The first trailer for the long-awaited DC Extended Universe movie Black Adam has finally dropped. We got our first real glimpse of Dwayne Johnson as the titular super antihero and his massive power set. And as promised, we also got to see Pierce Brosnan’s Doctor Fate and Aldis Hodge’s Hawkman. Both are characters from 1940 finally making their big screen debut. At a special press event to unveil the trailer, Johnson joined director Jaume Collet-Serra and producers Hiram Garcia and Beau Flynn to talk about the very long journey of bringing Teth-Adam and the JSA to life.
“This has been a passion project of mine for many, many years,” Johnson began. “Myself and Hiram and of course, Beau and Jaume too, it became our passion project.” Johnson was initially attached to the project in the mid-2000s, just at the beginning of the comic book movie renaissance. “You have a character here I think that people would really gravitate towards and, I think, really appreciate this character who hasn’t been shown. He’s fresh. Let’s present it to the world.”
“I personally was not a comic book reader when I was younger,” said Collet-Serra, who had worked with Johnson and producers on Disney’s Jungle Cruise movie. “But as soon as they brought this project to me, I just kind of dove in head first into this world and I learned everything there is to learn about Black Adam and the JSA. And I’m super honored to have been a part of this.”
Johnson sang the praises of his director’s approach to the material. “Very early,” he said, “one of the things Jaume said was, ‘what’s your favorite Clint Eastwood movie?’ And I said, probably Dirty Harry or Unforgiven. He goes, ‘well, that makes sense because Black Adam is unforgiving, but also we should make the Dirty Harry of superheroes. And of super villains.'”
Truly, from the trailer, we immediately take note of Black Adam’s seething anger. Living as a slave thousands of years ago, his son died to save him. Then he receives godlike abilities and has no compunction with using those powers to enforce his own code of justice. This puts him in direct opposition of members of the JSA, specifically Hawkman.
“Family is still family and Black Adam believes in protecting his family at all costs,” says Johnson. “And there is a philosophical [difference], two converging, clashing point of views between [Black Adam and Hawkman]. And often times even our greatest superheroes don’t kill. They will rely on justice, but in Black Adam’s case, it’s a little different.”
“There’s a really great debate and allegory inside of this movie between Hawkman and Black Adam,” Flynn added. “And that is a huge part of their arcs in terms of, as they are kind of debating. They each have a very strong argument. And it’s really cool to see where we take each character at the end of the course of it without giving anything away.”
Bringing such legendary DC characters to movie screens for the first time was not lost on the producers. Not only did they want to populate Black Adam’s world with JSA characters, to expand his universe, but to reflect the reality of our current world.
“What an honor, right?” says Flynn. “To not only do the first superhero movie for DJ, but then to introduce the JSA, which the comic book fans out there know was one of the first organizations. It was a huge amount of responsibility for us to cast it right. And make sure we were getting people that captured all those characters.
“Noah [Centineo as Atom Smasher] was our first casting,” Flynn continued, “which we were really excited about. Injecting youth into that JSA group, but also capturing the spirit of Atom Smasher, of these fresh eyes into the group. And then as you start to round it out and you get someone like Aldis [Hodge] for Hawkman.”
“They just were all so fired up and really took to heart the responsibility of portraying these characters,” Garcia added. “What Q[uintessa Swindell] felt in studying Cyclone and bringing Cyclone to life. And Noah with Atom Smasher. And then obviously the icing, the strawberry on top is when you get Pierce Brosnan to play Doctor Fate, who is the wisdom and experience of the group. We just couldn’t be happier. I think the world’s really going to respond to these characters because you can see the JSA is a real foundation for where so many other superhero teams came from. And so for that to be in our movie, it was really special.”
The youth of Atom Smasher and Cyclone added an interesting wrinkle to the movie. “That chemistry is so important between Atom Smasher and Cyclone,” Flynn explained. “And that’s a really cool, fresh relationship. They have optimism about the world. We haven’t seen Gen Z really represented quite like that. So that’s also really exciting. There’s a lot of honesty there.”
Dwayne Johnson, one of the world’s biggest movie stars, has a lot of plans for Black Adam. “I’m one hundred percent committed to not only Black Adam, but then expanding the Black Adam universe, the DC Universe,” Johnson said. “I will—we all will—work very hard to make sure again we’re honoring the mythology, but also giving the fans what they want. So this is the beginning, hopefully, fingers crossed, of a very long storytelling road where Black Adam is the anchoring jet fuel now, that will then push and press this universe out.”
Black Adam hits theaters October 21, 2022.
Kyle Anderson is the Senior Editor for Nerdist. You can find his film and TV reviews here. Follow him on Instagram and Letterboxd.