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How Black Adam Got His Powers Is Much Darker In The Comics Than The Film

In 2022's "Black Adam," audiences are given insight into how the titular DC Comics staple — portrayed by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson — came to exist in the DCEU. Thousands of years prior to the events of the film, Teth-Adam's son, Hurut (Jalon Christian), is imbued with incredible abilities that allow him to become Khandaq's champion. However, the evil King Ahk-Ton (Marwan Kenzari) knows his only weakness is his family, so he sends assassins to kill them. To save his father's life, Hurut gives him his powers, and with that, Black Adam is born.

While this origin is tragic on its own, Black Adam's origin on the pages of DC Comics, specifically the New 52 reboot continuity, is a bit darker. A young boy named Aman is gifted powers by the Wizard after escaping enslavement with his uncle. During their escape, the uncle is injured, so Aman gives him some of his power to keep him alive. Issues arise when Aman wants to use his abilities for good, while his uncle seeks revenge on those who'd treated them so cruelly. This eventually leads to the uncle seemingly killing Aman to become, you guessed it, Black Adam (via "Justice League" Vol. 2 #19 and #20).

It wasn't necessarily a requirement that the "Black Adam" movie used the New 52 origin of the title character, but the fact that it somewhat did yet opted for a more sympathetic, sanitized series of events speaks to the film's biggest issue.

It's as if Black Adam wants to be about a different character

When people think of the Black Adam character — assuming they've heard of him — odds are they recognize him as an enemy of Billy Batson, aka Shazam. His antihero tendencies are present in his DC Comics run, and there's always a sympathetic edge present when taking into account his origin as an Egyptian slave, but they're not his defining features. This is where the film goes wrong: it attempts to clean up Black Adam's image too much to take him from a comic book villain and tyrant to a cool, make-something-explode-and-walk-away-from-it type of hero. It's as if the folks behind the film wanted Black Adam, just without his villain baggage.

Of course, in the time since "Black Adam" premiered, it has become abundantly clear why Warner Bros. went this route with "Black Adam." Instead of just filling the antagonist spot of a Shazam story like the original plan (via Variety) called for, the minds behind the feature wanted to thrust Black Adam to the forefront of the DC brand. This is perhaps no more evident than in the report that Dwayne Johnson supposedly wanted nothing to do with a cameo in "Shazam! Fury of the Gods." Because why would you do a light-hearted, family-oriented comic book movie when your character has been positioned as an entity equal to Superman (Henry Cavill)?

At any rate, "Black Adam" didn't live up to expectations, and James Gunn and Peter Safran plan to reboot the entire DC film and television slate in the coming years, rendering all of these issues with Black Adam moot.