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With Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam movie to be released this week has begun to pour in its first critics’ reviews. After being cast as Black Adam over a decade ago, Johnson’s highly anticipated solo film is finally set to premiere worldwide as the DCEU will introduce the iconic DC character. Johnson was originally supposed to appear as Black Adam in Shazam!. Still, after seeing the early scripts, the actor convinced Warner Bros. to let the two characters star in their own respective movies before clashing on the big screen.
For several years, Black Adam is one of Warner Bros.’s most hyped superhero projects, as Johnson has insisted it will change forever “the hierarchy of power” in the DCEU. While the studio has been dealing with behind-the-scenes changes for their DC properties, Black Adam is seen as a new chapter for the franchise, in addition to telling the grim origin story of Teth-Adam. The DCEU episode will also see the big screen introduction of the Justice Society of America, the Golden Age team that originally predates the Justice League in the comics.
As Black Adam When it hits theaters in multiple countries in a few days, several members of the press have been able to pre-screen Johnson’s film, giving viewers an early impression. Check out several spoiler-free examples of what reviewers are saying about Johnson’s Black Adam movie.
Rachel LeBonte, screen frenzy
Black Adam isn’t necessarily the smartest superhero movie, nor is it the most entertaining. However, it’s still a fairly engaging introduction to one of the more intriguing characters to come out of the DCEU. Johnson has been working for years to get Black Adam made, and his passion for the project has been apparent from almost the start. The action-packed nature can be exhausting, with certain characters begging for more attention, but as an origin story for Teth-Adam, it manages to improve on what viewers could have expected from Johnson’s live-action superhero debut.
Ross Bonaime, Collider
Black Adam isn’t a full course correction for the DCEU, but it’s an encouraging new installment in this larger universe. Collet-Serra manages to present this darkness and antihero in an effective way, while also fleshing out one of the most promising additions to DC’s ever-expanding character. Johnson is also a welcome part of this world, and while the DCEU has tried to bring moral ambiguity to characters like Superman in ways that weren’t entirely successful, Black Adam allows DC to play in this darkness with an anti-hero who doesn’t betray their world or characters. Black Adam may not be the hero the DCEU needs, but it’s a welcome shift for this larger world and an invigorating look at the future potential in this universe.
Pieter Debrugge, Variety
The movie is essentially “Shane” on steroids, set in the Middle East rather than the Old West, but still seen through the eyes of a young boy – Adrianna’s comic book-obsessed son Amon (Bodhi Sabongui), in this case – who idolizes a figure of questionable morality. As with “Shane”, a kid in the middle of the story brings the whole project to a high school level intellect. And yet, with the exception of the recent Batman movies, that’s how most DC movies feel.
John Defore, The Hollywood Reporter
Johnson creates a magnetic antihero, volatile and antisocial. He flies not so much as through the air; he beats opponents like the bundles of weightless CG pixels that they are. And this passion project serves the character well, preparing him for adventures that you hope are less predictable than this one. And perhaps, as Teth Adam slowly builds a coherent moral worldview over the course of many movies, America may grow out of its hideous propensity to pick celebrities with no experience in making governments work. Unfortunately, that takes more than wizards and magic stones.
Gregg Katzman, Comic Book Resources
For viewers who want popcorn entertainment, Black Adam is delivering and putting on something that could be very exciting for the future of the DCEU. It’s unclear how the DCEU will respond to this, even with The Flash, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, and Shazam! Fury of the Gods scheduled for 2023. For now, Black Adam has done enough to ensure viewers will be excited to see what the character will do next in the DCEU. Fingers crossed that they’re heading for something loosely inspired by World War III or Kingdom Come…
Todd McCarthy, Deadline Hollywood
What matters most here is safely planting the flag for subsequent installments of Black Adam adventures, and it seems to be doing so. The visual spectacle only keeps coming at you for two hours, and the effects are all so stunning that you might start to take it for granted. Pretty much every shot contains something epic or at least unusual, and director Jaume Collet-Serra, who directed Johnson’s 2020 hit Jungle Cruise, does a great job of presenting the star in the most favorable dramatic light. The Rock is always the center of attention of any scene he finds himself in, and there’s every reason to believe he’ll move on soon to make a series of Black Adam movies and make up for lost time. .
David Ehrlich, IndieWire
The problem isn’t that Johnson can’t act — he sure can! – the problem is, he doesn’t want to. He still wants the simple idolatry that a child might have for his favorite athlete. He wants to be bigger than life. But even the biggest movie stars have to be a little smaller than that to give people something to look at, not just to look up to. “Violence is always necessary,” Teth-Adam emphasizes, and it’s refreshing that “Black Adam” doesn’t stop him. But risk is also always necessary; for heroes, yes, but even more so for anyone who is supposedly willing to be a little more complicated than that.
Alonso Duralde, the cover
The ensemble is doing what it can with the material, but no one will incorporate this into their eventual life performance roles. There’s a shocking sense of four-quadrant casting at work here – Brosnan for the parents! Centineo for the teens! Skateboard kid for the tween! — that reads too clearly like a marketing strategy and not a cast of characters who would actually interact in these circumstances. Most disappointing of all, “Black Adam” is one of the most visually confusing of the big-studio superhero sagas, between CG that is offensively unappealing and fast editing that sucks the excitement out of every fight scene. (And there are so, so many fight scenes.) The premise of a superhero whose idea of conflict is to throw his opponents as far as possible offers some subversive chuckles the first two or three times, but it gets old quickly, as does virtually anything “Black Adam” throws at his audience. Sometimes, maybe no plan is better than a bad plan.
What do Black Adam’s early reviews mean for the film?
One of the common threads in the previous reviews is how: Black Adam isn’t necessarily a huge course correction for the DCEU, which has gone through its challenges since Joss Whedon’s Justice League cut in 2017. It might be unreasonable to expect a character that many mainstream audiences don’t know about to somehow steer the ship in the right direction for Warner Bros. DCEU properties. Johnson’s film ultimately centers on his antihero who gains a base that can lead to bigger adventures, including Black Adam fighting Superman.
While critics may be mixed about Black Adam so far, time will tell how the film connects with audiences and other reviewers who didn’t get to see the film beforehand. Any aspects that critics didn’t respond to well may be something that audiences react to differently when they see Black Adam. Except for Black Adam’s overall reception, it will also come down to the box office result that will decide whether or not Johnson’s franchise will go ahead, including whatever spin-off projects he has in mind. However, it seems that Warner Bros. already has a good working relationship with Johnson, especially as he convinced the new heads of WB Pictures for the big surprise cameo, which could indicate that his time in the DCEU is far from over after Black Adam.
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