Black Adam carves a place (and throne) in the increasingly crowded comic book superhero movie space this week.
Starring blockbuster Dwayne Johnson, Black Adam, which opens Friday, is the origin story of the eponymous antihero and will also introduce a new team of superheroes to the DC Extended Universe.
Johnson’s debut as Black Adam has been a long time coming. The wrestler-turned-actor was originally set to play the character in 2014, and was expected to debut with his rival Shazam – the superhero formerly known as Captain Marvel (no, not the Captain Marvel) – in the same movie. Those plans were eventually scrapped and the Black Adam-less Shazam! was released in 2019.
In Black Adam, Johnson’s Teth-Adam instead shares screen time with the Justice Society, which stars heroic characters from Aldis Hodge, Pierce Brosnan, Noah Centineo and Quintessa Swindell. The film’s cast also includes Sarah Shahi, Bodhi Sabongui, Marwan Kenzari and Mohammed Amer.
Here’s everything you need to know about Black Adam and the Justice Society before watching Black Adam.
Who is Black Adam?
Black Adam – also known as Teth-Adam – debuted in the 1945 launch issue of Marvel Family about Captain Marvel (who has since been renamed Shazam for obvious reasons) and his family.
As might be expected for a comic book character with nearly 80 years of history, Black Adam’s origin story and background has been revisited over the years. But he’s universally known as a hero-turned-villain-turned-anti-hero (at times), with ties to ancient (and more recently fictional) North Africa.
Black Adam possesses superpowers bestowed on him by magic, including flight, superhuman strength, invulnerability, increased speed, and the ability to shoot lightning. His powers are triggered by saying the magic word “Shazam,” much like the superhero Shazam, his modern-day successor and rival.
Where does Black Adam fit into the world of DC superhero movies?
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, Black Adam is a spin-off film set in the so-called DC Extended Universe. The long-running project is most closely associated with Shazam! (2019) because of the character’s comic book history, although there are no explicit ties to any of the other DCEU films. (DCEU believers will see at least one familiar face, however.)
The DCEU is a shared superhero universe launched with Man of Steel (2013) and featuring characters such as Superman (played by Henry Cavill), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), and Harley Quinn ( Margot Robbie) contains. . Black Adam will be the first DCEU film since 2021’s The Suicide Squad.
Besides Black Adam, the upcoming DCEU movies include a couple of sequels (“Shazam! Fury of the Gods” and “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom”) as well as a few other solo debuts (“The Flash” and “Blue Beetle”) , all planned for 2023.
Films based on DC Comics characters set outside of the DCEU continuity include Todd Phillips’ “Joker” (and its upcoming sequel) and Matt Reeves’ “The Batman” (and its future spin-offs and sequels).
In the comics, Black Adam is primarily associated with Shazam as his nemesis, so merging those two on screen would be a natural progression. He has fought both with and against various superhero teams over the years, including the Justice Society and the Justice League, so there may be future confrontations or collaborations with either team or their members. (And yes, that also means Black Adam has fought with and against Superman – another hero with similar powers to himself.)
Wait, the Justice Society and the Justice League are different?
Yes, the Justice Society of America and the Justice League of America are two different superhero teams.
The Justice Society is the oldest of DC’s superhero teams, debuting in 1940. The cast has changed over the years, but original members included Doctor Fate, Hawkman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Atom, Hourman, Sandman, and The spectre. Well-known names from the DCEU such as Superman, Wonder Woman, Shazam and Black Canary were also part of the Justice Society.
The better-known Justice League, a sort of revamped version of the Justice Society, made its comic book debut in 1960. The original team consisted of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman and Martian Manhunter – characters you should know who saw Justice League (2017). The team’s various incarnations also included Cyborg, Blue Beetle, Hawkman, Mera, Supergirl, and Black Canary. It was eventually revealed in the comics that the Justice Society and Justice League operate on different Earths within the multiverse.
What is the cast of the Justice Society in Black Adam?
The Justice Society featured in Black Adam includes Hawkman, Doctor Fate, Atom Smasher and Cyclone – the aliases of Carter Hall, Kent Nelson, Al Rothstein and Maxine Hunkel respectively.
Carter Hall/Hawkman and Kent Nelson/Doctor Fate are both characters who debuted in 1940 and are among the founding members of the Justice Society. Though aspects of his backstory have changed over the years, Hall is generally considered to be the most recent reincarnation of a prince of ancient Egypt, having reincarnated countless times and retaining all the memories of each of his lifetimes. A special metal in his superhero suit grants him enhanced strength, vision, healing, and the ability to fly.
Nelson is a skilled wizard who has access to magical artifacts – like the Helm of Destiny – that grant him additional powers. In addition to his brilliant mind, his powers include flight, controlling elements, seeing the future, and conjuring illusions.
Al Rothstein/Atom Smasher and Maxine Hunkel/Cyclone are both recent comic book characters who have ties to other heroes belonging to the Justice Society. Originally introduced in the 1980s, Rothstein has the ability to manipulate his mass – meaning he can grow taller which also increases his super strength. In the comics, he is the godchild of Atom, one of the founding members of the Justice Society.
Hunkel made her formal comic book debut in 2007 and is the granddaughter of the original Red Tornado, who was portrayed as an honorary member of the Justice Society. Hunkel was kidnapped as a child by a mad scientist who exposed her to nanotechnology experiments. She has the ability to control the wind.
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/movies/story/2022-10-20/black-adam-justice-society-dc-comics-explained ‘Black Adam’ movie: DC hero and Justice Society, explained