Look that’s a joke I wanted to open with.
The friend I took to the screening had me repeating that line every chance we got and I appreciated it. Yet at the same time, after watching the feature, it became entirely applicable to it as a whole. Maybe the power has shifted at DC? But that’s not within the confines of its movie universe. It may be behind the scenes in the studios, as a once directionless universe may be starting to find its path forward.
Dwayne Johnson has said that Black Adam was “15 hard years of fighting to make this passion project a reality”. Whether or not that’s true, it’s damned good tale to sell the film. And when it’s succeeding the mostly unsuccessful DC Extended Universe (with relative financial comparison to the MCU), it becomes even more of a truth. The most interesting thing about DC, is their comics are f*cking wild. Like just bonkers. Absolutely campy numbers from time to time. But they tried to steep their cinematic world in a grim reality, which can most likely be attributed to the success of the Nolanverse.
When Snyder took over, bringing more visual flair but as much dread, this branched out into following features as the aesthetic became as grim as their stories. Then Aquaman happened. Aquaman was just a FUN film. It didn’t care that everything about it is weird, like Ocean Master’s silly helmet or Arthur’s orange suit. It embraced them. And SHAZAM! followed suit. Fun! With a lot of weird elements! BUT FUN. And this talks to the power shifting both on-screen and behind it. FUN. Big dumb fun.
And Black Adam serves this in spades.
Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not a great film. But it is a VERY GOOD film. Especially under the lens of being a DC feature. A quick throwback throws back to the present even more swiftly to start us on the adventure of shifting power in the DC Universe. And Teth-Adam (Johnson) gets a helluva introduction. With some of the best superhero action I’ve seen in a hot minute, it’s one of many that this film really nails incredibly well. I haven’t been a fan of slo-mo in recent time. But even the overuse of it in this film had me in a chokehold, as it was skillfully used to recreate famous moments from 300 and those Quicksilver parts from the X-Men films.
Which on that note speaks to the WHY of this film. Why is it good? Yes, it’s because it’s big, dumb and fun. But it’s because it feels like a film which goes “why are Marvel films good?” and then takes all of the big cues from them. Saving Sokovia? Saving Khandaq. Civilian uprisings? Civilian uprising. Ensemble battles? Ensemble battles. Witty jokes? Witty jokes. It’s the result of success, and should hopefully translate as such at the Box Office. Oh, and a super post-credits scene? A SUPER post-credits scene (so hang around).
Black Adam is good.
While that’s antithetical to their implied morality, they remind us many-a-time that they’re “not a hero”. And this not-a-hero deserves to be seen on the biggest screen you can get to. It is big. It is dumb. And ultimately it is FUN. If DC keep this up, they might just start playing in the big leagues. And if they do, I can’t wait to see what that looks like.
"Tell them the Man in Black sent you"
Maybe it was the lack of expectation that did it, but Black Adam is flat-out fun. Containing some of the best action I've seen in a superhero film in a while, the vehicle for Johnson to enter the DCEU and shift its power ultimately pays off. Fun references to previous features, great crossovers and the ever so subtle taste of the animated Justice League lingering over it, DC may just be getting the ball rolling.
Now hopefully December's SHAZAM! Fury Of The Gods doesn't flatten it. FOUR STARS!