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Black Adam: DC’s Revenge-Fueled Anti-Hero Explained

5 Minute Read
May 9 2024

Black Adam made a splash on the big screen. Learn about the film’s cast, the mixed reviews, and the rage-filled character at its center.

With Dwayne Johnson back in the news, let’s rehash one of his more controversial movies. Fans had been waiting decades for a big-screen story focused on the iconic DC character Black Adam. The movie they got has a stellar cast led by Johnson and a big budget. What could go wrong? Unfortunately, it got a mixed bag of reviews. Here are some details about the movie before you dive in and where you can watch it.

via Warner Bros.

Is Black Adam a Villain?

Teth-Adam, aka Mighty Human, aka Black Adam, has been both an anti-hero and a brutal villain over the years. Otto Binder and C. C. Beck created him as a super-powered villain. He first appeared in Fawcett Comics’ (bought by DC in the 1970s) The Marvel Family in 1945.

black adam Fawcett Comics
via Fawcett Comics circa 1940s

He’s an ancient Egyptian predecessor of Captain Marvel and nemesis of the Shazam Family. Teth-Adam was the first champion chosen by the wizard Shazam due to his moral purity, but he was soon corrupted by his immense power. He aimed to rule the world. Bummer. He kicks off his plan by overthrowing the Pharaoh and taking the Egyptian throne. His plans are thwarted by the wizard, who revokes his powers and banishes him to a faraway star.

He fought his way back to Earth and to modern times to take out Captain Marvel, his superhero replacement. He remained on this path of revenge, brutality, and dominance for several decades before deciding to reform.

black adam dc
via DC

In more recent comics and the live-action movie, he’s an antihero out to clear his name and reputation after years of corruption and bad behavior. Actor Dwayne Johnson, who portrayed Black Adam on screen, describes the character:

“I think in the world of superheroes, which the world loves, there’s a code of ethics and conduct that the superheroes abide by. But when it comes to Black Adam, who rose out of oppression and slavery and blessed with these powers that rival Superman’s powers — but the difference is if you hurt him or certainly hurt his people or his family, the Black Adam way is that you die. There is no gray; it is black or white. What we have been delivering in the movie, I think people are really going to enjoy.”

– via People
Black Adam the rock movie
via Warner Bros.

Is Black Adam Shazam?

If you’re not a regular DC comic reader, the character that actually bears the name “Shazam” can get confusing. They are not the same character. Shazam is the name of the wizard from whom Black Adam and Captain Marvel get their powers. Captain Marvel is given powers by the wizard Shazam after Black Adam. Captain Marvel is often accidentally called Shazam thanks to his shared name with a certain other major comic book company. It doesn’t help that every time he transforms, he yells the wizard’s name. But his original name was Captain Marvel. #billybatsondiditfirst

They both wear lightning bolts on their chests, use the same word to call their powers, fly, and can both control lightning. Their powers were gifted to them by the Council of Eternity. But they get those powers from different pantheons of gods. Black Adam from Shu, Heru, Amon, Zehuti, Aton, and Mehen; and Captain Marvel from Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury.

The biggest difference is their alignment. Captain Marvel has always been on the side of good, Black Adam has spent most of his existence as a villain, and later as an antihero. Either way, the two regularly fight in the comics and have for decades (and sometimes Superman joins in).

DC Comics Presents #49 (1982)

READ MORE: Black Adam vs. Superman

The Live-Action Movie

The live-action movie starring Dwayne Johnson in the title role was announced in 2019. Black Adam‘s release date was October 21st, 2022, and it got a home release on November 22, 2022. You can watch it and see for yourself—is it good, bad, or misunderstood? You be the judge. Just maybe don’t inflict your wrath on everyone the way the character has in certain stories…

How Long is Black Adam?

It has a run time of two hours and five minutes with credits. It has one mid-credit scene and no post-credit scenes.

Where Can I Watch Black Adam?

As of May 2024, Black Adam is available to rent or buy on most digital platforms, as well as on Blu-ray and 4k UHD. It is also available to stream on Max.

How are the Reviews for Black Adam?

Black Adam has very divided reviews. The movie is considered to be a critical and financial flop that lost millions, but general audiences give it high marks. It was another in a string of divisive movies DC has put out in recent years.


Cheaper, trashier, perhaps even dumber films have been saved by the presence of Dwayne Johnson. So why is DC’s latest so doggedly immune to the redemptive power of the Rock?

The Observer

This was amazing! Love the CGI, and action scenes! Overall, had a great plot and just an all around great movie!

Audience Review
black adam reviews
via Rotten Tomatoes, retrieved Sept. 2023

Who is in Black Adam the Movie?

The Black Adam cast is led by Dwayne Johnson as Teth Adam/Black Adam. It brings back Djimon Hounsou as the Wizard Shazam and includes Sarah Shahi, who stars as Professor Adrianna Tomaz.

Most of the new faces in Black Adam’s cast are part of the Justice Society of America, a DC supergroup that brings classic heroes together, similar to the Justice League. The members chosen for the movie have decades-old ties to Black Adam in the comics. They are:

  • Noah Centineo is Albert Rothstein/Atom Smasher, who has the ability to grow to tremendous size.
  • Aldis Hodge is Carter Hall/Hawkman, who flies thanks to wings made of a special metal.
  • Quintessa Swindell is Maxine Hunkel/Cyclone, who can manipulate wind.
  • Pierce Brosnan is Kent Nelson/Doctor Fate, who is telepathic and has a host of other psionic powers.
black adam cast posters

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Author: Mars Garrett
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