The hierarchy of power in the DC Universe may be about to change with “Black Adam,” but the new film is landing low on the hierarchy of critical reputation for Warner Bros.’s last decade of superhero entries.
The reviews for the Dwayne Johnson movie “Black Adam” started coming out this afternoon, and top critics on the website Rotten Tomatoes have given it a 32% rating so far. It is at 54% among the website’s wider group of approved critics. If the top critic’s number stays the same, it would be the lowest for a DC movie since 2017’s “Justice League,” which got a 23% approval rating from top critics and was so hated by fans that Warner Bros. ordered a reworked version, “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” which will come out in 2021.
In a review that was mostly positive, Variety’s chief film critic Peter Debruge said, “The whole point of the movie is to give Black Adam a suitably grand introduction in the hopes that he’ll soon face a more worthy opponent.”
Most people haven’t liked the origin story as much as I have, but many have praised Johnson’s performance as a key strength. The star’s first superhero movie is “Black Adam.” His chiseled body and box office dominance make it seem like he was destined for this role.
Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian said that Johnson is a great superhero because of his “massive bulk, planet-sized head, and sly talent for deadpan humor.”
In an article for The Hollywood Reporter, critic John Defore talked about how attached the actor has been to “Black Adam” for a long time. He said that “his passion project serves the character well, setting him up for adventures one hopes will be less predictable than this one.”
Joshua Yehl gave Johnson “top marks” in his IGN review for making Black Adam “just as steely and intimidating as in the comics.” But he said that the movie was “full of undeveloped characters and too many repetitive action scenes, so much so that its half-baked debate about what it means to be a hero is lost in all the noise.”
David Fear, the senior editor of Rolling Stone and a film critic, said, “Not even the pleasure of seeing Johnson fit into a blockbuster template that he seemed destined to dominate can make up for how bland and confusing this is.”
Alonso Duralde of The Wrap called the movie “anti-entertaining” and called it “one of the most visually confusing of the major-studio superhero sagas” because of its “aggressively unappealing” computer graphics and “rapid-fire editing” that takes the excitement out of every fight scene.
David Ehrlich, a critic for Indiewire, didn’t like the movie. He started his review by asking, “What happens when Hollywood’s least risk-taking movie star meets Hollywood’s least risk-taking movie genre?” His reply? “Just what you would expect. Just bad.”
REVIEW: No, Dwayne Johnson's #BlackAdam will not change the power hierarchy of the DCEU. It will make you believe, however, that even with a bona fide movie star on deck, this extended cinematic universe is truly a lost cause. https://t.co/sBDwMaW3N1
— Rolling Stone (@RollingStone) October 18, 2022
ScreenCrush critic Matt Singer called the movie “pretty average,” saying that it “plays like a committee-made product designed to zhoosh up the stagnant DC Extended Universe with a huge star and a bunch of new heroes to spin off into future movies.” After two hours of boring set-up, you have a clear idea of where DC’s movies are going, but you’re not very interested in seeing them.
Johnson has hinted that his antihero, “Black Adam,” will be in bigger fights in the future while promoting “Black Adam.” Online talk has also been sparked by leaked videos of the scene at the end of the movie, which shows who Black Adam might fight in the future.
Johnson has said that, in addition to his main role, he would like to be a “consultant” for DC Films. Warner Bros. Discovery’s new CEO, David Zaslav, has made the upcoming slate of DC films a matter of careful strategy. Zaslav has said that the company is looking for a leader like Marvel Studios’ head Kevin Feige to guide the studio’s comic book content for the next ten years.
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Jessa Martin is the author of Nogmagazine, A professional in writing by day, and novelist by night, she received her bachelor of arts in film from Howard University and her master of arts in media studies from the New School. A Brooklyn native, she is a lover of naps, cookie dough, and beaches, currently residing in the borough she loves, most likely multitasking.