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'Black Adam' star Aldis Hodge on Hawkman's helmet and a potential solo movie
SYFY WIRE talked with Hodge in the lead up to Black Adam's Oct. 21 premiere.
The first reactions to Black Adam are out, and those who’ve seen it think the film’s characters, from Dwayne Johnson’s Teth-Adam to the members of the Justice Society of America, led by Aldis Hodge’s Hawkman, have shaken up the DCEU in a good way.
SYFY WIRE had the chance to talk with Hodge about how he prepared to take on the role of Hawkman (including how to emote properly through the superhero’s supersized helmet) and what he’d love to see in a potential Hawkman movie. Read on for that spoiler-free discussion.
You’ve talked before about how you prepared for your fight scenes as Hawkman, and that you were very intent on keeping the character faithful to the comics. Did you have any other inspirations that you turned to for the character, besides the comics?
Granted, I wasn't trying to play exactly who I saw in the comics. I was looking for symmetry — I was connecting the dots from what we saw in the 1940s all the way up to the Geoff Johns stuff we see today and understanding what is the history that fans have been tracking for so long?
Once I figured out what that was for me, as a fan, I just leaned on that to create a space for honesty in the portrayal of who this man is — what he wants, what he's driven by, what he's haunted by. And then I had an open conversation with [Black Adam director Jaume Collet-Serra] about what his vision was, and he allowed me to fill up this character the way I saw in my mind.
I’m a fan of being able to say, “Oh, I get to play a superhero!” I've been thinking about this for a long time. So we got to get into it, but it came down to who he was as a man and being able to see where that landed with me naturally.
In the movie, we see Hawkman in his full regalia, including that big helmet. I was impressed with how you conveyed Hawkman's feelings so well through it. Did you change your acting style at all to be able to show your character's feelings through that helmet?
The first thing I needed to do was learn how to see through the helmet — it’s a little difficult because your vision is blocked off at least 50 percent, and your periphery is shut down. Once I had that down, most emotion is met through the eyes. And that was a conversation with Jaume early on, where he was really concerned about how to pull out the emotion when wearing a helmet that takes up 90 percent of my face. There’s is a real emotional journey for all the characters but Hawkman especially, there's a lot going on there. Jaume really wanted to figure out what was our rhythm for finding the emotion in these moments. I used a lot of body movement and it all came through the eyes.
In the helmet, the eyes have to be a bit bigger. And if you're grinning, smiling, or yelling, that all has to be a little bit bigger as well because people can only see the eyes and the mouth and they can't see the rest. So I couldn't rest on a simple look — sometimes when you just give somebody a look, that's enough — but if I give somebody a look in the helmet, they can't read my full expression. So I definitely had to be aware of that. I was like, “Alright, we gotta go big acting, just so people can really feel me through this thing.” And I'm glad I got my practice up because if there happens to be a few more films down the line with this, we are well set, because there is a learning curve.
Speaking of potential future movies, if down the road Hawkman has his own movie, what aspects of the character would you want to explore more?
I would definitely love to explore Hawkman’s backstory. For anybody who knows the real reason why Hawkman reincarnates, that story alone is so deep and so awesome. I would love to really explore that. I would also love to explore the inception of building the JSA and seeing who the members are.
I have a bit of a little bias because of my brother Edwin Hodge. I would love for him to be Mr. Terrific in the JSA because my brother plays Mr. Terrific in the animated DC movie Injustice. So that would be really awesome. But I really want to see them together because they are the first superhero team that was ever introduced to the world. They’re the ones who are really establishing the rules, and that's a brilliant story. That's so much amazing history.
But Hawkman himself — life, after life, after life — has experienced so much and has to maintain and hold on to who he is. That to me is just storytelling gold. So I would love to see where he started so we can understand where we see him now.
Black Adam premieres in theaters on Friday, Oct. 21. This interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.
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