Warning: SPOILERS for Black Adam are present in this discussion. Consider this a friendly warning if you’re concerned with avoiding spoilers.
We’re still in the thick of Black Adam mania here, folks. Dwayne Johnson’s big new movie release is plugging away as the latest offering from the DC universe of cinema, and there’s certainly a lot to talk about. I’m not just talking about Henry Cavill’s big return as Superman either, as there are quite a few moments that seem to have stuck out in director Jaume Collet-Serra’s anti-hero epic.
Strangely enough, one such aspect that stuck out for me was a moment that saw one particular plot point borrowing from the MCU playbook, and it’s absolutely not a problem. In fact, the way that Black Adam uses a sticking point from the Avengers movies stood out as a highlight in the entire movie. Those trying to avoid spoilers should turn away, as I’m going to spill some secrets about a specific scene and why it works so well.
The MCU Moment Black Adam Stole For Its Third Act
Throughout Black Adam’s scenes dealing with the Justice Society of America, we get the impression that Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan) isn’t exactly telling the whole truth about his apocalyptic visions of the future. Having hinted that Hawkman (Aldis Hodge) will have to die in order for the battle against the evil Sabbac (Marwan Kenzari) to be won, Brosnan’s Kent Nelson assures Carter Hall that when the time is right, he’ll know it’s their big goodbye.
You’re probably thinking that sounds familiar, right? Well, I wouldn’t blame you, as this is almost exactly the same playbook that Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) follow throughout Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. With the MCU’s own magical doctor scanning the continuum of outcomes against Thanos (Josh Brolin), Stephen Strange warns Tony Stark that there’s only one outcome that assures victory.
Cryptically telling Tony that he’ll know what that moment is when it happens, it’s almost exactly like the path we see taking hold in Black Adam. Except there are some crucial differences that see Doctor Fate differing drastically from Doctor Strange. Most importantly, it’s Doctor Fate who ends up taking the fall in the end.
How Doctor Fate’s Demise Spins Doctor Strange’s Prediction In Avengers: Infinity War
Rather than have Hawkman sacrificing himself in Black Adam, Doctor Fate conceals the fact that there’s another option in play. Hiding the knowledge that there’s another option is just as potent as hiding who exactly is going to die. Kent Nelson’s actions track with Stephen Strange's in the respect that if he shares the future in bold print, it will inspire our hero to try to alter the outcome.
That’s where the similarities end though. In the two-part Avengers epic, Tony Stark being kept in the dark so that his tendency to try and think his way out of any scenario is kept at bay. It’s basically a fail safe against the egoism he still holds within, even if he’s a wiser, more family-driven person at this point in his life. Not to mention, this may not have even been necessary had we not been party to one of Doctor Strange’s worst MCU decisions. You know, the one where Strange just gave up the Time Stone to Thanos!
Hawkman isn’t the same sort of thinker when it comes to Black Adam’s big events, as Carter Hall is ready to lay down his life for his team. Kent Nelson knows this, and so by hiding the truth from the Justice Society of America's leader, he’s allowed to control the plan. Doctor Fate dies so that the friend he trusts can lead his team more effectively, which is part of what makes this decision a story beat I’m ok with. Also, he didn’t self-sabotage the plan in the process, and that’s always a good thing to see in a hero’s decision-making process.
Why I’m Ok With Black Adam Remixing This MCU Heartbreak
Shielding his team, and making the final sacrifice to aid in Black Adam defeating Sabbac, Doctor Fate’s actions look relatively more heroic. Not that Doctor Strange wasn’t doing what had to be done himself in Avengers: Infinity War, but he basically admitted in that cryptic moment with Iron Man that he was going to die. That sort of thinking convinced me that Black Adam was going to pull a similar move for some time, up until Kent Nelson finally gave up his helmet in service of the world.
Remixing the idea of a soothsaying hero calling the big shot to save the day is one of the parts about Black Adam that actually worked for me. Though I’d only seen the Justice Society of America on screen for a few moments, Doctor Fate’s actions hammered home the camaraderie of the team to a tee. Then again, it also helps that Pierce Brosnan’s natural charisma helped everything gel in the way that it did.
I know not everyone’s going to agree with me that cribbing an emotional beat straight from an MCU movie is a good thing, and I’m even surprised I’m saying it myself. However, with the tweaks presented and the moral/ethical questions it raised, Black Adam’s huge emotional twist used shorthand thinking to its advantage. Setting and dashing expectations in one fell swoop, it’s made me want to see the Justice Society of America in action again.
Those of you who need to think on this matter a little more, or have read through these Black Adam spoilers without having seen the film, are in luck. Dwayne Johnson’s hierarchy-altering DC Comics movie is still running in theaters and is expected to have a healthy second weekend out.
Or, if you’re looking for more DC Universe thrills in the world of streaming, you’ll want to make sure you still have an active HBO Max subscription. Everything from animation to live-action films and series, and eventually Black Adam itself, will be kept here for your viewing pleasure.
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CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.