Why is Black Adam such a unique anti-hero in the DC Universe?

Black Adam will finally be entitled to his own film adaptation. The opportunity to return to the uniqueness of one of the oldest characters in the universe, but above all to understand his ambivalence as an anti-hero.

77 years after its first appearance in the comics, Black Adam will make its cinema debut in the eponymous film worn by Dwayne Johnson on October 19, 2022. Created by Otto Binder and CC Beck, the character made his first foray into Fawcett comics with The Marvel Family #1 in 1945, facing his nemesis Shazam (who is also the one who gave him his powers). Originally thought of as a “one-shot” villain, black adam was resurrected in 1987 by the DC Universe, before being reworked in 1994 in The Power of Shazam!by Jerry Ordway.

He then became a prominent character for DC. In the stories dedicated to him, Teth-Adam – his real name – shares adventures with many superheroes, either teaming up with them or battling them. This duality has also founded the uniqueness of the hero and his depth. Few DC protagonists indeed possess such depth. It is above all the reflection of a disoriented moral sense and a violence exacerbated over the centuries. These are all elements that make Black Adam a unique anti-hero in the DC comics landscape.

A character like no other

The originality of Black Adam is mainly based on his characterization. His duality is integral to his origin and story through the comics. His ambivalence has crossed the different ages of comics while being the trigger for his adventures. One thinks, for example, of the attack on Kahndaq and the dictatorship he later imposed. Moreover, where the classic anti-heroes manage at times to arouse a certain compassion in the reader, the latter finds himself in a delicate position when it comes to Black Adam.

Black Adam shares many similarities with supervillains. ©DC Comics

The violence with which the character is imbued makes him a very convincing supervillain. We saw it in the maxi-series 52 (2006-2007) or in The Dark Age. In addition, Black Adam is considered one of the most popular villains in the ranking established by IGN (he arrives at the 16e place), acting according to a brutal justice which rests on the only principle of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”.

All tenderness is discarded, Black Adam returning an altered image of humanity. For example, he succumbed to the power of his powers and does not hesitate to fight against Billy Batson, the successor of Shazam, in order to prove that he is better than the superhero. Pride, envy, anger… Black Adam seems to catalyze several deadly sins.

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Black Adam facing Captain Marvel in the DC comics. ©DC Comics

These arguments take a large place in the apprehension of the character, perceived as a real enemy. However, in some comics, Black Adam uses his powers to help the Justice Society of America. He also joins the Black Marvel Family, an important event in his career, the superhero having lost several relatives in the past. He is also capable of love, as evidenced by his romance with Isis.

Originally envisioned as the antagonist of Captain Marvel, Black Adam has evolved over the years, with its creators fleshing out this low-profile supervillain into one of the most interesting anti-heroes in the DC Universe. . He ends up establishing himself as one of the most powerful protectors in the universe.

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Black Adam and Isis live a romance in the comics.©DC Comics

Certainly less fun than Harley Quinn, another DC anti-heroine, or less endearing than Loki at Marvel, Black Adam still arouses a certain passion in the reader. Ruthless with his enemies, he establishes his own vision of justice, a character trait that brings him closer to The Punisher (Marvel).

A universe more complex than it seems

If morality and justice are themes intrinsic to the universe of superheroes, with Black Adam, DC comics presented a new vision of these principles. Unlike classic villains, who have no morals, Black Adam’s duality and his relationship to uncompromising justice make him a very unique character. This point of view makes it a more delicate protagonist than it seems and by extension questions comic book readers.

The issues dedicated to the character also evoked the issue of religion. The opposition between humanity and divinity has often dominated comics black adam. Once again, the relationship is reversed, because where some superheroes, like Superman, preferred to sacrifice their powers for the benefit of a normal life, the antihero, meanwhile, is ready to fully embrace them.

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Black Adam and the JSA in the comics. ©DC Comics

Moreover, the complexity of its history could explain why one of the oldest heroes of the DC stable has been slow to benefit from its own cinematic adaptation, and its connection with ancient Egypt, its mythology as well as the witchcraft make him a particularly difficult character to define, and a fortiori to adapt on the big screen. Apart from Hawkman, who will be found alongside him in the film worn by Dwayne Johnson, Black Adam is the only superhero to share this link with the era of the pharaohs in DC comics.

Between a characterization fleshed out over the years, superheroic concepts shaken up and an abundant universe, Black Adam represents a unique anti-hero in the DC universe. So let’s hope that the director, Jaume Collet-Serra, Warner Bros., but also Dwayne Johnson have been able to keep the very particular essence of the character in order to remain faithful to his complexity, his story and his world. Verdict on October 19 in French cinemas.

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Why is Black Adam such a unique anti-hero in the DC Universe?

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