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Where Black Adam Fits In The DCEU Timeline

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has teased for some time that "the hierarchy of power is about to change" in the DCEU. Ever since the muscle-bound wrestler-turned-blockbuster actor connected with Warner Bros. for a live-action portrayal of Shazam's greatest foe, Black Adam, a degree of excitement and intrigue has filled the air. After all, it isn't often that a villain receives his own feature film. And whether Black Adam will fit squarely in the villain category or bleed into anti-hero territory for this film remains to be seen. Even still, Black Adam is a super-powered being we've never seen the likes of before on the big screen, and this will also be Johnson's first foray into live-action comic book films.

With the DCEU in a bit of disarray thanks to the course correction that seems to be occurring following director Zack Snyder's opening salvo for the film-adapted universe, the future of this iteration of DC heroes is unknown. Regardless of the direction the DCEU is headed in, one thing is certain: It's not ending any time soon. "Black Adam" will inject a surge of energy into the franchise thanks to Johnson's star power.

The real question, however, is where will the film fit into the overall DCEU timeline of events? With several films and an HBO Max TV series contained within this film universe of DC heroes and villains, there's already a wide span of history available to insert more lore in. The expansive history of Black Adam will surely broaden that scope even further. While we don't have any on-the-record statements regarding the timing of "Black Adam" in the DCEU, there's still plenty we can glean from the promotional materials, the character's comic origins, and other hints provided by the already-existing DCEU properties to make some determinations. Let's dive into those clues.

Born at the dawn of the DCEU

Black Adam's roots go deep. Perhaps the oldest DCEU character to date besides the wizard Shazam (Djimon Hounsou), whom we met at the Rock of Eternity, Black Adam was born a few thousand years ago, likely predating even Wonder Woman's birth. Teth-Adam began his life as a subjugated citizen of ancient Kahndaq, a fictional territory akin to Egypt. His early story is tragic — one of the film's trailers depicts his son perishing while seemingly defending his father. Enslaved, Teth-Adam's heart forms a fire of vindication that will never again be extinguished.

The wizard Shazam, of course, grants Teth-Adam the powers of gods. Unforeseen by the wizard, however, is that Teth-Adam holds no restraint in delivering deadly justice to his abusers. With his heart hardened, he has no remorse for the path of destruction he leaves in his wake in his bid to protect the greater good. In Black Adam's earliest origins in Fawcett Comics (before the character was acquired by DC), he destroys the Pharaoh and all who held seats of power before claiming the throne for himself. This occurs over five millennia ago. In Johnson's narration of the Black Adam teaser shown during DC Fandom in 2021, he confirms that Black Adam's story began 5,000 years in the past.

Black Adam was sealed away for 5,000 years

Of course, Black Adam somehow finds himself in the world of heroes and villains. Despite being far removed from that world with a few thousand years standing in the way, the wizard who granted Black Adam his powers ensures he'll be able to mingle with the greater universe of DC heroes. After Black Adam's rampage in Kahndaq, the wizard realizes his mistake in bestowing Teth-Adam with the powers of gods. Unfortunately, the wizard isn't able to revoke the power once it is given. Instead, he labels the violent being Teth-Adam has become as "Black Adam" and then banishes him, determined to seal him away from the world of humans.

In the Fawcett origins of the character, the wizard teleports Black Adam to the other side of the universe, and it simply takes the villain 5,000 years to find his way back to Earth. The teaser for this film depicts the wizard using his magic to seemingly entomb Black Adam until a later day when he can rise again. The hope, however, is that the wizard will have found a new champion by that time who could confront and defeat Black Adam.

Kahndaq is in shambles

In the present day, the good people within the DCEU have experienced a volatile and tumultuous world. Aliens from Krypton threatened to destroy the world, an unstoppable beast known as Doomsday nearly destroyed Metropolis until Superman gave his own life to defeat it, ocean-dwelling people had a civil war over whether or not to destroy life on the surface, the Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) nearly toppled Midway City, a giant alien starfish named Starro visited terror upon Corto Maltese, and alien butterflies threatened to take over the world. That's just the tip of the iceberg. Thankfully, humanity lives in an era of superheroes who can capably combat these threats.

Black Adam will emerge from his banishment in this age of heroes. One Easter egg in the "Peacemaker" series on HBO Max gives us a clue as to when this might occur. In the episode "The Choad Less Traveled," Vigilante (Freddie Stroma) seeks to get himself arrested in order to get close to Peacemaker's father (Robert Patrick) in prison so that he can kill him. In a courtyard where security guards are taking a break and having lunch, one guard is seen reading a newspaper with an article that indicates an "Intergang" has seized power in the nation of Kahndaq. In DC Comics lore, Intergang is a criminal organization that uses advanced weaponry obtained from Apokolips to further their agenda. Black Adam considers himself a savior and protector of Kahndaq. Once he returns, he'll surely have a few words with Intergang, unless they're somehow related. However, this Easter egg suggests that the primary events of "Black Adam" will occur sometime after "Peacemaker."

Black Adam is reborn

In comic book lore, there have been several retellings of Black Adam and his origins. Furthermore, there have been multiple perspectives of his rebirth in the modern world. In his first origin story with Fawcett Comics, he was banished across the universe, and it takes thousands of years for him to travel back. However, in a new look at the hero Shazam and his arch nemesis in "Shazam!" vol. 1, written by famed DC comics maestro Geoff Johns, Black Adam is imprisoned by the wizard in a type of tomb for his villainous deeds. Initially, Billy Batson sees the past and witnesses a boy who attempts to survive oppression alongside his uncle. He's gifted powers by the wizard Shazam, and Billy incorrectly assumes that this boy from his vision is Black Adam. In all reality, the uncle is Black Adam, and he takes the power from his nephew, killing him.

In the modern age, Dr. Sivana uncovers the entrance to Black Adam's prison. He says the magic word, "Shazam!" and sets the villain free once again. In a bid for total dominion, Black Adam seeks out the wizard's champion, Billy Batson, in an attempt to defeat him.

The new DCEU film may not include the hero Shazam (Zachary Levi) or his boy counterpart, Billy Batson (Asher Angel), but Black Adam is clearly released from his magical prison to once again bring his brand of justice down on those he deems deserving.

The JSA is active

If promotional materials are to be believed, Black Adam's primary heroic hurdle will be the Justice Society of America. The JSA is a group of odd heroes collected during the Golden Age of comics. Often in various DC continuities, the JSA predates the Justice League. Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), Dr. Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo), and Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell) are all heroes set to appear in the film. Of course, the JSA has a deep bench of members who are not present in the film, including the original Flash, Jay Garrick, as well as the first human Green Lantern, Alan Scott. The Justice Society of America clashed with the enemies of its era, including the tyrannical Nazi regime. While the characters have all appeared in modern comics, the JSA is typically recognized as a group of heroes from a classic era.

How these heroes emerge in the world of the DCEU is unknown. Unlike Superman or Wonder Woman, we aren't treated to an origin tale of these heroes, besides whatever exposition offered in "Black Adam." Primary players like Dr. Fate and Hawkman are born from ancient powers, if they're at all like their comic book counterparts. Dr. Fate is a creation of a cosmic deity. Hawkman originated as an Egyptian prince called Khufu who, after being killed with a mystical dagger, is bound to be reincarnated upon death. During the era of the JSA, he is Carter Hall and adopts the mantle of Hawkman using Nth metal as his armor and weaponry. These powerful beings have mostly been around for some time.

The Justice League has already formed

Black Adam will seemingly have worthy contenders (and possible allies) in the JSA with the upcoming DCEU film. By all accounts, the primary story of "Black Adam" occurs in the modern day after the events of "Justice League." (The theatrical version of "Justice League" is apparently canon.) This likely means that the JSA and the Justice League co-exist in the same era. However, the reason why the JSA are the only heroes who seem to respond to the climactic events unfolding in the promotional materials is yet to be seen.

Of course, Black Adam was still slumbering in limbo during Kal-El's (Henry Cavill) entrance into the world as Superman. Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) may have lived a few thousand years, but she only made herself known to humanity during the First World War. Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) has been operating as Batman for decades by the time we catch up with him in "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice." Aquaman (Jason Mamoa) and the Flash (Ezra Miller) also had superheroing careers before joining the League.

While the Justice League took some time to come together in this world, its members have been pounding the pavement for years in the lead-up to "Black Adam." The greater DCEU is familiar with these rockstars — as seen from a civilian perspective in shows like "Peacemaker" — but the JSA still seems to be relatively unknown, so it'll be interesting to see how the timelines link up. Interestingly, another DCEU connection was confirmed at Comic-Con: Amanda Waller from the "Suicide Squad" films will appear in "Black Adam."

Will Black Adam fight Superman?

"The hierarchy of power in the DC Universe is about to change." Those words have been constantly uttered by Dwayne Johnson. Johnson has been attached to the character of Black Adam for some time and seems very enthusiastic about showing the anti-hero's power in the DCEU. What better way to draw a line in the sand than to challenge the clear alpha of DC superheroes — Superman. Black Adam has always been a formidable foe for Shazam and Superman in DC comics lore. Notably, Superman's other weakness outside of kryptonite is magic, something Black Adam can produce punishing amounts of in spades thanks to his godly gifts.

If Black Adam were to confront Superman in the upcoming film or even as a tease leading into a sequel film, that'd further solidify the movie's place in the overall DCEU timeline. If you're thinking this match-up is a pipe-dream, then perhaps you haven't been paying attention to the Rock's recent social media engagement.

One fan on Twitter offered a bit of wishful thinking in seeing the two titans coming together. Johnson retweeted the message and shared that he always aims to listen to his audience, stating, "I hear you & I always got you." If that's not a tease for the Man of Steel, what is? Whether the Big Blue Boy Scout will make a grand appearance or simply be relegated to a cameo teasing a future narrative remains to be seen — we're not even sure whether Henry Cavill will return.

Shazam may not appear

The big question is, where is Black Adam's arch-nemesis in all of this? Shazam and Black Adam are like Joker and Batman. Young Billy Batson as the all-powerful hero Shazam seeks to do good and uphold a heroic standard. Black Adam doesn't live by a code of any kind. His goal is singular in his mind, and no act is too amoral or dicey if it furthers his objective of obliterating tyranny and opposition. Despite the differences in moral philosophy, Shazam and Black Adam are ultimately two sides of the same coin, both imbued with godly powers by the same wizard. In the comics, the wizard saw the error of his ways and banished Black Adam until a hero could be called forward to defeat him. With the rise of Billy Batson as Shazam, that time had come.

However, this is a film focused solely on the "bad guy" — a move that is likely to position Black Adam as a sympathetic anti-hero. Shazam is obviously nowhere to be seen in the promotional material, and director Jaume Collet-Serra said not to expect a Shazam-Black Adam match-up yet. "Our movie is an original story," he said (per Variety). "By the time the movie ends, he doesn't know who Shazam or Superman is."

However, it's fairly certain that "Black Adam" takes place after the first "Shazam!" film. If Black Adam were around during the events of "Shazam!" he would have most certainly confronted Billy over his powers. Black Adam doesn't want a champion standing in the way of his goals, and he also wants to be a supreme power. Eliminating Shazam is the only means to that end. The two will inevitably meet in the DCEU, however, even if it isn't in Black Adam's first outing. It's destiny.

Where does Shazam: Fury of the Gods fit in?

It may seem a bit odd that we're getting two separate films nearly back-to-back with one featuring a hero and the other a villain whose rivalry is as solid as Batman and Joker, yet the two super-powered beings won't actually contend with one another. But that seems to be what's happening. "Shazam: Fury of the Gods" is set to release in December, just a couple of months after "Black Adam." Yet "Shazam" will feature a wildly new antagonist in the form of Helen Mirren's Hespera, a jealous god seeking the power of Shazam for herself.

Black Adam will emerge to contend with the Intergang while Shazam will likely simultaneously be working with his family to dispel evil across the world in Philly. Of course, these two will eventually come to blows, but these films aren't the stage for that conflict. Though, it remains to be seen as to whether either film will tease the future clash or if cameos of either character make an appearance in the opposite film. From a timeline perspective, however, consider these films either concurrent or happening relatively close together while still remaining separate struggles from one another.

A post-Justice League world

With the future of the Justice League up in the air, there may be a brand-new world out there for Black Adam to conquer. Ben Affleck is wrapping up his turn as Batman with the upcoming "The Flash" movie (per Vanity Fair). It's hard believing Ray Fisher will be back in the Cyborg role any time soon considering his feud with the executive leadership at Warner Bros. The Flash as portrayed by Ezra Miller will almost definitely not return outside of his solo project, after the actor's various alleged crimes. Wonder Woman is primed for a third film, rounding out a trilogy for the Amazonian warrior. "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom" is also in the works, but Henry Cavill's involvement as Superman in the DCEU, despite fan speculation, is unknown. While Dwayne Johnson may be teasing his return in "Black Adam," nothing is set in stone.

With Black Adam about to make his mark in the DCEU and the tease of a shift in power, could Johnson's take on the Man in Black be the one who leads us into the future of DCEU? The remaining heroes — Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Shazam, and whoever from the JSA survives "Black Adam" — could use a central hero, or a unifying villain. The film universe is on the precipice of a shake-up as Warner Bros. seems bent on abandoning what Zack Snyder began. With a leading man like Johnson, anything is possible.