we should have a talk

Black Adam’s Mid-Credits Scene Flies Up, Up, and Away

Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

Cue the John Williams music. The hierarchy of the DC Extended Universe has changed and Superman has returned! Black Adam’s worst-kept secret still manages to be one of its biggest delights: Henry Cavill returns as Superman. Cavill’s position in the DCEU has long been up in the air since the theatrical release of Justice League in 2017, amid a number of executive shifts over at Warner Bros. and several plans to reboot Superman. Cavill fans can breathe a sigh of relief as Black Adam sets up an inevitable showdown between The Last Son of Krypton and The Man in Black.

After defeating Sabaac (Marwan Kenzari), Black Adam (Dwayne Johnson) decides not to rule Kahndaq as its king but to serve it as its protector instead. Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) informs him that he may have escaped her prison, but if he crosses the border, she’ll send in the big guns to stop him. Black Adam challenges her and tells her there’s no one on this planet who can stop him. She’s not talking about someone from this planet, she retorts. Black Adam calls her bluff, daring her to “call them all.” But she only needs to call one. Superman descends from the sky, shrouded in fog as John Williams’ iconic score begins to stir. For a moment, it seems like it’ll be another fake out, or a gag like the headless Superman in Shazam! But hey, it’s really him, complete with his classic curl and a shiny new costume. “We should have a talk,” Superman says.

A showdown with Superman has been high on Johnson’s list for years. What’s interesting is that Johnson has somehow managed to successfully shift Black Adam from a Shazam adversary to a Superman one. His character was originally set to be the villain in Shazam!, which Johnson also produced. But the actor believed the character was worthy of his own film as an anti-hero. While a face-off between Black Adam and Shazam is still on the table somewhere down the line, Johnson is angling for Black Adam to be an A-list character, which means pitting him against the most famous superhero in the world. Johnson is, in fact, so committed to this idea that he even established a rivalry between the two characters in the post-credits scene of the animated DC’s League of Super-Pets.

Not that Superman and Black Adam haven’t come to blows in the comics before. They have, though usually only in Elseworlds tales or with multiversal versions of the characters. (Action Comics #831 (2005) by Gail Simone and John Byrne features the two super-beings’ most destructive and notable encounter.) Superman already has an incredible range of villains in his rogue’s gallery, including Lex Luthor, Zod, Mongul, Brainiac, Mr. Mxyzptlk, Metallo, Parasite, Darkseid, who all test him in different ways. But given that one of Superman’s only weaknesses is magic, he’s yet to have a significant and reoccurring magic-based adversary. Black Adam is about to change that.

Johnson has alluded to big plans for Black Adam, and probably isn’t looking to do a plain ol’ Black Adam vs. Superman movie. He seems to have something more ambitious in mind. If I had my guess, he’s looking to engineer an international incident that will pit two of DC’s most iconic teams against each other: that is, a battle between the Justice League and the Justice Society. Johnson has referred to Black Adam as the start of Phase One in the DCEU’s revitalized plans. In terms of significance, that would make Superman meeting Black Adam the equivalent of Nick Fury telling Tony Stark about the Avengers Initiative. Black Adam, an anti-hero that few beyond DC Comics fans were familiar with until now, is about to become central to setting up the next big theatrical DC event film. If Johnson pulls it off, the whole world will come to know the name Black Adam.

Black Adam’s Mid-Credits Scene Flies Up, Up, and Away