Dwayne Johnson’s long-awaited superhero movie, Black Adam, has finally hit theaters, and the DC Extended Universe has been shaken up like never before. Like many other movies in the DCEU, this one has been released to a divisive critical reception, but it still proves The Rock’s claim that he was “born to play” the character. All in all, the film has turned the titular antihero into a new powerhouse that will undoubtedly have lasting ramifications for the DCEU (DC Extended Universe). Here’s an analysis of DC’s latest movie and what its end means for its cinematic universe.
Around the year 3,000 BC, in the country of Kahndaq, a young slave rebels against the tyrannical king Anh-Kot, who seeks to forge the Crown of Sabbac with “Eternium” crystals to obtain the powers of Hell. But before the boy is executed for starting a rebellion against the king, he is rescued by the wizard Shazam, who makes him his champion by endowing him with the power of the Egyptian gods. The champion kills Anh-Kot before he can don the crown and frees Kahndaq from his reign of terror.
In present-day Kahndaq, Adrianna Tomez and her team of freedom fighters seek the Crown of Sabbac to keep it out of the hands of Intergang, the technologically advanced syndicate that controls their country. Though they locate and acquire the crown in Adam’s “tomb,” Adrianna is cornered at gunpoint by the Intergang, revealed to be secretly run by her colleague and descendant of King Anh-Kot, Ishmael Gregor. But before she can be shot, Adrianna awakens the champion, Teth-Adam, from his centuries-long slumber, decimating the Intergang legions with ease.
Seeking to suppress Adam’s destructive vigilantism, Amanda Waller (who once served as head of the Suicide Squad) dispatches the Justice Society of America to arrest him and take him into captivity. This superhero team consists of Kent Nelson (Doctor Fate), Albert Rothstein (Atom Smasher), Maxine Hunkel (Cyclone) and their leader, Carter Hall (Hawkman).
As Adam confronts Intergang soldiers who threaten Adrianna and her son, Amon, who becomes Adam’s friend. During this battle, the JSA fly in his plane and stop Adam from killing two soldiers. Even with his combined powers, the JSA are unable to contain Adam and his overwhelming power, but decide to forge an uneasy alliance to rescue Amon after the Intergang kidnaps him for hiding the crown.
At this point, the people of Kahndaq see Adam as their savior to fight the Intergang and despise the JSA for opposing Adam. This moment makes for intriguing social commentary, with Adrianna even criticizing the JSA for not helping her country overthrow her oppressors beforehand. However, Adrianna and the JSA discover that Adam is not the hero the legends say he is.
They learn that Adam lost control of his powers in ancient times and had destroyed most of Kahndaq the day he overthrew Anh-Kot, prompting Shazam and his fellow mages to imprison Adam. Not only that, Adam later reveals that he wasn’t even the boy the wizards made champion. In reality, they chose Adam’s son, Hurut, who passed on his powers to his father to save his life after Anh-Kot’s assassins attacked him. Adam survived, but Hurut was immediately shot dead by the king’s assassins, who had also murdered Adam’s wife Isis. Having lost his family, Adam was consumed with rage and murdered the king seeking revenge, not justice.
Finally, the heroes locate Ishmael and give him the crown in exchange for Amun. But now that he has it, Ishmael decides to kill Amon anyway. Adam manages to save Amun and kill Ishmael, though the Adam nearly kills the young man after losing control of his powers again. Choosing not to allow himself to hurt anyone else, Adam returns to his human form by saying “Shazam”. He then turns himself in to the JSA, letting Waller put him into suspended animation.
Unfortunately, the JSA realizes that Ishmael wanted Adam to kill him, as the Crown allowed him to return from Hell as the demon Sabbac, Shazam’s evil antithesis. The JSA then confront Sabbac on Kahndaq, with Doctor Fate sacrificing himself to stop him and free Adam from his prison. After transforming back into his superhuman form, Adam flies back to Kahndaq and fights Sabbac, while Adrianna and Amon lead a revolt when the demon summons an army of the damned. This climactic battle ends with Hawkman helping Adam defeat and break Sabbac in half, causing the villain’s diabolical army to disappear.
With peace restored to Kahndaq, the JSA take their leave, and Adam takes his seat on the throne, only to decide that being a king is not for him. He then destroys the throne and chooses to let the people of Kahndaq rule themselves. However, Adam still decides to look to the country as his protector and takes the name “Black Adam”. But he waits, there is more.
In the film’s mid-credits scene, Adam meets Amanda Waller through a hologram, and the latter demands that he stay within Kahndaq’s borders or suffer the consequences, as she and the rest of the world now they feel threatened by him. Although Adam says that no one on Earth can stop him, Superman comes down from the sky and approaches Adam, saying that they should talk. Thus, Henry Cavill makes the long-awaited return of him as the Man of Steel, which appears to be another step in getting the DCEU back on track.
For a time, DC and Warner Bros. plans for their cinematic universe seemed all over the place, as Cavill had left his role behind and the films had little to no connection to each other. Despite numerous demands from fans, Warner Bros. seemed interested in ignoring almost everything established before Justice. League, including Cavill’s Superman. But thanks to Dwayne Johnson and the new management brought in after Discovery’s merger with Warner Bros., audiences can finally see Black Adam battle Superman in the DCEU soon.