Just when you thought you at last After memorizing most of the names of the ever-expanding Suicide Squad, DC casts a new crew of anti-heroes in Black Adam, his latest attempt at box office domination.
Meet the Justice Society of America (JSA), a crew of superheroes bent on suppressing, or at least better controlling, the titular anti-hero Black Adam. You won’t remember these people from previous movies (aside from a cameo by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), but they’ve been comic book faithful for decades.
Before you watch Black Adam, familiarize yourself with the new cast of morally ambiguous superhumans. From Doctor Fate to Adam himself, here are the fresh faces you’ll meet in Black Adam. (“Black Adam” is distributed by Warner Bros., which shares parent company Warner Bros. Discovery with CNN.)
Played by: Dwayne The Rock Johnson
Powers: Super speed and strength, magic, flight, lightning, extended life, among many others
Black Adam is the morally ambiguous predecessor of Shazam, the lanky teenager-turned-adult superhero. Adam was born centuries ago as “Teth-Adam,” a normal guy who, according to DC, becomes the “champion” of a wizard named Shazam, who instills in him the power of multiple gods. Unlike Shazam the superhero (a different type than the wizard – yes, it’s confusing), Teth-Adam didn’t use his newfound powers forever. He is banished by the wizard who bestowed his powers on him and given him a new name to match his corrupted heart – Black Adam.
We meet Adam as he returns from 5,000 years of captivity. He is determined to liberate his homeland, a fictional North African country called Kahndaq, Johnson told the New York Times. But he’s not Wonder Woman — Adam “murders people straight” to further his cause, Empire Magazine said in its three-star review of the film. He believes he’s the “right person to lead humanity,” says DC, and sometimes that means making decisions that put the good of the many above the lives of the few.
Played by: Pierce Brosnan
Powers: Magic, superintelligence, escape – it works!
A nerd by day and a wizard by night, Kent Nelson is a “friendly academic” who becomes a formidable hero when he wears the golden “helmet of fate,” which is also imbued with godlike powers, says DC. In an interview with the AV Club, Brosnan explained that the helmet is both a “curse and a blessing” that the character lives with because his father, an archaeologist, discovered the artifact.
Doctor Fate helped found the Justice Society, a superhero supergroup tasked in the film with curbing Black Adam’s anti-hero antics. On screen, Brosnan-as-Fate is the JSA’s seasoned veteran, keeping the newbies engaged while he takes on Adam – but he has his own secrets too, Brosnan teased.
Played by: Aldis Hodge
Powers: Flight, super strength, overall champion of combat
Add another bird-themed superhero to your mental Rolodex and meet Hodges Hawkman, a hero who flies with massive golden wings and wears a golden helmet with a golden bird’s beak – DC describes him as “a fierce warrior without equal”. Good luck Adam! In the film, Hawkman leads the JSA to stop Adam, but still relies on Doctor Fate for fatherly advice.
The character has “been through so much,” Hodge teased in an interview with Vanity Fair, and those experiences have influenced the colorful style in which he fights. Hawkman, aka Carter Hall, is also a counterpart to Adam, Hodge said, both of whom yearn for justice but have different, uncompromising ideas about how to achieve it. Ultimately, he said, they find a “mutual respect” in each other – two superstars of impressive strength.
He’s also motivated by love – throughout his life at DC Comics he’s been in a devoted relationship with, of course, Hawkgirl.
Played by: Quintessa Swindell
Powers: control wind
It’s one thing to be empowered by an amulet or cursed artifact; it’s another, easy to use the elements. Meet Cyclone, a teenage heroine whose mind can manipulate the air and weaponize extreme weather to repel enemies (she received her powers after being a test subject for nefarious scientists). According to DC, she brings a “social justice attitude” to the Justice Society.
Swindell, a non-binary actress, has said her character is influenced by ballet, and while Cyclone, aka Maxine Hunkel, is the newest addition to the JSA, she’s not afraid to embrace her true self: “Very rarely do I have one role that paints a young girl in a way that gives her an opportunity to live authentically and truly in her madness,” Swindell said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
Played by: Noah Centineo
Powers: Randomly grow into a giant and then shrink back again
Don’t call him Ant-Man: This is Atom Smasher, a young JSA recruit whose powers you’ll surely recognize – he’s a “mass manipulator,” meaning he can transform into a Godzilla-sized version of himself – but without the size-changing tech Atom Smasher is a “metahuman” like Cyclone, and the process of becoming huge is painful, Centineo told Syfy: His muscles “break and then form” and then break and form again new when it returns to its default size.
He’s also a bit of a “nepotism baby”: His grandfather, “forced into villainy,” Centineo said, was the first to receive the powers inherited from Atom Smasher, so while he lacks the experience of his JSA peers, “he’s coming.” from that pedigree,” making him a confident if arrogant addition to the group.