Comics 101: Who the Hell Even Is Black Adam?


The DC universe is no stranger to highlighting obscure characters. Despite boasting three of the most well-recognized superheroes of all-time—you know their names—the DC movies as of late have been teeing up characters you wouldn't normally expect to be a blockbuster headliner. After all, who would've thought we would've gotten not one, but two Suicide Squad movies, a Batman-less Joker film, and a Birds of Prey crime-comedy. 

DC Films continues this trend with their latest release, Black Adam, only with possibly the biggest movie star in the world right now: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Johnson has been candid as of late about his desire to see Black Adam face-off against Henry Cavill's Superman, arguably the face of the cinematic universe. Yet, who among the general audience can say they know who the character even is? We break down the origin and essential comics of the former Shazam! villain below.


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Here's Black Adam's comics origin story:

The origin story of Black Adam remains relatively similar across the different reboots and universe resets. The different stories largely revolve around a slave from ancient Egypt named Teth-Adam, who was granted powers by the wizard Shazam in order to become the champion of his people.

With some minor differences between the iterations (depending on whether Black Adam is presented as a villain or anti-hero), the gist is that the power of Shazam brings out the more brutal side of Teth-Adam, ultimately leading to his eternal imprisonment or banishment—until he resurfaces in modern times, of course, because comics.

In modern times, Black Adam discovers the new champion of Shazam, the modern superhero who's, well, called "Shazam!" The two become arch-nemesis, if you couldn't already tell by Black Adam literally wearing just an all-black version of Shazam's red and gold costume.

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Will we see Black Adam fight Superman?

Black Adam in the comics has largely been associated as Shazam's greatest villain, like the Joker is to Batman and Lex Luthor is to Superman. However, that's not necessarily a high bar to clear, given that the rest of Shazam's rogue's gallery is made up of a telepathic caterpillar and a supervillain literally named Captain Nazi.


As to why he is being primed to fight Superman in the blockbuster movie event equivalent to Pacquiao v. Mayweather? Our money's on two words: The Rock. Would you expect a movie star on the caliber of Dwayne Johnson to simply go toe-to-toe against the light and comedic star of Shazam! Zachary Levi? Exactly. The only match-up that makes sense for Johnson would be to take on the planet-shaking gravitas of Henry Cavill, a man who literally reloaded his biceps while in a bathroom brawl with Tom Cruise.


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