.

Overall, if Black Adam had a more consistent tone, and stuck to either goofy or dark, it would have been a much better movie. A dark tone is actually quite rare in the superhero genre, and Black Adam’s initial promise of a more grounded, dark take on the superhero genre was enticing. But the poor execution mixed with the “playing it safe” approach that the writers took, made it a step up from its predecessors, but only a small one.