Black Adam 2022 Movie Review
Black Adam is a 2022 American superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name. Produced by New Line Cinema, DC Films, Seven Bucks Productions, and FlynnPictureCo., it is a spin-off from Shazam! (2019) and the 11th film in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra and written by Adam Sztykiel, Rory Haines, and Sohrab Noshirvani, the film stars Dwayne Johnson as the titular character alongside Aldis Hodge, Noah Centineo, Sarah Shahi, Marwan Kenzari, Quintessa Swindell, Bodhi Sabongui, and Pierce Brosnan.
Johnson was attached to Shazam! early in development and confirmed to portray the villain Black Adam in September 2014, but the producers later decided to give the character his own film. Sztykiel was hired in October 2017. Collet-Serra joined in June 2019 for a planned release date of December 2021, but this timeline was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional casting took place over the next year, including for members of the Justice Society of America (JSA), and the script was rewritten by Haines and Noshirvani. Filming took place from April to August 2021 at Trilith Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, and also in Los Angeles.
Black Adam had its world premiere in Mexico City on October 3, 2022, and is scheduled to be released in the United States on October 21, 2022 by Warner Bros. Pictures. The film is releasing in several countries on October 20, a day earlier than its domestic release.
After nearly five thousand years of imprisonment, Black Adam, an antihero from the ancient city of Kahndaq, is unleashed into modern times. His brute tactics and way of justice attract the attention of the Justice Society of America, who tries to stop his rampage, teach him how to be a hero more than a villain, and must team up to stop a force more powerful than Adam himself.
Black Adam is coming to theaters to change the balance of power in the DC Extended Universe. Still, fans watching Dwayne Johnson’s superhero debut might be surprised by how violent the movie really is. During an interview with producers Beau Flynn and Hiram Garcia, Collider’s own Steven Weintraub discussed the unprecedented killstreak set by Black Adam, which almost led to the film being rated R by the MPAA.
Black Adam tells the origin story of the titular antihero, one of the most powerful metahumans of the DC universe. The issue is that Black Adam uses all of his might to impose his twisted vision of justice, by which any criminal must be summarily executed. So it’s no wonder Black Adam is constantly fighting superheroes, with the Justice Society of America trying to stop him in this first film adaptation of the character. But how much death could we expect from a PG-13 superhero movie? And with Johnson being so used to playing good guys, would his Teth-Adam be comfortable with all the slaughter? The answer is a resounding yes. Black Adam doesn’t hold back on the violence, which led to the movie being rated R for a good chunk of its production time. As Garcia explained:
“We really wanted to make sure that we honored the character of Black Adam. One of the things he’s known for is his aggression and violence, and to do a Black Adam movie that didn’t have that just wouldn’t have been authentic. So we always went into this knowing that we were going to push it as far as we did. We knew it was going to be a collaborative process with the MPAA to finally get it to where we were able, to get that rating, but we were able to pull it off. But it was really important for us to do that. And that’s something Dwayne was very committed to as well.”
While the producers’ commitment to the source material is commendable, it almost cost Black Adam the PG-13 rating. As Flynn tells us, it took “four rounds [with the MPAA], and [the movie] just got the PG-13, I think, maybe four or five weeks ago.” That’s the very definition of a close call. But the producers and Johnson didn’t want to compromise what makes the antihero so interesting. As Flynn says, “It was an obligation that we had to the fans.”
But what did get lost while Flynn, Garcia, and Johnson tried to negotiate with the MPAA? According to the producers, Black Adam had almost twice the number of scenes where Johnson kills an enemy with extreme violence. Flynn revealed:
“We did have to make a lot of edits, actually. There are some personal moments that we really love, but we had to let them go. But we never compromised, we never had to cut a scene. We had some really cool moments, and if you notice, there are some great moments when Black Adam is in the fly bike chase sequence and drops one of the intergang soldiers. Then there’s this great moment where the truck bounces over the body. But those are moments that you need and remember in these movies, you know what I mean? You can’t play it safe, and you have to go for it. And I think we have four or five of those. At one point we had about ten, and we were able to find some compromise with the MPAA on that.”
We’ve missed the R-rated version of Black Adam in theaters, but maybe there’s still hope for a home release of the unedited version of the movie. Flynn confirms, “there are going to be some features for when we release on home video and streaming. There’ll be some cool elements for that too, but that’s something we’re talking about.” However, the most important right now is that Black Adam becomes a box-office success, as this would allow Flynn and Garcia to push for more ambitious sequels. As Flynn explained, “We have so many ideas of how we can take to the next level and hope it [Black Adam] will be embraced in the way we’d like. Then it gives us such a great playing field to really push to a new level in future installments if we’re so lucky.”
Black Adam is set to be released in theaters on October 21. Look for more from our exclusive interview with Flynn and Garcia soon, and look for our exclusive interview with Dwayne Johnson on Friday.