For even longer than Shazam has officially been slated for the DC Extended Universe, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has been attached to play one of the eponymous hero's greatest enemies: Black Adam. However, due to The Rock now being one of the most popular movie stars in the world, Black Adam's importance in the DCEU has been increased. In addition to eventually appearing in a Shazam movie (though not necessarily the first one), DC announced that Black Adam will also star in his own movie. Even weirder, there's chatter that he might appear in Aquaman as well. DC has no trouble with giving villains the cinematic spotlight, as evidenced by Suicide Squad and the in-development Gotham City Sirens, but the news of Black Adam's upgraded status came as a surprise, though certainly not an unwarranted one, given the character's complexities and Johnson's fame.
Even though there's still a long wait ahead for Shazam and the Black Adam movie, we've put together a comprehensive list of everything you need to know about the anti-hero before he appears on the big screen, from what his powers are to where he's appeared outside of the comics. Let's start with information about his past.
Where He Came From
There are two individuals associated with Black Adam: Teth-Adam, his original form, and Theo Adam, his descendant. Let's start with Teth-Adam first. Although Teth-Adam originally hailed from ancient Egypt in the DC continuity, in the modern era, his home country has been switched to the fictional country Kahndaq. Due to DC continuity continually shifting around and relaunching, Black Adam's history has gone through a number of changes, so we'll only be covering the most important points.
The 1994 comic book series The Power of Shazam! showed Teth-Adam as being the son of the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II, and after impressing the wizard Shazam, he was granted the ability to become the superhuman Mighty Adam upon saying the wizard's name. For centuries, Mighty Adam used his amazing abilities (which we'll discuss in the next section) to protect Egypt from its enemies, but he was later corrupted by a woman revealed to be Blaze, Shazam's daughter, and went rogue, becoming Black Adam. After learning of Adam's turn to the dark side, the wizard stripped him of his powers, which caused Teth Adam's age to rapidly catch up with him, and eventually he became a dried corpse.
Fast forward thousands of years, and that brings us to Theo Adam, who accompanied Billy Batson's parents on an expedition as their aide. After discovering Black Adam's tomb and the scarab where the wizard Shazam kept Black Adam's powers, Theo killed the Batsons and claimed these powers for himself. Only when he transformed into Black Adam did Theo realize Teth-Adam was his ancestor. By the time Theo returned to the United States, Billy Batson had already been selected by the wizard Shazam to become Captain Marvel. So when Theo noticed Marvel's resemblance to C.C. Batson, Billy's father, he immediately realized this was the empowered son of the couple he murdered. They battled, but Captain Marvel defeated Black Adam in the end.
While it originally seemed as if Theo Adam and Black Adam were one and the same, this was later changed to them being separate beings entirely when Black Adam returned to Earth and claimed to be free of Theo's influence. This was proven when Black Adam's fingerprints were shown not to match Theo's, meaning he was not the one who killed Billy Batson's parents. From that point forward, whenever Black Adam said the word "Shazam," he would transform back into Teth-Adam, the original product. Starting with Geoff Johns and David Goyer's run on the JSA book, Black Adam was changed from an Egyptian to a Kahndaqian.
As of the New 52, Theo Adam no longer plays any role in the Shazam mythology. In this continuity, Adam was a Kahndaqian slave who escaped captivity with his nephew, Aman. Adam was mortally injured during the escape, but before he and Aman were taken again, they were rescued by the wizard and magical ruling council, who picked Aman to be their champion. Upon returning to Kahndaq and healing his uncle, Aman wanted to use his powers to free his people and cure their former slavemasters, Adam only wanted to exact vengeance for years of brutal treatment. So when Aman next said "Shazam," Adam also said the word, killed his nephew and let the magic lightning strike him, thus receiving the full powers of Black Adam. He soon eliminated all of Kahndaq's warlords and ruled over the country in a way he perceived to be fair, but after the magical council learned that Aman was dead, they fought Black Adam and locked him away. In the present era, Doctor Sivana accidentally freed Black Adam from his imprisonment, leaving the latter to continue his crusade of "justice."