Is Black Adam a Villain? The Answer Is Complicated

Nearly 80 years after making his first comic-book appearance, Black Adam will finally hit the big screen on Oct. 21. He’ll be played by none other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who had been rumored to play the character for years before his casting was finally announced in 2014. Black Adam was originally set to make his cinematic debut in the 2019 “Shazam!” movie; however, in January 2017, DC revealed he would be getting a solo film instead, and the news only made fans even more excited to see the character’s long-awaited introduction to the DC cinematic universe.

We’ve already gotten a glimpse at the “Black Adam” film through several trailers and teaser videos. In the second trailer, which arrived on Sept. 8, we see that a superhero team known as the Justice Society of America will go up against Black Adam in the movie. If you’re unfamiliar with Black Adam’s origins in the comic books, you might be wondering whether he’s really a villain. Well, the answer is pretty complicated, and let us explain why.

Who Is Black Adam?

In the comic books, Black Adam is an ancient Egyptian named Teth-Adam who’s given magical powers by a wizard named Shazam in hopes that Black Adam would use his powers to fight against evil. Instead, Black Adam gets consumed by his powers and ends up killing Shazam. Due to his betrayal, Black Adam is banished to a distant star and spends the next 5000 years traveling back to Earth. Once he returns, he realizes Shazam has chosen new successors, including Billy Batson (as seen in “Shazam!”), who becomes his recurring enemy.

However, the “Black Adam” trailer teases a different origin story for the character. In the movie version, Black Adam is born a slave and executed, but he’s brought back to life due to his son sacrificing his own life for his father’s. Black Adam returns with special abilities, which he calls a “curse.” So, unlike the comic books where Black Adam revels in his newfound powers, in the movie, he seems to have complicated feelings toward his abilities.

What Are Black Adam’s Powers?

Teth-Adam must say the word “Shazam” to change into Black Adam and use the power of the six Egyptian gods. Shu gives him stamina, Heru gives him swiftness, Amon gives him strength, Zehuti gives him wisdom, Aton gives him power, and Mehen gives him courage. In case you didn’t notice, the names of the gods spell out Shazam.

Is Black Adam a Villain?

While Black Adam has been both a villain and a hero in DC comics, the movie seems to be reimagining him as more of an antihero. In the trailers, Hawkman, a hero who’s part of the Justice Society of America, tells Black Adam, “In this world, there are heroes, and there are villains. Heroes don’t kill people.” Black Adam then responds by saying, “Well, I do.” While it’s easy to label him a villain, Johnson has referred to the character as an antihero on social media.

The YouTube description for the second “Black Adam” trailer also features the tagline: “There are heroes, there are villains, and there is Black Adam,” hinting he’s somewhere in the middle of a hero and villain like an antihero – a protagonist who doesn’t show very heroic qualities. This could tease Black Adam may make some questionable decisions in the film. While it’s totally possible DC could officially turn Black Adam into a villain by the end of the movie, for now, it seems he’s just an antihero.