Described: Hero or villain, who is Black Adam?


Warner Bros. has set 2022 and 2023 to be big years for DC Comics, as they are planning to release many films based on their comic book properties. Movies based on heroes like Batman, The Flash, Blue Beetle, and Aquaman, with even Krypto the Super-Dog leading his own animated film. Yet one film stands apart, Black Adam, which is set to focus on one of the company’s villains and might radically alter the DCEU. Unlike Joker, who got his own feature film, Black Adam is not a household name and is likely a character unknown to mainstream audiences.

Yet with Dwayne Johnson set to star in the film (saying he was “born to play” Black Adam) and the final major Warner Bros. movie releasing in 2022, the studio is betting big on Black Adam to be a major player in the franchise going forward. Here is the character’s comic book roots, his supporting players, previous depictions in media, the road to the big screen, and everything that is known about the film to be ready before Black Adam arrives in theaters.


Updated August 30, 2022: This article has been updated to reflect changes to Black Adam’s release date and the film’s trailer.

Comic Book Origins of Black Adam


Introduced in The Marvel Family #1 way back in December 1945 by creators Otto Binder and C.C. Beck, the character Black Adam only appeared in one storyline in the Fawcett Comics Era. Black Adam is an ancient Egyptian named Teth-Adam who is chosen by the wizard, who will eventually pick Billy Batson instead, to be his successor due to his presumed moral purity. When he says the word ‘Shazam,’ he is transformed into Black Adam, and he uses his powers to kill the pharaoh and take over the throne, for which the Wizard sends him off to a distant star for his betrayal. Black Adam spends the next 5,000 years flying back to Earth, where he fights Billy Batson, who tricks him into saying the word ‘Shazam,’ reverting him to Teth-Adam and killing him due to 5,000 years of aging.

The character was revived in 1973 when DC Comics gained the rights to publish Captain Marvel and renamed the book Shazam! due to Marvel Comics now owning the copyright on the Captain Marvel name. Black Adam would pop up in stories retelling Shazam’s origin and as a powerful opponent to fight characters like Superman. Yet in the 21st Century, the character was positioned as an antihero by future DC film writers Geoff Johns (Wonder Woman 1984) and David S. Goyer (Batman Begins).


Their comic book JSA focused on the character’s old-fashioned and militant ideals of justice and strongly opinionated attitude which would contrast with other characters. He was a member of the Justice Society of America for a short while and has been a part of a number of major DC storylines, including Infinite Crisis, 52, Forever Eviland Doomsday Clock. In the wake of the recent DC continuity shake-up in the storyline Infinite FrontierBlack Adam has now joined the Justice League.

Black Adam’s Supporting Characters


While originally a villain of Shazam, Black Adam has developed a rich group of supporting characters of his own who mirror the family Billy Batson has created in his superhero persona. The most notable is Adriana Tomaz aka Isis, who herself was inspired by the main character of The Secrets of Isiswhich served as the second half of the Shazam!/Isis hour on 1970s television. She is a young Egyptian woman who Black Adam frees, and she eventually changes the way he looks at the world and becomes a calming influence on him to commit kinder acts. The two fall in love, and at their wedding, he bestows on her a bracelet that grants her the powers of the god Isis. The character is set to appear in the movie, played by Sarah Shahi.

Another important character is Isis’ brother, Amon Tomaz, who becomes the character Osiris. He gains his powers by saying Black Adam’s name after the ruler bestowed him with powers to heal. The character has been a member of the Teen Titans and while not cast in the film, young actor Bodhi Sabongui has been cast in the film, and on the CW television series Legends of Tomorrow, he played a young Bernard, the Arrowverse version of the Amon Tomaz character, so that’s an interesting connection.

The character also has a complicated history with various Justice Society of America membersbeing both an ally to them and an enemy, a plot point that appears to be a major part of the upcoming film and could even lead to spin-off projects.

Previous On-Screen Appearances


Due to the character being one of the strongest villains in the DC Universe, he has often found himself adapted into a number of other projects outside the comics. Black Adam has appeared in a number of animated series like Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Young Justiceand Justice League Action. In 2010, he was the primary villain in the DC animated short film Superman/Shazam! The Return of Black Adam, which would be one of many face-offs between the villain and the man of steel.


The villain’s strength was showcased in the cinematic trailer for the game DC Universe Online, fighting both Green Lantern and The Flash, and the character has been a playable fighter in both Injustice: Gods Among Us and Injustice 2where the character is aligned with the villainous Superman who has taken over the Earth, though he wasn’t in the animated movie based on the game.

Black Adam’s Road to the Big Screen


Black Adam’s road to theaters has been tied to that of Shazam!as the character was often intended to be the main antagonist in the film. New Line Cinema had been developing a Shazam! film in 2000 with Peter Segal set to direct. After having worked with Dwayne Johnson in the movie Get SmartSegal approach the actor about playing the main hero, but Johnson expressed interest in the villainous Black Adam and has been circling the role since 2007, meaning that Johnson has been attached to the role of Black Adam longer than the MCU has even existed.

In 2014, it was officially announced that Johnson would play Black Adam in the DCEU, and the original plan was for him to be the villain in the then-upcoming Shazam! However, in 2017 and as Johnson’s star power grew, Warner Bros. decided to not just use the actor as a villain or supporting character and split Black Adam off from Shazam! with the villain getting his own solo film that would eventually lead to a crossover between the two characters.

While not appearing in Shazam!the character of Black Adam is referenced by The Wizard when explaining his previous champion, and Johnson’s likeness is used. In 2019, just a few months after Shazam! opened, it was announced that Jaume Collet-Serra would direct after having worked with Johnson on The Jungle Cruise. The film was originally set for release on December 22, 2021, but the release date has been delayed first to July 29, 2022, and now to Oct. 21, 2022, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Movie’s Plot Details


After only a few brief teases, Black Adam finally premiered a trailer in June 2022. It appears Black Adam will be crossing paths with the DCEU version of the Justice Society of America, which will consist of Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell), and Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo). Toy leaks have revealed that the villain Sabbac will appear, played by actor Marwan Kenzari. In the film, Sabbac will be Ishmael Gregor who is the leader of the criminal organization Intergang and becomes possessed by a demon, likely forcing Black Adam and the Justice Society to team up.

It is also unclear at what point in time this film takes place in the DCEU. While traditionally the Justice Society are the precursors to the Justice League, the team now seems to be formed after and might be working for Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) reprising her role from 2016’s Suicide Squad2021’s The Suicide Squadand the Peacemaker television series. With Black Adam set for release before Shazam! Fury of the Godsthere is a chance Black Adam could end teasing that film and a possible showdown between the two comic book rivals.

Regardless, the film will have a major impact on the DCEU moving forward, as Dwayne Johnson has teased Black Adam will shift the balance of power. Black Adam will be a major force that other characters like Superman, Wonder Woman, and the rest of the Justice League may have to deal with in future films, whatever the state of the DCEU looks like following the recent restriction and Warner Brothers’ cancelation of projects like Wonder Twins and Batgirl. An entire film based on a classic comic book villain could go either way, but it suggests a world of possibilities for the DCEU moving forward.

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