One day the universe will collapse, but rest assured: that day is still billions of years away. The DC Extended Universe, on the other hand, seems to us already in its death throes.
‘Wonder Woman 1984’ walked on crutches, ‘The Suicide Squad’ was a commercial flop, Adil & Bilallis ‘Batgirl’ was coolly relegated to the forgotten pit, and now lead actor Ezra Miller no longer seems to have them all in one place, it is highly uncertain whether ‘The Flash’ will ever be released again. And ‘Black Adam’, the umpteenth attempt by DC to keep up with the as yet smoothly running Marvel Cinematic Universe, is a super debacle in all respects in our opinion.
The film opens with one of those typical headache-inducing mythological introductions that not even Peter Parker could manage: a voice tells us about the city of Kahndaq, about the Crown of Sabbaq that harbors the power of six demons, about one Akh-Ton , about the Council of Wizards, about a Hero who will one day rise and free the people from their chains, and about the magical ore that can only be mined in Kahndaq: Eternium, that’s the name of that blue glowing stuff (in superhero movies, magical minerals light up usually blue on). Six minutes away, and we already wanted to exchange that Akh-Ton for a Beer-Ton, but oh well.
In present-day Kahndaq, three figures have been searching for some time for the above-mentioned Crown of Sabbaq, which according to legend has been buried somewhere in the interior of a mountain for 5000 years. Why those figures are looking for the Crown of Sabbaq? In an unintentionally hilarious scene, one of them, a tough lady, provides the answer to that question herself: ‘To be able to bury the Crown somewhere else’. Excuse me? As if she herself realizes that the answer sounds somewhat absurd, the lady gives some extra text and explanation three scenes later: ‘No one may use the Crown! If we ever find him, we’ll dig him up and bury him again!’ Twelve minutes away, and the ‘Duh!’ quality of ‘Black Adam’ had already reached unseen heights.
The demigod who then rises from the mountain, called Teth-Adam – a name which, like the pectorals of Dwayne Johnson begging for a brassiere – we thought it was a boring piece of shit: it’s just a superhero who, like hundreds of other superheroes, soars aloft, shoots lightning, bounces bullets, and plucks surface-to-air missiles from the sky as if they were maple seeds. yawn. We’re also sorry to report that Johnson is slightly disappointed in the role he’s been hoping to play since 2008: it’s laughable when Dwayne pulverizes an opponent during the first action sequence and makes the remaining spine snap like a twig, but in the In most other scenes, Johnson seems hopelessly torn between bone-dry seriousness and self-relativistic fancy. The villain on duty, on the other hand, is a particularly dull horned brush that deserves to be sent to oblivion by Thanos at the flick of a finger.
It’s common knowledge that superhero movies usually have little to offer in narrative terms, but ‘Black Adam’ must be a low point: for two hours you sit watching masked figures who cleave through the sky and who, now above a city and then again above a mountain, firing all kinds of bolts and beams at each other in an accumulation of weak CGI. Come back, Zack Snyderall is forgiven and forgotten!
A kind of creative desperation even winds through the images; and concretely we are talking about the desperation-smelling way in which DC tries to imitate the MCU in ‘Black Adam’. As if the makers also sensed that Johnson would not be able to carry the film on his own, after 20 minutes they put on a team of four other superheroes: the Justice Society. Hawkman is Iron Man with real wings instead of a suit, Atom can make himself as colossal as Ant-Man, Cyclone could be the niece of Storm from the ‘X-Men’ franchise, and with Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan!) they stage a wizard who can peek into the future. Rings a bell, doesn’t it? Now those in the know will rightly argue that Doctor Fate entered the comic book world much earlier than Dr. Strange, and that Dr. Strange is actually a decoction of Doctor Fate, but that doesn’t really matter here: the oversupply of providential doctor-wizards in the superhero genre continues to point to a lack of ideas.
Question: Could the DC Extended Universe, and by extension the entire superhero genre, be in a creative stalemate? Or will ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’, out on November 9, restore our faith in the genre?
‘Black Adam’ is now in theaters.