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Here's Why One Special Effects Rig Was Created Specifically For Black Adam

2022 saw Dwayne Johnson's Black Adam finally make his long-awaited silver screen debut, but it seems that the movie may not have changed the hierarchy of power in the DC Universe as much as some hoped. The "Black Adam" reviews indicate that the Rock's DC debut isn't exactly super, and particular criticism has been leveled at the shaky plot, the weightless action sequences, and the various tones the movie attempts to balance to little success.

Still, it wouldn't be a mainstream superhero movie without some ridiculously expensive and admittedly impressive special effects to help bring the comic book fantasy to life. Built on an eye-watering budget of $195 million (via Variety), "Black Adam" does manage some visually stunning sequences, particularly when the lead anti-hero gets to flex his superpowered muscles. In fact, so much work went into the movie's special effects that a new state-of-the-art rig was created specifically for the production. As it happens, this particular invention served an intriguing role in realizing Black Adam's powers on-screen.

Black Adam's flight rig is unlike any other

As fans of Black Adam know, one of the many tools in the DC character's arsenal is his ability to fly. Well, flying is exactly what he does in "Black Adam" — plenty of times, in fact. However, viewers might notice that the movie's flight scenes look rather different compared to similar sequences in other superhero flicks. Perhaps a tad more realistic-looking, even? Well, that's no coincidence.

Rather than the usual setup of cables, wires, and netting, "Black Adam" achieved its flight scenes through the construction of a new special effects rig. In a cast interview with Entertainment Weekly, Johnson said that "Black Adam" director Jaume Collet-Serra was determined to eliminate the limitations of traditional flight stunts. His desire resulted in the creation of a specialized mechanical arm that could hold Johnson while filming. "I never got on any wires," the actor said. "I was on this really cool advanced machine that allowed me to lay flat. I think fans will really appreciate the detail and nuance of how Black Adam is able to fly with real rage and power and force."

In a 2021 Collider interview, "Black Adam" producer Hiram Garcia teased the movie's mind-blowing VFX technology and noted its importance in realizing Black Adam's powers on-screen. "The technology we're using to make Black Adam fly has never been done before," he said. "It's completely unique. It was critical for us to ensure that it felt special, authentic, and real."

The movie spared no expense

While particular attention has been brought to the cutting-edge rig Dwayne Johnson used for his "Black Adam" flight scenes, it's not the only advanced piece of tech that was used during production. In the Entertainment Weekly interview of the cast of "Black Adam," film star Quintessa Swindell said that they were afforded a similar rig that allowed them full 360 degree movement while suspended in mid-air. "It felt kind of like a simulator, in a way," the actor said.

The camera equipment for "Black Adam" was a technical marvel, too. In 2021, Johnson posted a behind-the-scenes snapshot on the "Black Adam" set depicting himself next to a large camera apparatus. "This advanced robot arm called a BOLT is the fastest in the world with a high speed PHANTOM camera that shoots me at an insane 960 frames per second," he wrote. Compared to the average 24 FPS for most movies, this device operates at 40 times the usual capture rate. Suffice to say, it's not a cheap set-up.

Even more impressive tech was employed in the movie's sets. Cast member Noah Centineo told Entertainment Weekly that the crew also built a massive curved LED screen around the Hawk Cruiser set. This construction completely obscured the view of the stage from inside the cruiser, instead depicting a realistic sky and landscape. "It's not like they CGI'd it," Centineo said. "They built it. With 'Black Adam,' our set pieces were huge. They were bigger than the Rock."