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Unpacking that big 'Black Adam' credits sequence and what comes next
Black Adam's ending sets the stage for something even bigger. Something... super.
Black Adam is a film with a lot to accomplish. Yes, it's the movie that introduces Dwayne Johnson's long-developing interpretation of the titular antihero to the world, but it's also the film that has to introduce the Justice Society of America and its various heroes and, of course, integrate all of those characters into a pre-existing universe that will certainly change thanks to their presence. Then, after all that, it has to set up what comes next, a buzzed-about credits scene with big implications for the DCEU.
So, let's take a minute to unpack how Black Adam wrapped up, and what it could mean for the future of the DCEU.
**SPOILERS AHEAD for Black Adam.**
Well, he really did it. After years of talking about just how much he'd like to see Black Adam face off against the Man of Steel, Johnson got his wish in Black Adam's mid-credits stinger, when Henry Cavill showed up in full Superman regalia to have a chat with the Man in Black. It's a big moment, even cheer-worthy, but apart from Superman saying "We need to talk," it doesn't really go anywhere...yet.
But what does it mean in the context of what we've seen so far? So much of Black Adam's role in his own introductory film is reacting to what other characters want to impose on him, whether the people of Kahndaq would like him to be their champion, or Amanda Waller and the Justice Society would like him to power down and come quietly. Adam spends a lot of the film resisting both pulls, then finally giving in to them both, before eventually settling on a kind of compromise between the two. By the end of the movie proper, he's deciding to be Kahndaq's protector, and the Justice Society — well, Hawkman, Atom Smasher, and Cyclone, at least — seem to be cool with that, having grown to respect Black Adam even if they don't always agree with him.
And to his credit, Adam seems to have developed a respect for the Justice Society as well, after slugging it out with Hawkman several times and then learning to work with the quartet to save his home, even if meant that Doctor Fate had to pass on in the process. One person he hasn't developed respect for, though, is Amanda Waller, who pops up again in the credits sequence to pass on a warning to Black Adam: Don't leave Kahndaq under any circumstances, or she'll put him down. When he responds that "no one on this planet" is strong enough to make that happen, Waller simply says she knows some people who aren't from this planet.
That's when Cavill arrives, seemingly setting up the showdown to come and fulfilling Johnson's wish to have Superman fight Black Adam. It's a great moment that promises big things ahead for both characters, but what's more interesting about the scene is that it doesn't suggest an immediate physical confrontation. Black Adam's just spent an entire movie learning that he doesn't always have to fight to get what he wants, and Superman's not one to punch first and ask questions later, particularly when he's very, very hard to hurt and has already learned that lesson the hard way in Batman v Superman.
So, how do we get from this moment to these two behemoths of the DC Universe coming to blows? We of course don't know for sure yet, but hopefully there's quite a bit of nuance to dig through between now and then. After all, there are already other heroes on Earth who've faced off against Black Adam and come away believing that he's, if not outright heroic, then at least willing to be reasonable and respect other people with power close to his own. That knowledge, which Superman certainly wouldn't ignore, combined with Black Adam's own new approach to things, would suggest a mutual respect between these two heroes as well. As for how that could eventually lead to a fight, well, consider DC Comics history.
For all his ability to work alongside other heroes sometimes, and even his turns to the outright benevolent in some stories, Black Adam still operates from a different perspective from most members of the Justice League and Justice Society. He's from the old world, and he tends to think of justice and "doing the right thing" in certain old world terms, no matter how much he learns from his super-powered peers. That means he's the kind of guy who can get brutal when he feels he needs to, not out of some sense of malice or evil, but because he believes brutality is necessary to get his point across. That kind of thinking never sits very well with Superman, so that could lead to a clash. Then, of course, there's the issue of other villains out there in the DCEU. Lex Luthor, to name just one example, could certainly find a way to exploit Black Adam's power and, more importantly, his interest in protecting Kahndaq at all costs. This is a guy who, in one comic book story, wiped out a whole other country in the name of his own people, so it's easy to imagine he'd be willing to listen to proposals from less-than-savory characters if he got his way.
However it happens, it's clear that Black Adam and Superman are each in uncharted territory when it comes to their connection. Neither has met a foe quite like the other before, and that means that whether they're warring with words or with fists, it's going to be worth watching.
Black Adam is now in theaters.
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