Editor’s Note: A Daily staffer is affiliated with Warner Bros., but they were not involved in the creation, production or publication of this piece.
I speak on behalf of all superhero movie fans when I say: We’re getting impatient. Recent storylines feel contrived, productions appear fatuous and characters lack their previous charm. It seems we’re on the verge of a breakup with the superhero craze. Perhaps we want different things — maybe it’s time we see other people.
But we haven’t given up yet. Enter “Black Adam,” the highly anticipated DC Extended Universe blockbuster that will debut Oct. 21. Starring Dwayne Johnson (“DC League of Super-Pets”) in the titular role, “Black Adam” is the first movie to tell the story of one of DC Comics’s most powerful antiheroes. Tapping into darker material has worked in DC’s favor before — “The Batman” (2022) was well-received by audiences and praised by critics for its psychological portrayal of Bruce Wayne in the form of a neo-noir thriller. Like “The Batman,” “Black Adam” walks the blurred line between good and evil without being anchored to the origin story of its eponym.
In a virtual college roundtable with The Michigan Daily on Oct. 6, Johnson, actors Pierce Brosnan (“Goldeneye”), Aldis Hodge (“Green Lantern: Beware My Power”), Noah Centineo (“To All the Boys” trilogy), Quintessa Swindell (“Master Gardener”), Sarah Shahi (“Sex/Life”), Mohammed Amer (“Mo Amer: Mohammed in Texas”) and producers Hiram Garcia (“DC League of Super-Pets”) and Beau Flynn (“Red Notice”) discussed their new film.
Brosnan said with sincerity, “Every day was a joy to go to work with my fellow actors here, and we really did become a family.” The word “family” was thrown around numerous times during the panel as each member of the cast expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to be part of such a harmonious team. The cast’s playful camaraderie was impossible to miss — the actors were unable to contain their effusive laughter as Hodge explained the story of his animated reaction to receiving the news that he had gotten the role of Hawkman. The stars of “Black Adam” have undeniable chemistry off-screen, a promising indicator of the dynamics we may observe on-screen. Flynn shared, “You kind of have to cross your fingers when casting roles … (but) the minute we saw them together, we knew (it) was a home run.”
Johnson’s remarkably successful Hollywood career has spanned years, a rare feat given that his background is not in acting. But “Black Adam” stands out among his past projects as his first foray into the superhero subgenre, in a role he said was “truly an honor” to play.
Johnson spoke on the driving force behind this story: “We all wanted to make a film that was different and unique in this world of the superhero genre that has been so wildly successful for so many years.” Johnson added that the idea to finally bring Black Adam and the Justice Society to life was intended to usher in “a new era of The DC Universe.” Rather than creating a place for “Black Adam” within the existing hierarchy, the goal of this project was to “(design) a movie that was disruptive” to the patterns of its own genre. Garcia echoed this idea as he spoke on “(delivering something) special for the fans” while creating a film that felt “fresh and (allowed) us to elevate the genre that we’re playing in.” Whether “Black Adam” will make good on its promises of nonconformity remains to be seen.
Though we have another week to wait for the movie to hit the big screen, one thing is certain: Those who made “Black Adam” are proud of it. In a genre that relies heavily on tradition, this film aims to preserve the thrill of a classic superhero story while reimagining the DC vision. With that in mind, I am ready to give “Black Adam” the chance it deserves.
Daily Arts Contributor Maya Ruder can be reached at email@example.com.