Was Black Adam spectacular or what? From the first frame to the last, this film was filled with nonstop action, powerful heroes, scary villains, high stakes and deep pieces of comic book lore. Dwayne Johnson embodied Teth-Adam, bringing the villain to life in a way I never thought possible. Along the way, there were plenty of cool references to the comic book source material and wider DC Universe. Here are some of the more exciting things I caught…
But first, a warning. If you’re weary of spoilers, now’s the time to turn back.
- Most of the film takes place in Kahndaq. When Black Adam first appeared in 1945’s Marvel Family #1, his country of origin was Egypt. The country of Kahndaq was first seen in Geoff Johns’ JSA run, and it’s been an important part of Teth-Adam’s mythology ever since. (Keep an eye on DC.com next week for more on this remarkable, if entirely fictional, nation.)
- During the prologue, Kahndaq is ruled by tyrant named Ahk-Ton. Ahk-Ton was an Egyptian priest introduced in The Brave and the Bold #57, though later appearances would state he was a pharaoh. His ancient temple played a role in the origin of the elemental superhero Metamorpho. JSA #43 established Ahk-Ton as the ruler who ordered the killing of Teth-Adam’s family—a plot point seen in the movie.
- Ahk-Ton is searching for an element called Eternium. Introduced in 1998’s Legion of Super-Heroes #110, Eternium comes from shards of the Rock of Eternity. It acts as Kryptonite for anyone who holds the power of Shazam, which we see during Adam’s first battle with Intergang.
- This film establishes Black Adam as a former slave, an element that was introduced when the character was reimagined for DC’s New 52. This new origin was presented in backups in the 2011 Justice League title, and eventually collected in the Shazam!: Origins trade paperback.
- Teth-Adam’s son Hurut first appeared in JSA #44. Although his cinematic counterpart is an only child, the comic book version had a brother named Gon. The movie version of Hurut also seems to be partially based on Teth-Adam’s nephew Aman, who was seen in his New 52 origin.
- Hey look, Djimon Hounsou is back as the wizard Shazam! For those who haven’t seen it, he made his first appearance in the role in 2019’s Shazam!
- You might have noticed that Teth-Adam draws upon the powers of a different set of gods than Billy. This was first established in 1977’s Shazam! #28. Luckily, it still spells out “Shazam.”
- Black Adam angrily confronting Ahk-Ton may be inspired by a scene from his origin story in Marvel Family #1 (above), where Teth-Adam overthrows an unnamed pharaoh.
- In the present day, we learn that Kahndaq is ruled by a terrorist group known as Intergang. In the comics, Intergang is a powerful crime syndicate that is usually based in Metropolis. They have occasionally colluded with the forces of Apokolips, who have given them weapons and technology. Intergang first appeared in Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #133.
- Did you catch the name Shiruta on any of the Kahndaq maps? Shiruta is the capital city of Kahndaq, as seen in JSA #56. The city is named after Teth-Adam’s late wife, who was killed by Ahk-Ton’s forces.
- In the comics, Adrianna and Amon Tomaz are brother and sister instead of mother and son. The siblings were introduced in the series 52, although this Adrianna was also based on the character Andrea Thomas from the 1970s television series The Secrets of Isis, which was a sister series to the Shazam! TV show.
- Amon has good taste in comics! When his backpack is opened up we could see 2016’s Wonder Woman #1, Batman: Odyssey #1 and 2016’s Cyborg #4.
- Amanda Waller is everywhere! (But you knew that.) While her screentime is brief, it’s always a rush to see Viola Davis in the no-nonsense role. This is her fourth DC project in which she appears as Waller after 2016’s Suicide Squad, 2021’s The Suicide Squad and 2022’s Peacemaker.
- When Maxine Hunkel/Cyclone enters Carter Hall’s home, the display screen on the gate mentions her grandmother Abigail Hunkel, the Red Tornado (seen above). Abigail, who is commonly referred to as Ma Hunkel, was originally a supporting character in a feature called Scribbly the Boy Cartoonist that appeared in All-American Comics. Ma was introduced in All-American Comics #2, but everything changed in All-American Comics #20 when she became the Red Tornado for the first time.
- Henry Winkler has a surprise appearance as Al Pratt, the original Atom. Al Pratt first appeared in All-American Comics #19 and went on to become a founding member of the Justice Society. In the comics, he’s Atom Smasher’s godfather, but in the movie he’s his uncle.
- Did you spot the wedding ring on Kent Nelson’s hand? This seems to be the film’s way of acknowledging Inza Nelson, the late wife of Doctor Fate.
- Carter Hall’s mansion is in St. Roch, Louisiana, a fictional city that was first seen in 2002’s Hawkman #1.
- Hawkman tells his teammates that his ship is made out of Nth metal, a material that has deep ties to his comic book counterpart. Originally, Nth metal was a compound that gave archeologist Carter Hall the power of flight, but later stories expanded on the mythology, establishing that Nth metal came from the planet Thanagar. For more on the evolution of Hawkman and Nth metal, check out this explainer from my friend Alex Jaffe.
- Why does Amon have the bedroom I wish I had as a child? His room is decorated with so many DC posters, many of them taken from iconic comic book covers. Among others, I spotted Superman from the last page of 2011’s Justice League #1.
- The twist revealing that Teth-Adam received his powers after his son Hurut passes them on seems to be partially based on the origin story seen in Shazam!: Origins with Adam’s nephew Aman, with a few key differences.
- Maxine tells the story about how a “messed up scientist” injected nanobots into her when she was 15. She’s referring to her origin from the comics, which was first revealed in 2006’s Justice Society of America #1. And the scientist in question was T.O. Morrow.
- Task Force X has bases everywhere. Some of them, as we discover, are even underwater. The first time we saw Waller operating out of an underwater base was in the 2016 Suicide Squad comic series.
- Yes, that was Jennifer Holland as Emilia Harcourt greeting the Justice Society at the Task Force X base. Harcourt was previously seen in The Suicide Squad and HBO Max’s Peacemaker (above). It’s good to know that she’s recovered from her battle against the Butterflies (and all of her time with Peacemaker).
- The Rock of Finality can be considered an evil version of the Rock of Eternity. It can be seen in 2009’s Justice Society of America #25.
- Sabbac is a Shazam villain dating back to 1943’s Captain Marvel Jr. #4. However, the Sabbac seen in the Black Adam film seems to be based off of the Ishmael Gregor version of the character, who was introduced in 2003’s Outsiders #8.
- The shot of Black Adam sitting on the throne is a nod to the iconic 52 #45 cover—one of the most well-known comic book images of Adam out there. Unlike in the movie, Adam’s comic counterpart didn’t smash the throne afterwards, although the comic is filled with pages of him smashing various other things—and people.
- So, news of the “surprise” cameo was pretty much confirmed prior to the movie’s release, but Henry Cavill is back as Superman and he’s ready to keep Black Adam in check! In case you’re curious, Superman and Black Adam fought for the first time in 1978’s All-New Collectors’ Edition #58.
That’s all the Easter eggs I caught watching Black Adam. Did you catch any that I missed? Feel free to reach out to me and let me know. It will give me a great excuse to watch the movie again…not that I need one!
Black Adam, starring Dwayne Johnson and directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, is now playing in a theater near you. To buy tickets and catch up on all the latest news, features and trailers from the film, visit our official Black Adam hub.
Joshua Lapin-Bertone writes about TV, movies and comics for DC.com, is a regular contributor to the Couch Club and writes our monthly Batman column, "Gotham Gazette." Follow him on Twitter at @TBUJosh.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Joshua Lapin-Bertone and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.