Dwayne Johnson’s Egyptian antihero kneels to no one in first Black Adam trailer

Dwayne John stars as Teth-Adam, future nemesis of Shazam, in black adam.


It’s been 15 long years since Dwayne Johnson expressed interest in playing Black Adam, a classic DC Comics supervillain from the 1940s. The project has been stuck in development hell for years, but the movie finally hits theaters this fall. And now we have the first trailer for black adamgiving us insight into the character’s origin story and his inevitable run-in with the Justice League of America (JLA).


(Spoilers for some comics below.)

The character made an appearance as a villain in the first issue of The Marvel Family comic in 1945. Canonically, it is an ancient Egyptian named Teth-Adam, whom the wizard Shazam prefers to be the latter’s successor. Teth-Adam was supposed to be pure of heart, but once empowered with the powers of Shazam, he became corrupted, killed the ruling pharaoh, and took the Egyptian throne. Shazam was unable to revoke these powers, so he exiled Teth-Adam to the most distant star in the universe.

It took Teth-Adam 5,000 years to return to Earth – it was the 1940s, after all – at which point he met the Marvel Family. Eventually, a family member tricks him into repeating “Shazam”, and Teth-Adam reverts to his human form, aging 5,000 years instantly. Here is the story described in 2019 Shazam, when the Wizard explains what happened to young Billy Batson. (In this movie’s version, Teth-Adam, aka Black Adam, unleashed the Seven Deadly Sins on Earth and wiped out entire civilizations.)

Enlarge / Black Adam and Hawkman, debating the ethics of heroes killing villains.

YouTube/DC/Warner Bros.

DC Comics acquired the rights to Black Adam in the 1970s, and he became a recurring character in their Shazam Family comic. Initial interest in making a film centered around the character dates back to the early 2000s, with Johnson in the title role, but New Line Cinema put development on hold in 2009. In 2014, Warner Bros. takes over the project, with the intention of making Black Adam a part of the DCEU. Originally, Johnson’s Black Adam was to appear as a villain in Shazam, but by then he was a huge, bankable movie star, and the studio decided to give him a standalone movie. (It appears as a hologram when the wizard tells the story to Billy.)

black adam reunites Johnson with Jungle Cruise director Jaume Collet-Serra. The premise of the film is that an exiled Black Adam reappears some 5,000 years after his banishment and is propelled into the modern world, where his ruthless approach to fighting evildoers doesn’t quite mesh with mainstream cultural mores.

black adam will also introduce the JSA to the DCEU. Pierce Brosnan plays Kent Nelson, aka Doctor Fate, a JSA member who wields a magical helmet. Noah Centineo plays Atom Smasher, a member of the JSA who can manipulate his molecular structure to change his size and strength. Aldis Hodge plays Hawkman, an archaeologist and the reincarnation of an Egyptian prince. Its wing characteristics give it the power to fly. And Quintessa Swindell plays Cyclone, the Red Tornado’s granddaughter, who controls the wind and can produce sound.

Pierce Brosnan plays Doctor Fate, who has learned sorcery and is in possession of the magical Helmet of Fate.
Enlarge / Pierce Brosnan plays Doctor Fate, who has learned sorcery and is in possession of the magical Helmet of Fate.

YouTube/DC/Warner Bros.

The cast also includes Sarah Shahi as Adrianna Tomaz, a college professor and resistance fighter in the fictional nation of Kahndaq, Black Adam’s original homeland. She’s drawn a love interest in the strips, and it seems likely she’ll fill a similar role in the film. We also know that the criminal group Intergang will appear in the film.

The trailer hints at the character’s origin story, as we see Teth-Adam as a slave in ancient Egypt who loses his son and is granted godlike powers quite similar to Shazam’s. But we don’t learn much about the plot. It’s apparently on purpose, according to producer Hiram Garcia, who said io9 recently that this first trailer is meant to be more of a teaser. There are glimpses of Atom Smasher, Cyclone, and Doctor Fate, who tells Black Adam he can choose to be a villain or a savior of this world. Thera is also a telling interaction with Hawkman, who can be interpreted as the moral foil to Black Adam’s antihero. Hawkman insists superheroes don’t kill people. “Well, I do,” Black Adam replies. And of course, we get snippets of Johnson’s signature dry wit.

black adam hits theaters on October 21, 2022.


Warner Bros.

Listing image by YouTube/DC/Warner Bros.

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Dwayne Johnson’s Egyptian antihero kneels to no one in first Black Adam trailer

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