After languishing in development hell for the last 15 years, Black Adam, one of 2022’s most-anticipated movies starring bonafide action star Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is finally in theatres worldwide.
The movie got off to a rocky start with critics, but, like most things in the entertainment space, the end user (enter: The Audience) gets the final say, and, boy, do they love this one. As of the time of writing this review, Black Adam stood at a 39% to 90% critic-to-audience disparity rating; and that’s a really wide gap, all things considered.
What does the average member of the movie audience see in Black Adam that critics do not?
I believe the answer lies at the end of the spectrum that bears a good time.
The Rock is a showbiz maestro and, after all these years of starring in thorough crowd-pleasing movie roles, he has a pretty good idea about what the audience wants, and, in Black Adam, he gives it to them. Critics might call it bland, repetitive, regurgitive, an MCU-copycat, or any of the other colorful words they might muster, but all most moviegoers experience seeing the movie is a good time. Black Adam doesn’t do anything to reinvent the wheel of moviemaking; heck, it doesn’t even really act like that’s a thing it wants to do, but what it falls short of in terms of logic it easily makes up for in spectacle. The CGI mostly holds up and the action almost never stops once it starts. Add to that characters whose backstories and motivations aren’t properly fleshed out but are played by confident, crowd-pleasing actors, and the pieces start to come together even more.
Black Adam has all the makings of a modern-day blockbuster – relatively low substance, high-octane action scenes; low in-universe stakes for its characters, yet plenty of returns for the filmmakers if the audience likes it – Dwayne Johnson knows this, one look at the trailer and I could infer this to a certain extent, too, and I want to bet that most of the critics awarding it low ratings do, too. Why then are they so vexed? It could be that, after a long spell of (rightly) writing off movies in the main DCEU, they’ve gotten too used to the M.O. that they don’t realize they themselves have fallen into a routine. Whatever the real reason is, I hope the bold statement being made by the audience sends home an even louder message: don’t f*ck with the DCEU now. Power may truly have changed hands. After that long-awaited (not so surprising) cameo, only time will tell.
Black Adam is currently showing in theatres worldwide.