Skip to main content

What the Black Adam and the JSA comics may reveal about the future of the DCEU

Black Adam and Hawkman
Black Adam and Hawkman (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Black Adam exploded his way into a new trailer on June 8 for his eponymous film which stars Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson in the title role.

Along with a few hints at how the film will adapt Black Adam's comic book origin, the trailer shows off his interactions with the Justice Society, consisting in the film of heroes Hawkman, Doctor Fate, Cyclone, and Atom Smasher. 

The inclusion of the Justice Society in Black Adam - specifically some of the characters chosen for the movie - is no arbitrary choice for expanding the DC Universe presence in the film.

Black Adam poster (Image credit: Warner Bros. )
(opens in new tab)

In writers Geoff Johns and David Goyer's longrunning JSA (opens in new tab) comic book title, which featured art from Stephen Sadowski, Alan Davis, and many others, Black Adam becomes a controversial member of the JSA himself, moving from his traditional role as an out-and-out villain to becoming more of an anti-hero - before tragedy strikes, and Black Adam's relationship with the JSA takes a dark turn.

What goes on between Black Adam and the JSA, and what can that comic book tale tell us about the Black Adam movie? Read on to find out.

Black Adam and the JSA

(Image credit: DC)
(opens in new tab)

Through most of his history, Black Adam was a diabolical arch-enemy to SHAZAM!, sharing and abusing the power of the Wizard. But in Johns and Goyer's JSA, Black Adam reforms and joins the Justice Society after teaming up against them with the Injustice Society, who nearly kill the entire JSA until Adam's face turn.

Interestingly, this arc forms the basis for the first season of DC Universe/CW's Stargirl show.

Following Black Adam's reformation, he and Atom Smasher – a size-changing hero who started out as the teen hero Nuklon of 80's Earth-2 team Infinity Inc. and whose grandfather was the Golden Age atomic supervillain Cyclotron – first form a rivalry.

But as Atom Smasher grows more violent and ruthless in his superhero tactics, killing the villain Extant, Black Adam comes to consider him a brother and nurtures his increasingly violent sense of twisted justice.

World War III

(Image credit: DC)
(opens in new tab)

This relationship culminates in a trip to Black Adam's native country of Kahndaq, a fictional nation geographically located in the DC Universe's North Africa/Southwest Asia region.

While in Kahndaq, Atom Smasher assassinates the dictatorial president who holds power, allowing Black Adam to become Kahndaq's leader, exercising his own brand of ancient rule. Atom Smasher and several of his former Infinity, Inc. teammates become Black Adam's enforcers, keeping the JSA out.

Ultimately, it's decided Black Adam can remain in power in Kahndaq, as long as he and his allies never leave the country. At first Black Adam agrees, but in the yearlong weekly limited series 52 (opens in new tab), Black Adam and his adopted family Isis and Osiris become global heroes – leading Amanda Waller to send the Suicide Squad to take them down.

Black Adam, Isis, and Osiris fight back – with Osiris killing a member of the Squad. Waller exposes Osiris's act, and Black Adam turns against the entire world and its heroes in a story titled 'World War III (opens in new tab)'.

Black Adam's subsequent rampage leads Atom Smasher to turn against him, helping defeat his one time mentor and eventually facing the consequences of his own crimes in Kahndaq.

The JSA in the Black Adam Movie

It's a lot, right?

There are a few big takeaways to parse from both this saga, and from what Dwayne Johnson said at the end of his Black Adam panel during DC Fandome 2021, in which he issued a challenge to the Justice League.

"Flash, SHAZAM!, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman, things will never be the same. The power balance of the DC Universe is about to change."

Couple that with the inclusion of the JSA in the film, and the trailer's hints at Black Adam's conflicted role as an anti-hero, and it seems that the Black Adam movie may be just the start of his larger involvement in the DCEU.

Learn all about the origin, powers, and history of Black Adam in comics.

George Marston
George Marston

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)