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The Connection Between Black Adam And Shazam Explained

Comic book heroes and villains continue to dominate pop culture. Their expanding imprint can be seen in just about every medium. Dominance at the box office — which was built over decades — comes at a time when theaters themselves need saving. DC Studios wants to be a part of that narrative, even changing its entire cinematic strategy. The 2022 offering, "Black Adam," proved to be a turning point for the DC and Warner Bros. pairing.

The first appearance of Black Adam held hopes of an entire franchise and an altered DCEU for fans. Star Dwayne Johnson touted it as a major event; the actor took to Instagram before filming to proclaim the hierarchy of power was about to change. Whether that came to be is subject to argument, but its box office into early 2023 was somewhere around $400 million (via Collider).

Something that isn't up for debate is the public's interest in how the character fits into the history of DC. When rumors of a nixed Shazam and Black Adam film came to light, Johnson was quick to explain his intention of having the characters' first appearances in separate origin stories. "We would be doing Black Adam an incredible disservice.' It would've been fine for Shazam having two origin stories converge in one movie, but not good for Black Adam," he told Variety. So, what is the real connection between Black Adam and Shazam? It's a complicated story that could only come from the world of comics.

Their powers come from the same source

While they may seem very different, Shazam and Black Adam can cite the same source for their powers. It all starts with the story of Black Adam; the Ancient Egyptian man saw unspeakable cruelty as a slave. Known at the time as Teth-Adam, he would go on to find the Rock of Eternity along with his nephew Aman. The Wizard bestowed on Aman the titles of his champion and the special abilities that went along with it. 

Aman's ideals made him a perfect choice for the Wizard, also referred to as Shazam, but Teth-Adam wanted revenge. What unfolded was Aman's murder at the hands of his uncle and Adam assuming all powers; Adam's violent quest ultimately led back to the Council of Eternity. A battle ensued that saw only The Wizard survive, his next act banishing the man now called Black Adam from causing chaos (via DC).

Thousands of years later The Wizard would find another hero in the unlikeliest of places. Billy Batson's childhood in foster care was fraught with problems. In the modern era, Batson's life was directly influenced by Adam's murderous ways. It all led The Wizard to once again bestow his powers in hopes of creating a true champion. The event also sees the return of Black Adam and Batson's growing search to find his missing sister. Keep in mind this is only in the modern comics canon, the films and subsequent comics alter events for storytelling purposes (via DC).

The connection somewhat changes on Prime Earth

Prime Earth — or the timeline created after Flashpoint — offers a somewhat different origin story for Billy Batson. Instead of roaming the streets as a beleaguered kid, his life is shaped by adoption; he also gains a group of siblings brought together by supportive parents.

Billy would find his way to The Wizard, who took some convincing as to whether an imperfect kid could become a champion. It would lead to the same results as Billy would take on the persona of Shazam and all that encompasses. The fateful moment meant Black Adam also got a second chance at life. His motivations were similar, with Adam discovering The Wizard no longer thought of him as a champion. Prime Earth is much closer in tone and story to the films "Shazam" and "Black Adam" and Batson's family reflects the cinematic journey his character has experienced thus far.

The future of their on-screen connections is in jeopardy

At one point, it seemed like Black Adam and Shazam (Zachary Levi) were on course for a cinematic showdown. "Black Adam" may or may not see a sequel in the future. Since the film's debut, DC and Warner Bros. have taken the entire cinematic universe in a different direction with James Gunn at the helm. Dwayne Johnson has gone on record to say it is not a part of the new plan for DC's first phase. "However, DC and Seven Bucks have agreed to continue exploring the most valuable ways Black Adam can be utilized in future DC multiverse chapters," the actor posted (via Deadline).

Meanwhile, Shazam is carrying on the legendary powers with "Shazam! Fury of the Gods." The film sees Billy and his adopted siblings transforming into adult superheroes. Their battle involves the Daughters of Atlas' intent to destroy everything for selfish purposes. There's no word as of January 2023 as to whether Shazam's cinematic journey extends past this, nor a Black Adam appearance at any point. For now, their connections will be best experienced in decades of DC comics.