Black Adam Reviews: Critics Share Mixed Reactions to New DC Movie

By Richard Nebens Updated:
Black Adam Movie Reviews

Following one of the longest development periods in modern movie history, Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam is ready to blast its way onto the big screen in the coming days. 

The DC Extended Universe’s 11th movie will bring one of the biggest movie stars in the business into the story along with one of the most powerful characters in comic book history. And while the future of the DC Extended Universe is increasingly murky, fans are hopeful that The Rock's star power and passion for this project will help it shine.

With potential ties to the Justice League and a chance for some A-list cameos, along with some incredible action, Black Adam may have the opportunity to stand alone as one of the more unique superhero outings of the modern era. Well, critics have seen the final results from Johnson and his team's efforts, and as has been the case many times for the DC Universe, it's a mixed bag.

Critics Share Reactions to Black Adam

Black Adam DC

Following the world premiere event for Warner Bros. Discovery's Black Adam, critics have shared their first reactions to the latest effort from the DC Extended Universe.

Gizmondo's Germain Lussier called the movie "a worthy new piece of the DC puzzle," but admitted it wasn't the masterpiece some expected. He summed it up by describing the story as "messy in a watchable way:"

"Black Adam is a worthy new piece of the DC puzzle, but not the savior it promised. A surprising compressed timeline keeps the action exciting & pace propulsive, but also turns its many (many) themes, plots, & characters into fancy window dressing. It's messy in a watchable way."

Variety's Courtney Howard loved how the film threw in "a hearty amount of real world touchstones" while praising director Juame Collet-Serra for the way he laid out the foundations for "a larger, grand universe:"

"The Rock is terrific in Black Adam, which includes a hearty amount of real world touchstones (most affecting is it reinforces the need for heroes in bleak times). Director Juame Collet-Serra lays out building blocks for a larger, grand universe. Action is lively & BIG in scale."

Fandango's Erik Davis had nothing but praise for the film, hyping The Rock's performance while also giving props to Aldis Hodge (Hawkman) and Pierce Brosnan (Doctor Fate) and calling for more Justice Society of America movies:

"DC's Black Adam ROCKS! Tons of action, characters you’re instantly invested in & terrific pacing. Dwayne Johnson finds a great balance in being menacing & badass, but also empathetic. Especially loved Aldis Hodge’s Hawkman & Pierce Brosnan’s Doctor Fate. More JSA movies please!"

Next Best Picture's Matt Neglia admitted that Black Adam struggled at the start "to find its footing," but that it got significantly better once the JSA entered the equation. He also teased that the film's post-credits scene "got the biggest reaction" from fans:

"Black Adam struggles to find its footing at first but once the Justice Society enters it becomes more fun to watch. Dwayne Johnson’s anti-hero presents an intriguing new dynamic to the DCEU. Solid visual effects. Weak villain. Post-credits scene got the biggest reaction of all."

CNET's Sean Keane had a much more negative experience watching the movie at his screening, lamenting the fact that there was "no emotional depth" and "zero sense of peril" for the leading hero:

"Had to go through metal detectors for the Black Adam NY screening. Pity it’s bad - no emotional depth, zero sense of peril for the main character and dull CGI battles."

Screen Rant's Joseph Deckelmeier wasn't disappointed by what Black Adam delivered, praising Johnson as "electrifyingly brutal" and celebrating the JSA's introduction on the big screen:

"Black Adam is a game-changer!! This is the DC Comics movie I’ve been waiting for & it did not disappoint. The Rock is electrifyingly brutal as Black Adam! This is what I wanted Black Adam to be. The action in the film is non-stop & seeing the JSA on the big screen was a thrill!

We Live Entertainment's Scott Menzel teased that Johnson's solo DC outing is "a Snyder-esque antihero spectacle" while calling the role of Black Adam one that The Rock "was born to play:"

"Black Adam is everything that I hoped it would be and more. A Snyder-esque antihero spectacle that delivers big action and impressive set pieces. Dwayne Johnson transforms into Black Adam, a role that he was born to play. Centineo & Swindell are so damn fun to watch."

Vox's Alex Abads celebrated how the movie "works in many ways" thanks to Johnson and his co-stars, but noted that "the script’s inconsistent internal logic" disappoints in the full story:

"Black Adam works in many ways — a Dwayne Johnson and Pierce Brosnan charm offensive; Aldis Hodge oozing charisma: Centineo and Swindell’s chemistry — but the script’s inconsistent internal logic lets them down in a lot of spots"'s Brandon Davis teased the "epic, non-stop action" in this movie while hoping for a sequel that has "a smoother story," giving props to Johnson and Brosnan for their roles. 

He continued to prop up Johnson's performance, picturing him "crossing over with other heroes and villains" following his first DC movie:

"Black Adam is built on some epic, non-stop action. It made me want a sequel with a smoother story immediately. When it moves, it’s a straight shot of adrenaline. The characters are dope, especially Teth-Adam and Doctor Fate. It’s a bad-ass film. Black Adam is a role The Rock just thrives in. He’s the ultimate bad-ass as Teth-Adam and the thought of him crossing over with other heroes and villains after this one is awesome.

The Direct's own Russ Milheim didn't see Black Adam as "the success WB needed" lamenting the exposition, villain, and effort as a whole. He saw Doctor Fate as "easily the best part," but concluded by calling the film another "forgettable" outing from the DCEU.

"Sadly, Black Adam isn’t the success WB needed. It’s filled with clunky exposition, has a forgettable villain, and feels like it’s just going through the motions. Dr. Fate was easily the best part, but Atom Smasher falls flat. There’s some fun, but overall, it’s forgettable."

YouTuber Austin Blake saw things a completely different way, feeling that The Rock "delivers on his promise" of taking the DCEU down a new path. While not everything lands, Blake teased a couple of moments in the movie "that fans will LOVE:"

"Black Adam is a MASSIVE DC outing. The action is brutal, and Dwayne Johnson delivers on his promise of shifting the DCEU in a different direction. The story itself is up and down, as certain scenes don’t pack the intended punch… Although there are moments that fans will LOVE.

Will Fans Enjoy Black Adam Upon Release?

With the DCEU potentially being reorganized into something completely different in the coming years, fans were hoping that Black Adam could truly mark the beginning of WBD's new era, as Dwayne Johnson has teased for years. And while some fans felt that this happened with Johnson's new movie, others see the same trends that have plagued DC's live-action stories for the last decade.

In terms of plot details that have been rumored for this story, it could be one of the franchise's biggest stories ever, especially with how powerful Black Adam is said to be compared to the rest of DC's heaviest hitters. And while the excitement will surely be there with Johnson leading the way, it's still a mystery how the final plot details will come together to make a cohesive story.

Now, only a few days remain until the general public finds out what DC has delivered for the Man in Black's introduction to the live-action DC Universe.

Black Adam will premiere in theaters on Friday, October 21.

- About The Author: Richard Nebens
Richard Nebens joined The Direct in March 2020, now serving as the site's Senior Writer and also working as an assistant editor and content creator. He started his journalism career as a hobby in 2019 and is passionate about sharing news and stories from the entertainment industry, especially comic book movies, comedy, and sci-fi. Richard looks to expand his knowledge about movies and TV every day, and he is eager to stay locked into the latest releases and breaking news at every opportunity.