Black Adam succeeds in changing the hierarchy of power in the DC Universe by focusing on legacy.
Black Adam, directed by Jaume Collet-Serra is the latest installment in the newly christened “DCU”, or DC Universe. The DCU is the collective mega-franchise that started with Zack Snyder’s Man Of Steel in 2013.
Black Adam introduces The Rock as he plays Teth-Adam, the titular antihero of this brand new movie. The Justice Society, the world’s first superhero team, was also introduced to the DCU. Atom Smasher, Hawkman, Cyclone and Dr. Fate were the members of this astonishing team.
In the source material, legacy is one of the most important elements in both Black Adam and Justice Society storylines. The Justice Society predates the Justice League, and several of the characters therein have long-lasting legacy.
Take Jay Garrick and Alan Scott for example. Though they weren’t featured in Black Adam, and they are less famous than their successors, these two heroes gave start to a long, powerful legacy of heroism. Garrick is the first Flash, and Scott is the first Green Lantern. There have been dozens of speedsters and Green Lanterns to wear the mantle since this incredible legacy began, but it all began with Jay Garrick and Alan Scott.
BLACK ADAM: OFFICIAL SPOILER WARNING
Before moving onto the analysis of the theme of legacy in Black Adam, please consider this your official spoiler warning. If you have not seen the film and wish to remain spoiler free, turn back now and buy a ticket at your local theater!
The Justice Society, the Tomaz and Adam families, and the whole of Kahndaq are built around legacy. Kahndaq is introduced in it’s glory days, thousands of years in the past. We are told that it was one of the first prosperous and civilized countries in the world, before it fell to corrupt dictatorial rule. An evil King obsessed with power enslaved his own people, including Teth-Adam, his wife, and his son Uruk.
Realizing the great injustice that had befallen the people of Kahndaq, the Wizard Shazam and his associated sorcerors imbued Uruk with the power of the gods. For a brief time, Uruk fought to save Kahndaq, but he was unable to bring about great change before the king’s men went after his family. Uruk had a good heart, and so he gave his father Teth-Adam his superpowers, before being almost immediately assassinated.
Teth-Adam, the new champion of Kahndaq sought revenge against the king for taking the lives of his son and his wife. His rage built to an uncontrollable level, and he decimated dozens of people with his violent reckoning. In response, the Wizard’s trapped him in a magical tomb, knowing that violence, death and heartache were the true legacy of Teth-Adam’s story.
BLACK ADAM IS THE HEART OF KAHNDAQ’S LEGACY
Over the next 5,000 years, the story of Kahndaq’s champion was warped and twisted into something more benevolent, and the passing of powers from father to son was not something the people were aware of. As foreign invader after foreign invader took control of Kahndaq from the last to hold it, the legend of Kahndaq’s fallen savior became part of the country’s legacy…as did the status quo of undeserving rulers running the country, like Intergang.
At the end of Black Adam, our hero defeats and kills Ishmael, AKA Sabbac. Ishmael was a descendant of the king who enslaved Kahndaq, and he believed his rightful position in the country was that of ruler. The hellish legacy his ancestor started all those years ago was brought full circle by Ishmael, when he became the champion of the underworld.
After Intergang and Sabbac were destroyed, the position of Kahndaq’s ruler/king was vacant once more. Briefly it is suggested that Teth-Adam take over as dictator, like he has been in the comic books. Ultimately, Black Adam wants his legacy to be that of Kahndaq’s protector, not it’s king, and so he destroys the throne.
BLACK ADAM: THE IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY TIES AND HERITAGE
Even the supporting cast of characters are intrinsically tied to this idea of long-standing legacy. Adrianna Tomaz is fighting to protect her country, possessing eternium (a powerful fictional substance unique to Kahndaq) that has been passed down from generation to generation. She has lost a husband, and she has both a brother and a son to protect. Like Black Adam, she has not only a personal interest in the battle for Kahndaq’s soul, but a feeling of generational responsibility as well.
When it comes to the Justice Society, two of the four heroes are literally “legacies”. Cyclone is the descendant of Ma Hunkel, the Red Tornado, a former member of the Justice Society. Atom Smasher is the nephew of the original hero of the same name, and he says that following in those footsteps is all he’s ever wanted. Hawkman and Dr. Fate spend time with these new recruits, teaching them their perspective on what it means to be a superhero and what’s worth fighting for throughout the course of the movie. Generational responsibility and historical precedent are a big part of what drives this team on the comic book page and this live-action adaptation honors that concept beautifully.
Black Adam is about fathers and sons, brothers and sisters, and friends and family. It is a powerful story about national pride and the way that belief in a legacy can change us, for better or worse.
This new superhero movie even honors and acknowledges the legacy of the “DCU” by bringing back Henry Cavill as Superman for his first new scene since the filming of Justice League.
Black Adam is playing exclusively in theaters now! What do you think the legacy of Black Adam will be? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on our social media!