Black Adam has presented Warner Brothers with an Isis problem, and the way that they choose to resolve it could have a lasting impact on public perception of the Middle East.
Black Adam is an upcoming DCEU movie that will tell the story of titular antihero, The Justice Society of America, and Isis, on the big screen for the very first time. Black Adam is most famously known as the arch nemesis of Shazam, but the character has gone from anti-hero to villain and back again, on more than one occasion.
In the weekly DC Comics series 52, Black Adam met and freed an Egyptian slave woman named Adrianna Tomaz. After spending several weeks counseling Black Adam, the two fell in love. Black Adam presented her with the amulet of the Egyptian Goddess Isis, and with Shazam’s help, he bestowed Adrianna with the power of the Mythical Goddess of nature. .
Just as Teth-Adam (Black Adam) and Billy Batson (Shazam) say “Shazam!” in order to wield their magical power, Adrianna must say “I Am Isis!” in order to become Isis. As Isis, she has the same powerset as Black Adam and the ability to control nature. The two metahumans wed and became the rulers of the fictional middle eastern nation of Kahndaq.
Isis’ Name Could Cause Problematic Confusion
Obviously, Adrianna Tomaz has no connections to the terrorist group known as The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, but they do share the namesake. The infamous real world Jihadist group has committed numerous heinous crimes, including but not limited to murder, slavery, and sexual assault. The genocidal organization has destroyed countless lives and continues to do so to this very day.
As Isis is both the name of the Earth’s most notorious organization of terrorists on the planet and Adrianna Tomaz’ alter ego, Warner Brothers is coming to a crossroads with the story of Black Adam. Should they change her name to avoid the possibility of general audiences confusing their new superhero with a terrorist organization, or should they stay true to the source material?
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS is the most widely recognized term for the organization, but it is not the most accurate. The Islamic State of Iraq and The Levant, or ISIL is actually the most appropriate term. The reasoning behind that is a bit complicated, but this Encyclopedia Britannica article explains it very well. Regardless of accuracy, ISIS has a much nicer ring to it than ISIL, and so the media has largely adopted the former term instead of the latter.
Media outlets like CNN and Fox News have spent a great deal of time and energy covering stories about the terrorist group, and consequently, conversations about ISIL have dominated the political landscape for years. An unfortunate byproduct of this is the direct association between ISIL and the Middle East.
While anyone with a modicum of common sense knows that ISIL does not represent Iraq, Syria, or the Middle East, common sense is tragically scarce these days. The countries that have been subjected to the terrible cruelty and wrath of isil are so much more than the evildoers within their border, but the west has largely failed to acknowledge that.
[Click on Page 2 To Find Out How DC’s Isis Can Be a Powerful Force For Proper Representation in the DCEU]