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How Dwayne Johnson's Black Adam Movie Is Changing The DC Character's New 52 Origin

Dwayne Johnson wearing hood as Black Adam
(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

We’ve been promised for a long time that the hierarchy of the DC universe will change with the introduction of Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam, and today we got our first big tease for this shift in the status quo. The first Black Adam trailer showed Johnson’s title character flying, fighting and staring down the Justice Society, but action and thrills weren’t the only goodies this batch of footage offered. We also learned a little bit about how the man once known as Tete-Adam became one of Earth’s mightiest figures.

Although Black Adam has existed in the comics for almost 80 years, his upcoming DC movie is portraying him as an anti-hero rather than a straightforward supervillain, which has been the character’s norm for a few decades now. Black Adam will also be putting its own spin on the character’s New 52 origin story, but before we get into the key way the DCEU’s Black Adam’s rise to power will differ from that tale, let’s wind the clock back almost to the time when the DC Comics universe was a few years into its rebooted continuity.

New 52's Black Adam confronting Billy Batson in Shazam form

(Image credit: DC Comics)

In the New 52 continuity, Billy Batson, a.k.a. Shazam, met Black Adam shortly after he was chosen by The Wizard to be his new champion at the Rock of Eternity. Black Adam was awoken Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, who knew that Adam had been one of The Wizard’s prior champions thousands of years ago, but disappeared after saving his home nation of Kahndaq from the Seven Deadly Sins. Upon meeting Black Adam, Billy initially believed that his adversary had originally been a young boy named Aman, who used his powers to free people from enslavement. Billy made the mistake of coming to assumptions before hearing the full story.

Readers soon learned that Black Adam had once been Teth-Adam, Aman’s uncle, who was among the people Aman saved upon being chosen as The Wizard’s champion. When Adam was injured during his escape, Aman used his power to heal him. Adam tried to convince his nephew to use his might to exact vengeance on the people who enslaved him, Aman wanted to focus on helping his fellow Kahndaqians and curing the slavemasters of their evil souls. Not content with this course of action, it appeared as though Adam murdered Aman when the boy next called down the magic lightning that transformed him, and Adam obtained the power he desperately craved.

Dwayne Johnson's Teth-Adam holding son's lifeless body in Black Adam movie

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

We’ve known for years that Dwayne Johnson’s Teth-Adam will also be a slave from ancient Kahndaq, and just like in the New 52, a family member of his will be granted incredible power before him. However, in the DCEU, it will be Adam’s son instead of his nephew, and the circumstances behind the transfer of power have changed. In the Black Adam trailer, Johnson’s character recounts how he was a slave until he died, but then he was reborn a god. This was done thanks to the sacrifice of Adam’s son.

It stands to reason we won’t learn the full context of what transpired with Adam and his son until the movie actually opens. Still, working off the limited information available, it can be inferred that the son obtained incredible powers, but then used them to revive Adam, which killed him in the process. It also looks like Adam was murdered by a slavemaster, so upon becoming a god, you can count on him getting revenge on that person for not just killing him, but also indirectly causing the death of his son.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wonder if Black Adam’s DCEU origin story is also going in a dark direction similar to the New 52. After all, just because Black Adam is giving an account of how he became the man he is today doesn’t mean this is actually what happened. What if, just like what happened between Adam and Aman in the comics, Johnson’s Adam actually murdered his son after not approving of the way he was using his power? It’s an interesting prospect, and certainly one hell of a twist to throw out at audiences. The only potential problem is that even though Johnson is playing an antihero who won’t hesitate to kill to achieve his goals, murdering his son might be going a step too far. If all goes according to plan, Black Adam will be sticking around the DCEU for a while, so he still needs to be sympathetic to some degree, and members of the general public might not jive with a guy willing to kill his own son, even if he dedicates his life to lethal justice afterwards.

I’m also curious to see how Black Adam origin’s manages to line up with what little we learned about the character in 2019’s Shazam!, or if there’s some retconning coming up. When Asher Angel’s Billy Batson was brought to the Rock of Eternity, he learned how Black Adam had been the champion of Djimon Hounsou’s Wizard millennia ago; Adam wasn’t outright named in the movie, but it was obviously him. Unfortunately, Adam then unleashed the Seven Deadly Sins onto the world as part of his revenge quest. Millions of lives were lost and entire civilizations were erased from existence, and in addition to this likely being the reason Adam was imprisoned for 5,000 years, the Wizard vowed from then on that he would never pass on his magic until he found one truly good person.

So what exactly happened here? Did the Wizard originally pick Adam’s son to be his champion, and then once he died, he was cool with Adam inheriting the mantle? Or did the Wizard try to take back that power from Adam, and that led to the Seven Deadly Sins wreaking havoc?  Weirdly enough, there hasn’t been any mention of Djimon Hounsou reprising the Wizard in Black Adam, but since the actor is returning to the role in Shazam! Fury of the Gods, it’s difficult to imagine he wasn’t brought back for this movie too. Even though we don’t know yet when Johnson’s Black Adam and Zachary Levi’s Shazam will collide, these two go back decades, so it’s worth clarifying to people unfamiliar with comics that they’re connected, as well as setting the record straight on just how Adam’s fall from grace happened.

Black Adam opens in theaters on October 21, and as soon as another trailer or any fascinating details about this movie trickle in, CinemaBlend will pass them along. Until then, feel free to read up on Black Adam over at DC Universe Infinite.

Adam Holmes
Adam Holmes

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.