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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Is ‘Black Adam’ here to save the DC cinematic universe?

Coming to theaters on Oct. 21, “Black Adam” is the newest addition to the recent bombardment of superhero movies.
Warner Bros.
Dwayne Johnson playing Black Adam in “Black Adam.” (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.)

DC fans unite: The superhero cinematic universe is about to get bigger. Except, this time, it isn’t a hero being introduced, but an antihero that pushes the boundaries of what being a hero really means. “Black Adam” is here and ready to prove to the world that the mostly unsuccessful DCEU (DC Extended Universe) is finally on its way up.

“Black Adam” is about, you guessed it, Black Adam. Originally a slave named Teth-Adam in ancient Kahndaq 5,000 years ago, Adam was gifted the “almighty powers of the gods,” but used these powers in a bout of bloody vengeance and was thus imprisoned. After 5,000 years of imprisonment, he is freed and starts fixing the world with his own definition of justice. His definition, however, differs from that of the Justice Society’s—a team of superheroes ready to stop him and imprison him once again.

The titular character is played by the beloved (but one-noted) Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, whose previous performances always include being in a jungle for some reason. If you don’t believe me, “Black Adam” director Jaume Collet-Serra also directed the 2021 movie “Jungle Cruise,” which stars The Rock himself. Coincidence? I think not. “Black Adam” is surprisingly Johnson’s first role in a superhero costume, but he said it’s been in the back of his mind for a long time.

“Black Adam actually came onto my radar when I was really young,” Johnson said in a Sept. 30 memo. “I gravitated towards Black Adam because he was one of the very few superheroes, supervillains, antiheroes—however you want to categorize him—who had brown skin and looked like me. Plus, he was always a badass.”

In a recent press conference, Johnson also talked a little about the attributes of Black Adam that he found similar to his own.

“Besides flying and being able to shoot electricity out of my hands, I’d say [we share] conviction and passion,” Johnson said. “It surely was an honor to play him and deliver him to the world.”

Johnson shares the “Black Adam” spotlight with a variety of famous actors—the most surprising being Noah Centineo of trashy Netflix fame, who plays Al Rothstein, a.k.a. Atom Smasher. He is joined by Pierce Brosnan, who had the honor of playing James Bond back in the day and, more importantly, starring in “Mamma Mia.” He plays Kent Nelson, a.k.a Doctor Fate. Other performers include Aldis Hodge as Hawkman and Quintessa Swindell as Cyclone, both members of the Justice Society.

Brosnan discussed how playing Doctor Fate as a character forced him to adjust his acting to truly personify the character.

“He’s one of the oldest characters in the [pantheon] of DC comics. He’s a sorcerer. His entry into the world came with the sacrifice of his father’s death. He can see the future and how people die,” Brosnan said. “With this kind of mythology, you really need to look into yourself and, as an actor, bring a subtext which is really personal.”

While the conflict between Adam and the Justice Society plays out, we are also introduced to the current state of Kahndaq—which is not as glorious as it used to be back in Adam’s day. Intergang—a villainous organization that is mining the region’s last available Eternium, a priceless resource, is to blame for this downfall. 

Many have doubts about whether the DCEU will come back from its past failures, but “Black Adam” might be the one to save the cinematic universe from its slump. With a star-studded cast and an interesting mythology, “Black Adam” is definitely something you should watch as soon as it hits the theaters.

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About the Contributor
Deniz Orbay
Deniz Orbay, Former Senior Staff Writer
Deniz Orbay (25) is a student in the College of Arts and Science double-majoring in Mathematics and Computer Science and minoring in Cinema and Media Arts. He writes for Life and News, is a big movie nerd and is better than average at every sport in which a ball is used. You can reach him at [email protected].
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