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Black Adam's Biggest Unanswered Questions

Contains spoilers for "Black Adam."

"Black Adam" is a 2022 superhero –- or rather, super anti-hero -– entry in the fairly nebulous DC Extended Universe continuity. The film stars Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as Teth-Adam, who 5,000 years ago was given immense, god-like powers (such as super strength, flight, and shooting lightning from his hands). His mission: to protect the burgeoning nation of Kahndaq from the evil king Anh-Kot (Marwan Kenzari) by the wizards who would later give Billy Batson similar powers in 2019's "Shazam!" However, Adam's violent and unchecked rage forces the wizards to strip him of his powers and banish him in a magical tomb.

In the present day, Kahndaq (a fictional a stand-in for many Middle Eastern nations with histories of being cannibalized by indifferent Western powers) is currently under the authoritarian rule of high-tech mercenaries called Intergang, who are stripping the country of its resources. Adam is eventually set free in the modern day, and violently murders any Intergang mercenaries who get in his way, earning him a reputation among the citizens of Kahndaq as a liberator.

Unfortunately, the conflicts catch the attention ofAmanda Waller (Viola Davis), who sends the Justice Society of America (or the "JSA") to take him out. The superhero team is led by Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), alongside his old comrade Dr. Fate (Pierce Brosnan) and two newcomers: Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell) and Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo).

By the end of the film, there are still a ton of comic book Easter eggs and dangling plot threads leaving a lot of questions unanswered -– potentially for a sequel, if the movie does well enough.

When will Black Adam finally fight Shazam?

One of the most crazy things about the "Black Adam" film is that the character –- who, while he certainly has his fans, has been at best a C-tier character for most of his run -– is getting his own solo film, despite the fact that he was created specifically as an antagonist and foil to Billy Batson's Shazam (formerly Captain Marvel). Even Venom and Joker got to star alongside Spider-Man and Batman before getting their own solo films.

In fact, Black Adam was supposed to be in the original 2019 "Shazam!" film; however, The Rock later revealed how he felt that script was too crammed, and forced DC and Warner Bros. to make his solo "Black Adam" film first instead (per Variety). But now, with this movie's Superman post-credit tease (and the launch of what could be his own solo film series), when will Black Adam fight his actual arch-nemesis?

It's even crazier, considering there's already going to be a upcoming "Shazam!" sequel –- 2023's "Shazam! Fury of the Gods" –- where the villains are the daughters of Atlas (played by Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu) and not The Rock's Black Adam.

Will Black Adam fight Superman?

What's probably gotten fans buzzing most when walking out of the "Black Adam" film is the post credit scene featuring none other than the Man of Steel himself, Superman, played once again by the DCEU's Henry Cavill. This teaser scene even implies that a showdown may occur between the two super titans, considering Amanda Waller essentially tells Black Adam that while he's allowed to remain free to protect Kahndaq, he will also now be forced to stay there "like a prison," or else there will be consequences. Superman seems to be those aforementioned consequences.

While it seems out-of-character for Superman to be so willing to work for someone like Waller (even though mischaracterizing Superman isn't a new thing for the DCEU), the idea of the two super beings facing off in an epic brawl could potentially be fun (despite the fact that it would make more sense for it to be Shazam/Billy Batson instead).

Obviously Superman would win, and he has in the comics when they've gone up against each other. That is, unless The Rock still has his alleged "can't lose a fight" clause in his contact, like the one from the "Fast and Furious" films (via Vulture). Sure, Superman is indeed vulnerable to magic -– which Black Adam (and Shazam)'s powers are derived from — but it doesn't straight up weaken him like Kryptonite does. It's more that Superman doesn't have any defense against it, meaning magical lightning will hurt him, while regular lightning doesn't.

Who will lead Kahndaq going forward?

One of the best moments towards the end of the "Black Adam" film is when The Rock attempts to recreate the comic panel of Black Adam sitting regally on his Kahndaqi throne. However, when asked how it feels, after a long pause Black Adam says, "Wrong." He then proceeds to shatter the throne to smithereens with his powers, stating that he has no desire to lead Kahndaq, but will simply be a protector instead.

Compared to the weird (sometimes borderline fascistic) reliance on themes of monarchy and bloodlines in even the best comic book films, "Black Adam," surprisingly, takes a more enlightened take, at least in that aspect (despite generally being a less good film overall). However, it does raise the question: who will lead Kahndaq now? It seems that whatever internal government existed in the country beforehand, it wasn't very strong, which is why it was constantly being controlled by outside (often Western-coded) forces like the Intergang group, which is essentially a sci-fi version of Blackwater.

To be fair, the film does seem to imply in the climax that the people of Kahndaq will create some form of democratic representation, as all the citizens rise up to collectively fight together in the end. Nonetheless, nothing explicitly is mentioned in the film about what form the government will take. Furthermore, all the bureaucracy, realpolitik, and internal strife that would inevitably happen with the creation of a new government could be an interesting backdrop for a "Black Adam" sequel, as he determines what his role would be in that situation. There are certainly problems (such as crumbling infrastructure and a broken economy) that Adam can't fix with punching and lightning powers.

What is Hawkman's origin?

Many comic book superheroes have very convoluted — even contradictory — origin stories, particularly those that originated in the early Golden Age era of comic books and lasted into the modern era. (For instance, Superman didn't even originally fly, and Green Lantern's initial weakness was wood!) However, very few heroes have more convoluted and contradicting origins than DC Comics' Hawkman. Debuting in 1940, Hawkman's initial origin was that he was Carter Hall, an archaeologist who turned out to be a resurrected Egyptian prince who used armor and weapons made out of a magical element called "the Nth metal."

Then, when the Silver Age came around (beginning approximately around 1956 after the debut of the Barry Allen version of The Flash, per Comic Vine), most of the Golden Age superheroes were either phased out or given a sci-fi makeover. Hawkman was no exception. He went from having a mystical (and generally insensitive) origin of being a white re-incarnated Egyptian prince, to being an alien space cop.

Having said all that, it's never really clear in the "Black Adam" film what his origin actually is. That's a little strange, considering we at least get tidbits from most of the other JSA members about where their powers came from. To be fair, since his name is Carter Hall, it's unlikely he's the Thanagarian space cop version. But that doesn't mean he couldn't be an amalgam of sorts (for instance, the Golden Age version didn't have a super high-tech jet either), so it's an open-ended question for now. This especially true, considering some versions merge the two Hawkman origins -– with him being both a reincarnated Egyptian prince and finding a crashed Thanagarian space ship where he discovers the Nth metal. Again, even for comics, this stuff is complicated.

Will any Dr. Fate successors show up in the DCEU?

Hopefully you've heeded the warning about spoilers from the intro, because here's a big one: during the climax of the "Black Adam" film, in a desperate battle with the uber-powerful (and terribly CG-rendered) demon Sabbac, Pierce Brosnan's Dr. Fate is violently and unequivocally killed. This happens once it becomes clear to Fate that the JSA is no match for Sabbac, and that his premonitions show his friend Hawkman dying in the onslaught. Thus, Fate uses himself as a distraction to desperately hold off Sabbac while, at the same time, he astral projects to the captive Black Adam to make him say "Shazam!" once more and regain his powers. Fate realizes that Adam is the only one who can defeat the demon.

However, Kent Nelson isn't the only Dr. Fate found in the pages of DC Comics. In fact, there have been many people who took on the "Dr. Fate" moniker throughout the years. This includes the most recent (and current fan-favorite), Khalid Nassour, who actually has an Egyptian background, unlike the other versions. But even before that, there was the "XXXtreme" 90's edgelord version, simply called "Fate," who didn't even wear the helmet. There was also a female Dr. Fate in the late '80s and early '90s.

In other words, Kent Nelson's death doesn't necessarily mean the end of Dr. Fate as a character in the DCEU (if, you know, it exists for much longer anyway). Furthermore, this doesn't discount prequel films with the long-lived Nelson in his previous adventures, only alluded to in "Black Adam" itself.

Where has the Justice Society of America been this whole time?

One of the issues "Black Adam" inadvertently brings up: If the Justice Society of America has been around all along (with Dr. Fate implying that he and Hawkman had been a team for at least a few decades), then why haven't they helped with any of the "end of the world" scenarios that've cropped up throughout the DCEU? Couldn't the JSA have helped with Darkseid's Parademons, or the tyrannical General Zod in Metropolis, or the destructive Doomsday in Gotham? It feels especially weird, considering the Justice League seemed to be a whole new concept without the precedent set by the Justice Society.

This is admittedly a problem in all interconnected superhero universes, and has been a questionable element of the MCU as well. Worse, unlike The Suicide Squad -– another superhuman group in the DCEU -– the JSA are supposed to be out-in-the-open heroes. Not a great look for a supposedly virtuous superhero team, especially considering the pretty inhumane metahuman prison revealed at the end of the second act, where they send the de-powered Black Adam.

How will The Flash – and Flashpoint – potentially affect what Black Adam sets up?

It's been reported that after Ezra Miller's apology for their past abusive behavior, they have been participating in re-shoots for the upcoming "The Flash" film (per The Wrap). The solo Flash film is expected to be a retelling of the "Flashpoint" comic book event from 2011, which was about The Flash using the Speed Force to go back in time to stop his mother's murder and prevent his father from being framed for it. Unfortunately, his time-traveling escapades cause grave consequences for the entire DC multiverse, which includes Aquaman's Atlanteans and Wonder Woman's Amazons going to war. In fact, the "Flashpoint" event was used to create the "New 52" universe –- similar to 1985's "Crisis on Infinite Earths" (though not nearly as successful).

It's clear that things would necessarily be different for a live-action adaptation, but it's also clear from what footage we have seen in the first trailer for "The Flash" that many of the core plot elements will remain intact. Assuming it ever comes out, the movie would also introduce actress Sasha Calle as the DCEU's Supergirl and re-introduce Michael Keaton as Batman/Bruce Wayne.

What does this all have to do with "Black Adam" and its unanswered questions? Well, "Black Adam" has been over a decade in the making, having been in the works during the old Snyderverse regime (per Yahoo! News). But with incoming Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav announcing an intention to revamp the DCEU (and to continue moving forward with "The Flash"), that means anything can happen in the interim. That's especially true considering that "Flashpoint" seems designed specifically to streamline continuity, and there's no guarantee anything in "Black Adam" will remain canon going forward.

Will the JSA get their own film?

In the "Black Adam" solo film, the main attraction is, of course, the titular Black Adam (especially since mega star Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is playing him). Despite that, the heroes of the Justice Society of America –- consisting of Hawkman, Dr. Fate, Cyclone, and Atom Smasher — might've actually stolen the thunder (pardon the pun) from the film's own protagonist. That makes sense in some ways, considering how much more colorful and bombastic they are, in comparison to the relatively stoic Black Adam.

Even better is that the core group dynamics are already so well-defined — their interplay is one of the best things about "Black Adam." It's not necessarily groundbreaking stuff, but you have the go-getter rookie with a chip on his shoulder due to being a legacy hero (Atom Smasher), a scientist hero who has a tragic backstory who's trying to do good despite that fact (Cyclone), and the rich benefactor who's a brave and powerful leader in his own right (Hawkman). Also, if they bring in any of the other Dr. Fate variants, then the filmmakers can also play with that as a dynamic -– either being a group of all green newcomers whipped into shape by the tough-but-fair Hawkman, or Hawkman having to come to terms with accepting a new Fate.

Furthermore, the JSA existed for decades in the comics, and there are many heroes who still haven't gotten the big-budget, big-screen treatment (and still more who haven't even gotten a live-action or animated treatment at all). Who doesn't want to see some Spectre or Alan Scott Green Lantern action?

Will Cyclone and Atom Smasher get together as a couple?

The Justice Society of America (or "JSA") is sent in by Amanda Waller to go to Kahndaq and take Black Adam prisoner, due to his power level supposedly being a threat to international stability. She contacts JSA leader Hawkman first, and he brings in veteran superhero Dr. Fate and two rookies. Cyclone, aka Maxine Hunkel, is a super genius with the power of "aerokinesis" (i.e. she can manipulate wind, hence the name "Cyclone"). Atom Smasher, aka Albert "Al" Rothstein, is the nephew of the original Atom (played in a comedic cameo by Henry Winkler), who has the power to manipulate his atoms and grow exponentially in size and strength.

As the youngest and newest members, Cyclone and Atom Smasher (played by Quintessa Swindell and Noah Centineo, respectively) find an instant connection based on that fact alone. However, as they spend more time together -– both in battle, and in safety on Hawkman's lavish jet -– they seem to be developing more than just a friendly bond. Of course, since the film has to focus more on Black Adam's story than the JSA's, their relationship is left up in the air (or possibly the cutting room floor) by the end of the film.

In the comics, it doesn't seem like a canonical relationship exists between the two heroes, but when has that stopped adaptations before? Most fans likely wouldn't mind — as long as the script makes it organic and meaningful, and not simply perfunctory and cliché, of course.