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Film / Black Adam (2022)

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"There's no one on this planet that can stop me."
"Five thousand years ago, Kahndaq was a melting pot of cultures, wealth, power and magic. But most of us had nothing, except for the chains around our necks. Kahndaq needed a hero. Instead they got me. I did what needed to be done, and they imprisoned me for it. Now, five thousand years later, I am free. And I give you my word: no one will ever stop me again."
Teth-Adam / Black Adam

Black Adam is a 2022 superhero film directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (The Commuter, Jungle Cruise), from a screenplay by Adam Sztykiel, Rory Haines, and Sohrab Noshirvani. It is the eleventh film and twelfth overall installment of the DC Extended Universe, based on the DC Comics character of the same name — along with the Justice Society of America franchise — as well as a spin-off of 2019's SHAZAM!.

Long before Billy Batson received the powers of Shazam, there was another before him — Teth-Adam (Dwayne Johnson), a man from Kahndaq who has been imprisoned for 5000 years for misuse of his new gifts. When he's inadvertently awoken by Adrianna Tomaz (Sarah Shahi), Adam is unleashed onto the world once more to bring forth his brutal sense of justice. The film will also mark the cinematic debut of the Justice Society of America.

Also appearing in the film are Noah Centineo as Atom Smasher, Aldis Hodge as Hawkman, Quintessa Swindell as Cyclone, and Pierce Brosnan as Kent Nelson / Doctor Fate, with Marwan Kenzari as Ishmael, Bodhi Sabongui as Amon Tomaz, Mo Amer as Karim Tomaz, with Uli Latukefu and Jalon Christian as Adam's son Hurut.

A 4-part comic book tie-in called Black Adam - The Justice Society Files was released starting in July to introduce the major characters.

Black Adam was released on October 21, 2022.

Previews: DC Fandome 2021 teaser Official Trailer, Official Trailer 2

Black Adam contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Badass:
    • Reincarnation aside, Hawkman relies pretty exclusively on exotic weaponry but in terms of physical power he is quite mid-tier within the DC Universe. In this film he trades blows one-on-one with Black Adam, who is clearly restraining himself but is still a Superman-level opponent who he normally would not be able to confront in such a way.
    • Somewhat surprisingly, given that they get kicked around the whole movie, but Intergang qualifies as well. In the comics they are just a crime syndicate. They're more threatening than some, given their possession of alien technology, but are ultimately just mobsters with their sphere of influence more or less limited to a single city. Here they're an army capable of occupying and controlling an entire country for years at a time.
  • Adaptational Hairstyle Change: Black Adam has hair in the comics. Being played by The Rock, this is not the case here. This is in part due to the long period of Development Hell. When The Rock was first attached to Black Adam around the time of The Dark Knight, he still sported hair. This isn't the first time Black Adam has been depicted as bald, though that earlier case was likely invoking The Rock himself, again due to him being signed up all this time.
  • Adaptational Nationality:
    • Dr. Fate is portrayed as British rather than American.
    • Ishmael is Kahndaqi here, comicswise he is Russian and has the surname Gregor.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: In the New 52 comics, which this film takes inspiration from, Black Adam murdered his young relative Aman to steal the entirety of his nephew’s power. Here his son Hurut (who acts in Aman’s role from the comics) passes on his powers to Teth-Adam to save his life and is shortly afterwards murdered by archers to his father's horror.
  • Adaptational Wimp: In the comics, exposure to the mystical Orb of Ra transformed Ahk-Ton into a Shapeshifter, similar in appearance to the modern day hero Metamorpho. Here, he's an ordinary human. Though he sought greater power, he died before he could attain it.
  • Adapted Out:
    • All references to Hawkman's reincarnation and former life as the Egyptian Prince Khufu go unmentioned despite some iterations portraying Prince Khufu and Teth-Adam as friends, rivals or enemies. This also extends to Hawkman's Thanagarian heritage.
    • There is no mention of Nabu, the Mesopotamian deity whose power is channeled through Dr. Fate's helmet and also is familiar with Black Adam, Prince Khufu and the Wizard Shazam.
    • Two people held the title of Sabbac in the comics: Timothy Karnes and Ishmael McGregor (with McGregor having killed Karnes to take the power for himself).
    • The Tomaz family become Black Adam's equivalent to the Shazam family. Whilst the film has Adrianna, Karim and Amon seemingly as the perfect line up to become the avatars of the Enneads Isis, Sobek and Osiris, this never happens in the film depriving the middle eastern cast from playing super powered heroes.
  • Aerith and Bob: Among the locals of the Qurac setting, there are Adrianna (Italian name), her son Amon (spelling variant of the Egyptian god Amun), and her brother Karim (Arabic name); there's also their friend Samir (Arabic) and Ishmael (Hebrew).
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Ahk-Ton begged for mercy just before Teth-Adam killed him.
  • And Starring: "And Pierce Brosnan".
  • Anti-Hero: Black Adam grows into this over the course of the film. Initially he's indifferent towards the people of Kahndaq's suffering, but he's pitted against the bad guys because they're after him. At the end of the film, Black Adam decides that while he's not going to be Kahndaq's hero, he will be its protector.
  • Applied Phlebotinum:
    • Eternium, a magical metal that can only be found in Kahndaq.
    • Hawkman uses Nth Metal to construct his jet, armor, weaponry, and wings in order to be able to hang with metahumans like Black Adam.
  • Assurance Backfire: Kent assures Karim that he won't die from his gunshot wound, he'll die from electricity. This causes Karim to start panicking since he's an electrician.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: Parodied when a Car Fu rescue is scored to the not very rocking song in the car's stereo, "Baby Come Back".
  • Badass Bystander: During the Final Battle, Amon rallies the people of Kahndaq against Sabbac's demonic armies, leading an angry mob into the fight with whatever they could grab as a weapon.
    Civilian: These are our streets! Our city! Free Kahndaq!
  • Bait-and-Switch: Given how many parallels there are with Black Panther, you'd expect the movie to end with Black Adam declaring himself Kahndaq's king. Instead, he destroys the throne out of disapproval.
  • Big Bad: Ishmael is working with Intergang to retrieve the Crown of Sabbac so that he can become a demonic champion to conquer Kahndaq and turn it into a world-conquering empire.
  • Bland-Name Product: A regional variant — KFC in Kahndaq stands for Kahndaqi Fried Chicken. Atom-Smasher is later seen eating a bucket full of it.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Black Adam goes out of its way to be the night to SHAZAM's day. The setting is overrun by terrorists, anyone can be killed and the Big Bad is destroyed by incineration, only to be resurrected and split vertically.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Throughout the movie both Adam and Hawkman make valid points about dealing with the Intergang. While Adam is correct about how killing members of the Intergang is preventing them from hurting others, Hawkman is also correct that killing them is excessive and prevents them from collecting information. This deepens as the film drives towards its conclusion: Black Adam's lethal methods puts innocents around him in danger, but Hawkman also non-verbally concedes that some bad actors are just too powerful to contain and thus lethal force is really the only way to stop them.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Karim is unnerved to hear from Doctor Fate he'll die electrocuted (i.e. probably on the job). But this gives him a reason to go up in arms against the undead, saying "Don't worry, I die electrocuted!"
    • In one of his early scenes, Atom Smasher explains he needs to eat often because changing his shape consumes a lot of his body energy. Right after a fight where he used his superpower, he's seen with a KFC bucket.
    • During his fight with Hawkman, Black Adam destroys Amon's Superman poster, particularly going after the face. The Stinger has Superman first seen covered in fog before he steps forward.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: One cocky villain tries concussing Black Adam with a metal rod. It just bends the rod. Adam then sends the guy flying.
  • Bullet Catch: Adam catches one of the bullets that are shot at him with his fingers in the Fandome teaser. Repeated with a rocket later on.
  • The Bus Came Back: Superman, as played by Henry Cavill, appears for the first time since 2017 (not counting the 2021 recut). The character has not been seen, theatrically, since, fittingly enough, SHAZAM! (2019).
  • Came Back Strong: Ishmael baits Black Adam into killing him while whe's wearing the Crown of Sabbac. This allows the Demon Lords to make him their champion, resulting in him resurrecting as the infinitely more dangerous and powerful Sabbac.
  • The Cameo:
  • Canon Foreigner: Karim takes on the role of Adrianna's brother that Amon held in the comics.
  • Captain Obvious: The inscription in Crown of Sabbac, "life is the only way to death", is noted as this by some characters. But then Ishmael reverses it, "death is the only way to life", making Adrianna realize it's supposed to be mirrored - with evil implications.
  • Catchphrase: It is first Invoked by Amon when he suggests to Teth Adam that he should use “Tell them the Man in Black sent you.” This is Deconstructed throughout the movie:
    • Teth first says the phrase after he kills some terrorists in which Amon corrects him.
    • It’s later Played for Laughs when Teth drops a terrorist to his death but suddenly remembers to say the phrase too late but the guy dies before he can finish.
    • In the final fight, the Trope gets Reconstructed and Teth uses it before he deals the finishing blow to Sabbac.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: In the opening sequence, Black Adam's father warns him not to try to become a hero, as graveyards are full of them. His true importance isn't revealed until much later in the film - the father is the real Teth-Adam speaking to his son Hurut, the real champion of Kahndaq. Adam's final flashback explains how he got his powers and came to be historically conflated with his own son.
  • Close on Title: The movie ends with Teth-Adam agreeing with Amon's assessment he needs a codename. Adrianna asks what they should call him, cue title.
  • Comic-Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: The main character is only referred as "Teth-Adam" by the rest of the cast. The Close on Title ending represents Adam eventually choosing his codename, with The Stinger having both Amanda Waller and Superman addressing him by that name.
  • The Comically Serious: Teth-Adam is a Fish out of Temporal Water and isn't caught up with the times, leading to a number of conversations being based around him being oblivious to modern cultural standards or saying things that are quite inappropriate.
  • Continuity Nod: Black Adam's origin as described in SHAZAM! is mostly consistent with what's shown in the film, give or take some artistic liberties told in the story by the Wizard. However, the flashbacks stop before the Seven Deadly Sins are shown being released from the fortress.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: While not a true sequel to SHAZAM!, this movie does build on established lore from it and is the next entry set around that side of the DCEU. Whereas Billy is a young teen who becomes an undeniable force for good when he gains the powers of Shazam, Adam is a grown man and a former father who's less idealistic and isn't quite as overtly heroic. Their superhero costumes also reflect this — Billy wears a bright red suit, while Adam's is black and grimy-looking.
  • Creative Closing Credits: The titles are a sequence of items/scenes from the film surrounded by Dr. Fate's magical prisms.
  • Death-Activated Superpower: The Crown of Sabbac can only be wielded by someone who is killed and sent to the Rock of Finality.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: In regards to Thou Shalt Not Kill. Deconstructed when Black Adam tells Hawkman that his policy on killing means giving dangerous people more chances to harm innocents. Reconstructed when Hawkman brings two of the soldiers which they needed to interrogate in order to know where Ishmael is, pointing out the benefit to keep them alive. It's further reconstructed when Ishmael baits Black Adam into killing him so he can come back stronger, showing how there's sometimes a downside to killing people beyond just the usual spiel that comes with the trope.
  • Decoy Protagonist: A flashback late in the movie retells the mythologic opening and adds a few missing key elements, especially that the Teth-Adam featured in the modern-day Kahndaq isn't the young boy the prologue focuses on but his father. The moment the father replaces his son actually happens off-screen during the prologue's events, and the scene where Adam destroys Ahk-Ton's palace is set after this switch.
  • Digital Head Swap: Dwayne Johnson’s head is CGI-ed on a much less-toned body after Black Adam renounces his powers temporarily.
  • Disappeared Dad: Amon's father—Adrianna's husband—was killed by Intergang at some unknown point in the past.
  • Evil Costume Switch: Teth-Adam was shirtless, with the lightning emblem hanging akin to a giant pendant from a neck piece. And then his son is killed, and while he flies in anger a black bodysuit is summoned, while also damaging the lightning emblem and adding dull metal accessories. As mentioned below, it later changes in a Good Costume Switch.
  • Exact Words: Black Adam states that nobody on Earth can stop him, Amanda Waller responds that she can call on help from individuals who aren’t from Earth, cue the appearance of Superman.
  • Face-Revealing Turn: Adam is awoken and gives one of these to his inadvertent saviors — albeit at first most of his face is covered by his hood.
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell: When Ishmael pulls a Thanatos Gambit to get the powers of SABBAC, he's sent to Hell, which has the traditional volcanic aesthetic.
  • Foreshadowing: A lot of it:
    • The man who talks to the young boy in the prologue after saving him from the king's soldiers has his face obscured in every shot he's in. That's to hide that he is Teth-Adam, the boy’s father.
    • Ishmael executes a dude begging him for help after Teth-Adam destroyed his entire unit, just like the king's soldiers executed a man in the prologue, hinting at Ishmael being the king's descendant.
    • Teth-Adam ignores Ishmael and allows the rock ceiling to collapse on him, but seconds later saves Adrianna. Adam also keeps saving Adrianna and her brother and makes no effort to kill them. At first it seems to be a Mythology Gag to Black Adam's comic motivations (Adrianna and Karin are his countrymen, but Ishmael isn't), but then it's revealed that Ishmael is the king's descendant.
    • When Amon defiantly tells Ishmael to go to hell, Ishmael retorts "That's the plan, little man". And when the boy tells him that Teth-Adam will come for him, he sneers that he's "counting on it". This sets up Ishmael actually wanting Teth-Adam to kill him, so Adam's magic will send him to the Rock of Finality, where he will be transformed into Sabbac.
    • When Ishmael attempts to shoot Amon, he aims for a headshot. As Sabbac, he is torn in half headfirst.
    • The king has a pentagram tattooed on his body in the exact same design that Sabbac has.
    • Teth-Adam is often seen to gaze sadly at the statue of Kahndaq's legendary champion, at one point bowing his head and saying "Forgive me." Because it's not a statue of him, but the original champion, his son Hurut, whose death he blames himself for.
    • Eagle-eyed viewers will notice that the scene of Hawkman crying out in pain in Doctor Fate's vision hasn't happened by the time Ishmael dies and Black Adam willingly surrenders.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors:
    • In its natural state, Eternium is deep blue. When being used for demonic purposes, it changes to red.
    • Black Adam's lightning is blue whereas Sabbac's energy glows red.
  • Good Costume Switch: Black Adam's appearance in the current day is largely black and the lightning bolt insignia is faded. He has not renounced the power for millenia, but recalls his powers with the Shazam call and placed in prison. He was then released by Dr. Fate to face Sabbac. When he calls out Shazam again, his costume gains vibrant gold boots, belt and wrist cuffs, a black cape and his lightning bolt insignia has filled back in, signifying the evolution from an angry monster into a more heroic figure.
  • Good Versus Good: What the Justice Society and Black Adam conflict ultimately boils down to. The Justice Society fill the roles of conventional superheroes against the Unscrupulous Hero Black Adam, who ultimately ends up being A Lighter Shade of Grey by the end of the movie.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Doctor Fate smiles as he performs a Heroic Sacrifice against Sabbac.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Sabbac's demise comes by being torn in half, vertically, by Adam.
  • High-Altitude Interrogation: Two mooks receive this from Adam. And both would splat on the ground if Hawkman didn't follow him to catch them mid-fall.
  • Homage: Upon awakening in Adrianna's apartment, Teth-Adam watches one of the last scenes from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly on her television. Not too long afterward, he uses his lightning powers as a solution to a Mexican Standoff while Ennio Morricone's "The Trio" plays in the background, framed against similar shots to the ones seen in the film.
  • Hope Spot: Hawkman and the rest of the Justice Society come this close to saving Doctor Fate... only to be seconds too late, resulting in them being unable to do anything but watch Doctor Fate die.
  • Identical Grandson: Ishmael is King Ahk-Ton's descendant. They are played by the same actor.
  • Immune to Bullets: Adam gets shot at by several men with assault rifles.
  • I'm Not a Hero, I'm...: Despite what Adrianna and Amon believe, Teth-Adam is insistent that he is not a hero, or a champion. At the end of the movie, he points out that Kahndaq is already full of heroes, and wholeheartedly proclaims himself a "protector" instead.
  • Ironic Echo: Attempted by Teth-Adam. Dr. Fate has to explain "That was sarcasm" after the Sarcasm-Blind Adam misunderstands a joke. Later, Teth-Adam promises not to torture a prisoner, then immediately does so, and shoots back "That was sarcasm." Kent responds, "Actually that was just lying."
  • Keystone Army: Defeating Sabbac also banishes the legions of hell.
  • Kryptonite Factor: Eternium is a magical mineral found in Kahndaq, used in creating the Crown of Sabbac and Intergang has co-opted trace amounts in their own tech. It proves to be the only thing able to reliably harm Adam. This tracks with a statement in SHAZAM! (2019) that they can only be harmed by related entities.
  • Logo Joke: On a dark stormy background, we see the Warner Brothers logo made of Eternium. As the shield breaks up and lightning strikes, it transitions to an orange cloudy background for New Line logo.
  • Mama Bear: Adrianna is fiercely protective of her son Amon, especially since she already lost her husband to Intergang. After Amon is abducted by Ishmael and his Intergang cronies, she beats the absolute crap out of two captured terrorists to make them give up his location, and is later willing to trade the Crown of Sabbac for her son's safety, even knowing that it falling into Ishmael's hands could lead to disaster.
  • Musical Nod:
  • Myth Prologue: The film starts with the story of the legendary Champion of Kahndaq (actually Teth Adam's son Hurut) and how he defeated King Ahk-Ton.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Atom Smasher's costume is red and black, homaging his original Nuklon costume.
    • Cyclone's costume pays tribute to her normal green costume, her purple ribbon costume from the Kingdom Come comic, and hosts a vest with a red tornado from it (belonging to her grandmother, the Red Tornado hero).
    • Throughout the film Amon is seen wearing a red shirt with a star in the middle. In the comic book Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam the titular character wears the same shirt as his main civilian wardrobe throughout its run.
    • Cyclone has a monkey toy. In the comics she had an animal sidekick, a monkey named Frankie.
    • The metal Eternium originated in 1998 in the "Legion of Super-Heroes" comics, where it was used in the origin of Thunder (CeCe Beck), the future era's Shazam.
    • The Amulet of Isis makes an appearance, though Adrianna does not wear it.
    • Ahk-Ton's soldiers have horned helmets as a tribute to Shazam villain King Kull, the leader of a conquering race who all sported horned helmets.
    • When Ishmael is sent to hell, one of the demons there bears a distinct likeness to Blaze the demoness, who fought Shazam and Superman in the comics.
    • Black Adam's position, sitting on his throne in the promotional material for the movie, is similar to his 52 cover. Albeit he then deems it "wrong" and destroys the throne.
    • When attempting to free Black Adam, Dr. Fate performs the hand signs from his victory animation in Injustice 2.
    • Following Sabbac's defeat, Atom-Smasher suggests that he and Teth-Adam could team up again sometime, referencing their comic counterparts' long-time friendship.
    • The panels on the walls of Teth-Adam's prison are ancient depictions of the Seven Deadly Sins.
  • N.G.O. Superpower: Intergang is depicted with Private Military Contractor-stylings with access to very exotic technology, a more grounded approach to their more Legion of Doom-esque portrayal in the comics, but it's said they have complete control over the city. No actual head of Intergang or even a Puppet King is shown to explain who is actually in charge and why this is considered acceptable by the rest of the world (the JSA is derided for ignoring the people suffering in Kahndaq until Black Adam caught their attention), while the primary foe of the movie is Ishmael who appears to be an upper leader and not the head of the organization.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Though Teth-Adam speaks Egyptian (before suddenly learning English, possibly thanks to Adrianna summoning him by reading hieroglyphics in the English language or gaining the knowledge via the wisdom of Zehuti), he speaks with the Rock's natural American accent.
  • Off Hand Backhand: Just as Atom Smasher notes he almost hit Adam, Hawkman flies straight into the hand Albert raises.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • Karim towards his nephew Amon once Ishmael shows up at their home, holds them at gunpoint, and tries to steal the crown from them. He attacks Ishmael and holds him off while yelling for Amon to run, giving the boy a chance to escape, though he takes a bullet to the gut for his trouble. Luckily, he survives.
    • In the past, Adam was this towards his son Hurut, desperately trying to rescue him from being executed for starting an uprising before, luckily, the Council of Wizards saved him and made him their champion. When Hurut later shared his powers with Adam to save him and was then immediately killed in his normal form, Adam went full Knight Templar Parent and murdered Ahk-Ton and all of his forces in revenge.
  • Paper Tiger: Sabbac's legion of Hell are matched and killed quite easily by regular Kahndaqi citizens armed with everyday regular items.
  • Pillar of Light: Of the typical superhero-movie-climax variety. Sabbac sitting on his ancestor's throne shoots one into the sky and opens a portal to Hell in the sky... though nothing comes out of it, with all the "legions of Hell" arising from the ground.
  • Poster-Gallery Bedroom: Amon's bedroom is filled with superhero posters and memorabilia, most of gets wrecked during the course of the film. It accurately pegs him as a superhero fanboy who wants Teth-Adam to be one for Kahndaq.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "Tell them the man in black sent you." Though it takes three attempts for Adam to nail it — the first time he says after everyone is gone, the second the guy dies before he can complete the phrase. The third time, he remembers to say the line before ripping Sabbac in half.
  • Product Placement: During the briefing scene on the heroes' ship, Atom-Smasher is seen munching potato chips from a Frito's Baked Lays bag.
  • Qurac: Kahndaq's position isn't shownnote , but it is undoubtedly a Middle-Eastern country. Its population is Arabic-speaking (there are Arabic inscriptions everywhere) set in a desert area, with a Mesopotamian past. Instead of the usual portrayals of this trope, modern-day Kahndaq is portrayed as an occupied country exploited by a terrorist group.
  • Race Lift:
    • Black Adam is usually depicted as pale, light skinned or an olive/tanned Middle Easterner. Musculature aside, Dwayne Johnson doesn't really resemble the character, ironically his billed height of 6'5" makes him even taller than the character.
    • Hurut's actors are both of indegenous Oceanic ethnicities (Adult Hurut's actor being Tongan Australian) despite the character being West Asian. This is to match his onscreen father.
    • Cyclone is usually depicted as white in the comics. They are portrayed by a half black actor here.
    • Ishmael aka Sabbac is Russian in the comics. Here he is portrayed by Dutch Tunisian Marwan Kenzari.
    • Hawkman is either Egyptian (going off his Khufu incarnation) or White American (most of his Carter Hall incarnations). While his other incarnation are typically white passing aliens. Here he is Black.
    • Wizard Shazam returns in cameo flashback where he is yet again portrayed by French Beninese Djimon Hounso but the character is Australian Aboriginal.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: The film recounts the origins of Black Adam three times over the course of the film, with more details being added each time.
    • The first time, the historically recorded version is recounted by Amon. In this version, Black Adam was a child slave who revolted against his masters and was granted the power of SHAZAM to become Kahndaq's champion. He challenged the tyrannical King Ahk-Ton who was wearing the Crown of Sabbac, and defeated him in battle; afterwards, he was entombed within the mountain.
    • The second time, a more critical version based on surviving ancient texts is recounted by Hawkman. In this version, Black Adam was a ruthless killer who stopped Ahk-Ton from using the crown and then murdered him and destroyed his palace in cold blood. He was then imprisoned by the Council of Wizards.
    • The third time, Adam himself gives testimony to the actual events of his past. The historical champion was actually his son Hurut, who was an honorable defender of the innocent. Eventually, Ahk-Ton ordered Teth-Adam and his wife to be murdered to break Hurut. Hurut gave his father his powers to save him and was killed by the assassins, causing an enraged and grieving Teth-Adam to go on a violent rampage that resulted in Ahk-Ton's demise.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Kent Mason is an older but very handsome and well-dressed man who appears to be in his sixties, but because of the Helmet of Fate he is actually quite a bit older, though left unsaid exactly how old. He has a monologue talking about his feelings watching soldiers heading out to fight World War I.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Adrianna lets the JSA have it for nominally protecting international peace, yet doing nothing to stop Intergang from oppressing Kahndaq until a superhuman showed up.
  • Recruit the Muggles: The citizens of Kahndaq rally to fight the undead Mooks the Big Bad is raising in the climax and keep them from aiding the evil sorcerer (who is keeping the heroes pretty busy by himself anyway).
  • Reduced to Dust: An unlucky mercenary meets his demise when approaching Adam, getting reduced to a skeleton crumbling in ashes by Adam's lightning.
  • Related Differently in the Adaptation: In the comics, Adrianna and Amon Tomaz were siblings. Here, they are mother and son.
  • Relative Error: Teth-Adam mistakes Karim - Adrianna's brother - as her husband.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Apparently, the Justice Society was already established and has probably been around as the same time as the Justice League. Amanda Waller even knows them, and called to deal with Black Adam.
  • Revenge Is Not Justice: Adrianna's faith in Adam takes a hit when she discovers that he didn't kill the cruel king of Kahndaq for the sake of liberating its people, but did so as vengeance for his son's death.
  • Rogues' Gallery Transplant:
    • Akh-Ton, the ruler of Kahndaq in this film, was Egyptian in the comics and an enemy of the hero Metamorpho, although he was previously portrayed as the conqueror of Kahndaq in Geoff Johns' JSA.
    • Intergang are normally associated with Superman, but here they're neo-colonialist occupiers of Kahndaq whom Black Adam faces. Humorously enough, Superman does appear in the movie towards the end, but by then, Teth-Adam has already dealt with Intergang.
    • Sabbac got his start as a villain to Shazam in the comics but in this movie, he's the Big Bad that Black Adam and the JSA face first.
    • Likewise, despite being an Anti-Hero protagonist in the movie, Black Adam doesn't start out as a villain for Shazam/Billy like in the source material. He first battles the JSA and develops an uneasy relationship with them. Later on he meets Superman on neutral terms, covering some fairly large ground with confronting multiple other superheroes before he can even get acquainted with Shazam.
  • Running Gagged: The film finally puts an end to the trend of "faceless Superman" appearances in the DCEU, although not before running with it one last time early on in the film. Black Adam zaps a Superman poster after waking up startled from his sleep, shooting a hole through its face (although other Superman merchandise can be seen in various background shots of Amon's room). A fully faced Superman, played once more by Henry Cavill, appears in the mid-credits scene to talk with Black Adam.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Teth-Adam was sealed away by the wizard Shazam after he started abusing his powers. Adrianna, an experienced archeologist, releases him from the imprisonment when it appeared that Intergang would acquire the Crown of Sabbac. While quick to violence and dislikes being applauded as a champion, he is nonetheless not the worst being in the setting. Interestingly, when he appears Waller and the Justice Society is already well-versed on his existence and are quick to respond.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • Adam is in the destroyed palace at night when a drone comes in showing a holographic interface with Amanda Waller. She tells him to remain in Kahndaq or they'll have to take him out. Adam claims no one on the planet can harm him, and Waller says she'll make a few calls to send someone not off this world. Out of the fog a caped figure arrives and Superman (played again by Henry Cavill) asks him to chat.
    • The Helmet of Fate teleports off to find a new host after Kent Nelson's death.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The jet hidden underneath Hawkman's mansion is a tribute to the X-Men Film Series having a similar base.
    • Towards the Marvel Cinematic Universe:
      • Kahndaq's iridescent silver-blue Eternium' bears a similar appearance to Wakanda's vibranium.
      • Dr. Fate's helmet shot is similar to those worn by Tony Stark and other armor-wearers.
      • Dr. Fate's solo fight against Sabbac resembles Doctor Strange's fight against Thanos, particularly the scene where he creates illusory duplicates of himself.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Turns out the "Champion of Kahndaq" was a Composite CharacterTeth-Adam's son Hurut was the child hero who escaped his execution and chosen by the wizards to become their champion. Adam was given the power by his son (who was killed while vulnerable), and Adam was the one to confront the king and destroy the palace. The king also hadn't used the Crown of Sabbac to become the demon champion; Adam massacred everyone out of rage instead of a pitched battle. The statue of the Champion of Kahndaq that remains in the city is Hurut, who was the Ideal Hero.
  • The Stinger: Amanda Waller warns Black Adam that he better keep himself in Kahndaq. He boasts no one in this planet can beat him. She replies she can use people Not of This Earth. And once he destroys Waller's transmitter, Superman is there wanting to talk to Adam...
  • Stupid Evil: How do Akh-Ton's men reward slaves who manage to find and dig up Eternium ore? Why, by executing them in front of all the other slaves, of course! Because there is just no way that basically telling the slaves that outnumber you a hundred to one "you can either work yourself to death or do your job and die anyway" could potentially lead to a revolt.
  • Superhero Origin: Depicting the origin of Adam and how he gained the powers of Shazam, many years before Billy Batson did the same thing.
  • Superman Stays Out of Gotham:
    • Being a sequel of sorts to SHAZAM! (2019), the only connection with the film is the general lore of Black Adam himself with Djimon Hounsou making a cameo as The Wizard. Anything associated with Billy Batson is not mentioned in any form. That said, the core conflict of the movie is the JSA crossing national borders looking to subdue Adam before things get out of control. The Sequel Hook also has Waller say she will ignore Black Adam if he stays in Kahndaq, but has already made contact with Superman himself to get involved.
    • In a variation of sorts, the Justice Society is sent by Waller rather than her signature Suicide Squad, though justified, given how most of the previous team is either dead, freed, or working on their own mission.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Amon is one to Freddy Freeman from SHAZAM!; both are superhero fanboys who encourage one who has been empowered by magic to embrace being a hero.
  • Takes Ten to Hold: A variant by Doctor Fate, and a favored tactic of his. He makes nearly a dozen copies of himself, half of whom busy themselves restraining Teth-Adam in both bouts between Adam and the Justice Society, and does it again to Sabbac in the final battle. Naturally, in all three cases he doesn't hold them for long, but it's still a testament to his skill and power that the recipients visibly struggled to break free.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Ishmael lets himself be killed so the evil underworld forces can allow him to be revived as their champion.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: The movie reconstructs the concept. While Adam and citizens of Kahndaq have little issue with lethal force, namely because it's directed primarily at a brutal occupation by Intergang, the Justice Society adamantly embraces the ideal; this serves as a major source of contention between them and Adam. It is shown that while having the mercy to spare lives isn't without issues, there are also pragmatic reasons to do so in addition to moral ones, such as being able to interrogate others or harming innocents when you get too reckless in trying to kill villains.
  • There Was a Door: At first, Teth-Adam has a tendency to break through walls when other means of travel are present, for some reason. Eventually, Kent asks him if there were doors back in his time after this keeps happening for a while.
  • Tomato Surprise: No, Teth-Adam wasn't corrupted by his power and turned evil. The original Adam, who's a chosen paragon of virtue and true hero bequeathed his powers to save his dad, but got killed in this moment of vulnerability. The Teth-Adam who mostly appears in the movie is actually the second Adam, not the original chosen one, but rather just a grieving father with all the human flaws that implies.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The Intergang Mercs, big time. When they realize, after emptying their assault rifles, that their bullets have no effect on Adam, they reload and resume shooting him. And they then keep antagonizing him even though it's clear by that point that, on top of being able to shrug off pretty much anything they throw at him, he can and very much will kill them with extreme prejudice if they get in his way.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Teth-Adam outright says in both trailers that his son died to save his life — something the film itself does not reveal until around the halfway mark. It does not reveal, however, that Teth-Adam's son was the champion, and not himself.
  • The Unchosen One: What Teth-Adam really is. He was not the one chosen to receive the powers of Shazam, but rather the father of The Chosen One Hurut. When Ahk-Ton decided to defeat his enemy by targeting his loved ones instead, Hurut willingly transferred his powers to Adam to save him from a mortal injury, leaving him vulnerable to being killed, and a newly empowered Adam being really pissed off and going on a massive destructive rampage, lacking the nobler qualities of his son that marked him as a true hero. To his credit, Adam is fully aware of this, but is implied to keep the powers of Shazam because they're all he has left to remember his son by.
  • Unhand Them, Villain!: Teth-Adam demands a eternium bike pilot drop Amon, and the pilot complies by dropping him down the stairwell in the center of the building, using the distraction to escape. Amon suggests Adam choose his words more carefully next time. When Adam catches the pilot and then flies off in pursuit of Ishmael, the pilot begs to be let go, and Adam echoes Amon before dropping the guy to his death.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Teth-Adam succumbed to this after losing his family, unleashing a burst of magical lightning that destroyed everything around him. He succumbs again in the present when Ishmael tries to shoot Amon.
  • Values Dissonance: An In-Universe example. The film balances Black Adam's brutal heroism, based on his background as a slave in a dark era of Kahndaq, against the JSA and their brighter, more optimistic brand of heroism.
  • Villain Protagonist: To an extent. Adam makes clear he's not a hero (that was his son) and that he's all for violence, preferably lethal force, against those who oppose him, when other heroes ascribe to Thou Shall Not Kill. At any rate, he's shown being more outwardly antagonistic towards civilians, heedless of collateral damage when fighting. But even if he's clearly not greatly invested in protecting them, he ends up an accidental savior, as shown by how right away his reintroduction is saving Adrianna and Karim from the Intergang, and Doctor Fate reminds Adam that he can choose to be this or to save the world instead.
  • Villains Want Mercy: As shown in flashbacks, the tyrannical Ahk-Ton spent his last moments begging Teth-Adam for his life.
  • Wham Line:
    • Amanda Waller's response to Black Adam's claim that no one on this planet can stop him.
      Amanda Waller: I can call in a favor and send in people who aren't from this planet.
    • This leads to Adam telling her to send them all, and shortly after this happens, someone arrives on the scene. (In this case, who is saying the line is more of a "Wham" than what is being said.)
      Superman: It's been a while since anyone made the world this nervous, Black Adam. We should talk.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Hawkman repeatedly calls out Black Adam for his brutal methods. Adam usually responds with some variation on how said methods are more effective than Hawkman's own.
    • Adrianna gives the whole Justice Society a dressing down for the fact that Kahndaq has been living under a brutal regime for years while they stood by and did nothing, only turning up when another superhuman finally starts doing something about the situation and attacking them while sparing the brutal guards.
  • Worf Had the Flu:
    • Black Adam holds no restraint against the Intergang paramilitary as he identifies them as deserving no mercy. But there is a sense he recognizes the JSA as genuine heroes trying to do what is right, so his actions are more in self-defense and will knock them down while avoiding a killing blow.
    • Doctor Fate similarly holds back in his fight with Sabbac; while he easily could've defeated him, there was no scenario in which he beat him and Hawkman still lived, leading to him willingly sacrificing his life to protect the rest of the Justice Society and to ensure that Black Adam stayed good.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Doctor Fate does one on Sabbac to try to prevent him from reaching Kahndaq's throne. Worth noting is that he willingly dies in the battle (as a means to save Hawkman's life), and that Sabbac briefly accomplishes his goals before the rest of the Justice Society and Black Adam take him down.

"You can be the destroyer of this world, or you can be its savior. That's up to you."

Alternative Title(s): Black Adam