The hierarchy of power in the DC Universe may be about to change with ‘Black Adam’, but the Dwayne Johnson star vehicle is landing low on the hierarchy of critical reputation among the decade’s superhero releases of Warner Bros., reports ‘Variety’.
‘Black Adam’, as of Tuesday afternoon (U.S. Pacific Time), stands at a 32 per cent approval rating from the top critics on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Among the website’s broader group of approved critics, it is higher at 54 per cent.
Should the top critics number stand, according to ‘Variety’, it would mark the lowest such figure for a DC film since 2017’s ‘Justice League’, which netted a 23 per cent approval rating from top critics and was so reviled among fans that Warner Bros. had to order a reworked version, which arrived in the form of ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ in 2021.
In a somewhat favourable review for ‘Variety’, the publication’s chief film critic Peter Debruge conceded that “the film’s whole purpose is to give Black Adam a suitably grand introduction on the assumption that he’ll be pitted against a more deserving adversary soon enough.”
Most others have been less receptive to the origin story, though many have highlighted Johnson’s performance as a key strength. ‘Black Adam’ marks the star’s first time anchoring a superhero film — a job that the actor’s chiseled physique and commercial dominance would suggest was inevitable.
In a slightly positive review, notes ‘Variety’, Peter Bradshaw of ‘The Guardian’ said that Johnson’s “massive bulk, planet-sized head and sly gift for deadpan humour all make him a great superhero.”
Writing for ‘The Hollywood Reporter’, critic John Defore discussed the star’s long attachment to ‘Black Adam’, writing that “his passion project serves the character well, setting him up for adventures one hopes will be less predictable than this one.”
‘Rolling Stone’ senior editor and film critic David Fear emphasised that “not even the pleasure of watching Johnson enter into a blockbuster template he seemed destined to dominate can make up for how generic, flavourless and incoherent this is.”