Black Adam (2023)

Comically Failed

I am not a comics fan, so I tend to come to comic-originated movies the same way I do any other movie. When they fail — as they usually do — I just consider the cinematic values, and don’t dig into flaws inherited from the source material.

But holy cow, every big movie these days is derived from some comic (or game, or both) fan base. I’m told the Black Adam fan base is large because he subverts the model (like Darth Vader and Silver Surfer from two other franchises).

The thing that makes these movies work for me is the world building. Can they define and exploit a novel cosmology? The fights and stuff are secondary and almost just filler.

The Iron Man series worked. The Spiderverse as well. Black Panther was cloying with too much posing, but great, successful world building. You need that and all the cinematic values that support it. Without it you have nothing.

In this movie, they have nothing. Some mishmash of wizardry, deMille slavery, some crazy hokey heroes. Multiple, competing white saviour threads for a Middle East country. An artificially inserted scrappy boy hero theme.

I think in the right hands, this could have found a Titanic-sized niche in our national souls, more rooted in magic and less in destiny, more rooted in the real disaster of the Arab/muslim world, and more nuanced on matters of just violence.

What surprises me is that this director and star/producer got the formula right with the Jungle Cruise movie. Simpler world, more humour, no cosmic message.

Posted in 2023

Ted’s Evaluation — 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.


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