Warning: the following contains full plot spoilers for Black Adam.
Dwayne Johnson’s long-awaited superhero film, Black Adam, has finally struck theaters, and the DC Extended Universe has been rocked like never before. Like many other films in the DCEU, this one has premiered to a divisive critical reception, but it still proves the Rock’s claim that he was “born to play” the Black Adam. All in all, the movie has made the titular antihero a new powerhouse that will undoubtedly have long-lasting ramifications for the DCEU. Here’s an analysis of DC’s latest film and what its ending means for its cinematic universe.
Around the year 3,000 B.C, in the country of Kahndaq, a young slave boy revolts against the tyrannical King Anh-Kot, who seeks to forge the Crown of Sabbac out of “Eternium” crystals to gain 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 put on the crown and frees Kahndaq from his reign of terror.
In present-day Kahndaq, Adrianna Tomez and her team of freedom fighters search for the Crown of Sabbac to keep it out of the hands of the Intergang, the technologically advanced syndicate controlling their country. Though they locate and acquire the crown in Adam’s “tomb,” Adrianna gets cornered at gunpoint by the Intergang, revealed to be secretly led 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, and he decimates the Intergang legions with ease.
Seeking to suppress Adam’s destructive vigilantism, Amanda Waller (who once served as the head of the Suicide Squad) sends out the Justice Society of America to stop and bring him into captivity. This team of superheroes consists of Kent Nelson (Doctor Fate), Albert Rothstein (Atom Smasher), Maxine Hunkel (Cyclone), and their leader, Carter Hall (Hawkman).
While Adam takes in the state of modern-day Kahndaq, he takes on Intergang soldiers threatening Adrianna and her son, Amon, who becomes Adam’s friend. During this battle, the JSA flies in on their jet and stops Adam from killing two soldiers. Even with their combined powers, the JSA fails to contain Adam and his overwhelming might, but they 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 for fighting against the Intergang and scorn the JSA for opposing Adam. This moment makes for some intriguing social commentary, with even Adrianna criticizing the JSA for not helping her country overthrow its oppressors beforehand. However, Adrianna and the JSA discover that Adam is not the hero that 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, which led to Shazam and his fellow wizards actually imprisoning Adam. Not only that, Adam later reveals that he wasn’t even the boy that the wizards made champion. They actually chose Adam’s son, Hurut, who passed his powers onto 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 became consumed by rage and murdered the king in a quest for revenge, not justice.
Eventually, the heroes locate Ishmael and give him the crown in exchange for Amon. But now that he has it, Ishmael decides to kill Amon anyway. Adam succeeds in saving Amon and killing Ishmael, though the Adam nearly kills the young boy after losing control of his powers again. Choosing not to let himself hurt anyone else, Adam returns to his human form by saying “Shazam.” He then gives himself up to the JSA, and lets Waller put him in 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, the evil antithesis of Shazam. The JSA then faces Sabbac back in Kahndaq, with Doctor Fate sacrificing himself to hold him off and free Adam from his prison. After transforming back into his superhuman form, Adam flies back to Kahndaq and battles Sabbac, while Adrianna and Amon lead a revolt as the demon summons an army of the damned. This climactic battle ends with Hawkman helping Adam defeat and rip Sabbac in half, causing the villain’s fiendish army to disappear.
With peace restored to Kahndaq, the JSA take their leave, and Adam takes a seat on the throne, only to decide that being a king isn’t for him. He then destroys the throne and chooses to let the people of Kahndaq govern themselves. Nevertheless, Adam still decides to look over the country as its protector and takes on the name “Black Adam.” But wait, there’s more.
In the film’s mid-credits scene, Adam meets with Amanda Waller via hologram, with the latter demanding that he stay within Kahndaq’s borders or suffer the consequences, as she and the rest of the world now feel threatened by him. Though Adam says 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 his long-awaited return as the Man of Steel, which seems to be another step toward getting the DCEU back on track.
For a while, DC and Warner Bros.’s plans for their cinematic universe seemed all over the place, since Cavill had long left his role behind and the films had little to no connection to each other. Despite numerous demands from fans, Warner Bros. seemed keen on ignoring just about everything set up prior to Justice League, including Cavill’s Superman. But thanks to Dwayne Johnson and the new management brought in following Discovery’s merger with Warner Bros., audiences may finally see Black Adam battle Superman in the DCEU soon.
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