The latest offering from the DC comics movie universe explores the darkness that anyone can experience when facing betrayal, grief, anger or other anything else stemming from painful events or happenings in life. With the right people to help and an open heart, even those experiences can hold sparks of hope. Such is the story of Black Adam.
Let's be honest from the very start. Teth Adam (Dwayne Johnson), as he's called throughout the film, is not a hero, he's an anti-hero – with hero potential. He's portrayed, not as evil, but as super angry and the anger causes him to do some really bad things.
Welcome to Kahndaq, Black Adam's home. Imagine a Middle Eastern-like country that has been under oppression for centuries. And the suffering people have been in rebellion against their oppressors for just as long.
In the present day, the rebellion is led by Adrianna (Sarah Shahi), an Indiana Jones-type who wants to find the crown of Eternium, forged by an evil king in days past. The crown and the right words – Shazam! – will call forth a long-banished Champion. What she gets is Teth Adam, full of anger at his 5,000-year exile who immediately starts killing everyone in sight with his lightning bolts of doom.
Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam in "Black Adam." © 2022 DC Films/Warner Bros. All Rights Reserved.
Enter the JSA, the Justice Society of America, whose mission it is to keep beings like Teth Adam in check. Dispatched to Kahndaq are Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell), Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo), and Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan). Fate and Hawkman have been around for a while and are the best of friends. Cyclone and Atom Smasher are the new kids on the block. Atom Smasher is literally slipping into his superhero suit for the very first time. His bumbling attempts at herodom provide some light in the darkness.
For a believing audience, the ethics of this film present a quandry. Adrianna's son, Amon (Bodhi Sabongui), idolizes Adam. After all, he's supposed to be the champion the people have been waiting for. Meanwhile, Hawkman is trying to get it through Adam's thick skull that heroes don't kill people. Well, Adam is having none of that, seeking only to wreak havoc on the current tormentors of his homeland, Intergang and their leader Ishmael (Marwan Kenzari). But the JSA doesn't quit, aiding in the fight against Intergang but without the whole killing people thing.
Dwayne Johnson and Aldis Hodge in "Black Adam." © 2022 DC Films/Warner Bros. All Rights Reserved.
Casting someone as physically daunting as Dwaye "The Rock" Johnson in the role of Black Adam was a stroke of genius but the script gives him little to do but scowl and look menacing. Pierce Brosnan as Doctor Fate provides the best performance, looking debonaire and put together, even as he struggles to convince Adam that he can become the champion that his people need, that he can transform from seeking revenge to serving his people rather than himself.
Pierce Brosnan as Doctor Fate in "Black Adam." © 2022 DC Films/Warner Bros. All Rights Reserved.
Parents, be aware that this film is not for young ones. There's quite a body count while Black Adam tries to get his priorities straight and in the pre-historic preamble to the film a boy gets stabbed and thrown off a cliff. Not pretty. If you decide to let your older kids see the film, it provides a great opportunity to have a conversation about what it means to admire someone for their wrongdoing and what it is that can attract us to such characters or people. After all, none of us is totally void of wrongdoing in our lives.
We all have had experiences of anger, grief, betrayal stemming from painful events or happenings. What we do with those emotions is up to us. Just know that in the darkness there are always sparks of hope, people or thoughts we can hold onto to get us through the dark times. For us believers, the glimmers that keep us going are gifts from our loving God who always holds us in the palm of his hand, leading us from darkness into light.