The film starts with a little bit of an origin story that can give viewers some context. Black Adam or in this film is mostly called by his real name—Tate Adam. 5,000 years ago in Kandahar, Afghanistan, he was given a similar power like Billy Batson [Shazam! (2019)] does in the present time. Even the ‘password’ to turn it on and off is the same, to say the word ‘Shazam’.
The premise is that Tate Adam freed the people of Kandahar in the past from a tyrant king and he will return to free them another time in the future when they are oppressed like the current situation where the city is in control of an organised crime syndicate – Intergang. At least it was what was told both by tongue or written throughout generations in Kandahar. When the film progresses, it will tell a twist here and there for us to enjoy.
Characters and Stories
Black Adam has histories of being a villain of Shazam. I may not be too familiar with this character, yet from what I can recall either in the comics or adaptation on tv/film animation, it is true that he is more on the villainous side rather than the good side. But this version of Black Adam is pointing more towards a good guy type. To be the protector, a champion of Kandahar people. Characters like Addriana Tomaz (female lead) and her son push Tate time to time again to do something about the condition of their city. It is like a recent version of the comics rather than the classic Black Adam.
Do something good at the same time in his own way. Here comes our anti-hero. It is what Addriana wants too. For someone to do what has to be done. The Justice Society claims what they do is good—to protect the world, but they are opposed by Tate and Addriana as the Justice Society doesn’t get the suffering of the Kandahar people. Only care about their version of justice they draw by themselves
What I love about DC, they make no-nonsense trailers for their films. As far as I can tell, there is no alteration of what the film might look like. It wouldn’t show certain characters or some scenes that are just not found on the final product like what Marvel does. Well there are 2-3 scenes that don’t make it to the final cut. Yet it doesn’t disturb the storylines or break audiences’ expectations. Also what stopped them to add it to their streaming service version or director’s cut one.
Should We Call It Justice Society: Black Adam?
It almost feels like a Justice Society film rather than a Black Adam one. Add like 10% screen time and decrease the same amount for Black Adam, start with a Justice Society origin rather than Black Adam, then I will believe it when someone tells me that it is titled Justice Society.
As a typical comic superhero adapted film, we can expect many action scenes. And it would be a great action film if they don’t make 9/10 action sequences to be slow motion ones. Sure they add a dramatic atmosphere but definitely you wouldn’t just slow-mo almost everything.
I can’t evoke James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad (2021) to be so heavy on slow-mo. Also this film is not directed nor produced by Zack Snyder. So I can only come to a conclusion that that is what exec. producers and/or people higher up in the Warner Bros. responsible to DC Extended Universe (DCEU) to make miserable slow-mo heavy action sequences.
Set in Afghanistan, South Asia, we might think that it might be one of the hottest lands on Earth. But actually not exactly true. Specifically in Kandahar, it is not a 50°C type of place. Even in the summer. There are places in Europe and the US that are more hot and dry with crazy sunlight.
What I want to point out is that the colour grading is a “classic too warm” one to portray Middle-East, Africa, South-America alike. I guess even for today, some studios aren’t just not that mature to tell what it feels like region to region.
Sure it is set in Afghanistan and people there might know English too. But most of the time no matter who speaks or when or where, they will speak English and only English. For the Black Adam to speak English so easily even after ‘revived’ after 5,000 years is part of his set of gods/goddesses powers. But for other characters that are not part of the Justice Society that operates from the US, Intergang that might consist of people around the world, the female leading character who is a lecturer/professor in a university and her family and associates, there is no need to speak English all the time.
The only language that is spoken other than English is Khandaq’i and it is only spoken by Tate. Also I can’t really confirm whether it is a real language or a fictional one in the world of DC Comics.
Why don’t they speak Dari or Pashto, which are Afghanistan’s official language? All I can think of is just as typical films that are produced by US studios, it just makes sense for them to make it in English. No matter the setting where. Or just maybe in the world that DC builds, people in Kandahar speak English daily. So yeah there is a chance and that’s that.
Let’s Wrap This Up
To conclude, it is a well-made DC Comics character adapted film. But there are some things that are worth pointing out, like the inclusion of Justice Society that might be too influential for a film that is titled Black Adam; on many occasions we get slow-mo for its action sequences; and the language that is spoken does not well represent the setting.
This time we get to see the taste of an anti-hero from DC on the big screen. It is a long-awaited adaptation that we might want five years sooner. Finishing the production now, releasing it now and enjoying it now is not bad either.
*a pinch of spoiler ahead*
I hope to see more from DC that is now in a state of starting to stabilise after its parent company—Warner Bros. finishing up a merger. Let Batwoman be the only casualty but we can enjoy Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam interacting with the future Justice Society and the likes of Zachary Levy’s Shazam or Henry Cavill’s Superman in DCEU.