The Dark Herald Recommends Black AdamThe Dark Herald
I trudged rather than walked into the theater to see this one. I had, with childlike innocence taken the critics at their word. Intellectually I know I can trust an angry cobra more than the opinion of the 21st-century film critic. Thus, my determination to approach this film with an open mind but I could hardly ignore the track record of every Marvel movie since 2017, to say nothing of every DC film since The Dark Knight Rises.
My low expectations weren’t unreasonable.
So, I was honestly shocked when, after 45 minutes, I realized I could just sit back and enjoy the movie instead of waiting for it to crash and burn. The suck wasn’t going to arrive.
For the first time since 2018, a superhero movie was indulging its core audience in unbridled masculinity.
This is going to be a spoiler-free review but I can’t spoil what the trailers gave away. The setting of this movie is the mythical country of Khandaq. In this universe, it was the first country to develop a major civilization. Everything was super happy and ultra cool but then a tyrant came along. As they do. And enslaved everyone in the country, (Archeologists among the Darklings, just roll with it, I don’t have all night).
Khandaq has the world’s largest deposit of Eternium, (it started life as Shazam kryptonite but these days it does whatever the plot needs it to). It’s kind of like Vibranium but it’s magic related.
Anyway, Evil King sets the whole population to digging it up to make a Crown of Might out of it. But then a boy motivated by nothing more than his own innate heroic virtues of prudence, temperance, justice, and courage spontaneously leads his people in a very short-lived rebellion against the Evil King. The rebellion is put down and kid is condemned, the executioner raises his khopesh sword to behead the child, the kid shouts out one last cry of defiance as the khopesh falls.
In the real world that is usually the end of the story but since this is the DC universe I knew as a kid, the Wizards snatched him away because they had found a boy who had guarded his perfect heart and was proven worthy. He was given the stamina of Shu? The speed of Heru…? Okay, no Greek gods available yet so that makes some sense. Admittedly Khandaq looks a lot more Sumerian than Egyptian. Screw it! Bottomline, the kid is the first Shazam.
So far as the people of Khandaq are concerned the kid was the one who beat the evil king, they call him Teth Adam. Except as the trailers already told you,
Black Adam isn’t that kid.
What he also isn’t is an anti-hero. Which I’ve heard illiterates calling him all weekend.
Look an anti-hero is defined by doing good things for bad or selfish reasons. He kills the tyrant because he was paid to do it
No, what Black Adam is, is a Barbarian Hero.
“The mighty barbarian. The avowed enemy of civilization when its people most need it to have an enemy. A man of strength, savagery, and endurance. Never the sharpest knife in the drawer but all the stronger for it because he cannot be corrupted by subtle arguments and petty temptations. Able to endure relentless torture without complaint, yet his vulnerabilities are almost those of a child. He cannot control his appetites and betrayal will wound him to his heart. Although, betraying him is a terrible idea for he will hound his betrayer to the ends of the Earth, not resting until his sword tastes blood.”
This Black Adam meets the requirements of that heroic archetype perfectly. It also makes him fairly problematic for the superbeing police forces in that world because he is given to handling problems like a bronze age hero, which means his solutions come with a body count attached.
Dwayne Johnson delivered. He was everything this film needed him to be. He brought the brooding menace that covered a deep grief that this iteration of Black Adam required.
It is easily and without question the best superhero movie of 2022. For my money, it’s the best since Infinity War.
So why did the access media hate it? The popular explanation is that it is to punish David Zaslav for canceling various Woke projects at Warner Brothers. To say nothing of firing some of the Lords of Wokedom like Ann Sarnoff and Toby Emmerich. And there is truth to that.
But I strongly suspect that the real driving force behind this shower of shit was that this film was a not-very-gentle slap in the face for globalism.
Oh, sure, the first lines you hear bemoan the horrors of “colonizing’ but whether unintentionally or deliberately the real message of Black Adam was Nationalism. The people of Khandaq wanted their country to be THEIR country. The globalist community couldn’t stand the idea and could not have been better represented than by this version of Intergang.
Yes, they were supposed to be “colonizers” but they came across as enforcers of Globalism. The insistence on diverse casting and inclusivity made the bad guys look cosmopolitan and the good guys like a homogeneous population that just wanted their country back.
Consequently, when the Justice Society intervenes to arrest Black Adam for killing a shitload of Intergang enforcers, they come across as well-meaning but disastrous agents of anti-nationalism. The Justice Society did nothing when Khandaq was taken over by Intergang. And the only reason they were showing up now was to literally take away, the only weapon Khandaq had in the form of Black Adam.
The female lead was probably an irritating as-hell Stronk Whamen, but in the theatrical version, she’s a mother who wants her son to live in a free country. There is a maternal bent to her that you would never find in a feminist heroine.
This was originally a Black Adam versus Superman film. When DC Films went superwoke both Henry Cavil and Superman were out on their ear and Black Adam got a major rework. Hawkman isn’t a terrible hero and I will grant that race swapped or no, Aldis Hodge delivered a good performance, he has a lot of charisma and is ready for the big time. Pierce Brosnan was the perfect choice for the aging Doctor Fate. The screen time of the minor heroes was cut enough that I didn’t mind them too much. Why the hell was Henry Winkler the retired Atom Smasher? Nevermind. The problem with the JSA is that they were too underpowered to take on Black Adam, the simple truth is that the antagonist needed to be Superman.
Speaking of whom. At least they FINALLY got his theme music right when he showed up in the end credits.
While not perfect I had a great time in the theater, and it’s been a long time since that has happened. I would willingly see Black Adam in the theater a second time.
The Dark Herald Recommends with Enthusiasm
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