If recent reports are to be believed, Hollywood's current golden boy, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, will be making an appearance as Black Adam in the forthcoming Suicide Squad 2 - and that could be just the kick the sequel to the divisive DCEU film needs. Unusually, Johnson was attached to DC's Shazam! long before the movie cast its titular star (now confirmed to be Zachary Levi), although perhaps even stranger was that the project marks the former wrestler's first real foray into comic book movies, as well as a rare recent turn in a more villainous role. Weirder still, it was confirmed earlier this year that Black Adam would not be appearing in Shazam! after all, and would instead be saved for a solo venture.
Like most comic book characters, Black Adam's origin story has morphed over time, but the figure is often presented the arch-nemesis of Shazam and frequently walks the line between outright villain and anti-hero. His powers and appearance are similar to that of Shazam's, with the character originally portrayed as an Egyptian predecessor to the godlike hero.
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How does he work into Task Force X's adventures? The original Suicide Squad movie saw a ragtag bunch of incarcerated evil-doers reluctantly brought together as a last-resort against extreme threats. Although the release was undoubtedly a financial success, the critical reaction was far more scathing. Could the inclusion of Hollywood's most profitable actor be the missing ingredient that will lead Suicide Squad 2 to success across the board and silence the doubters?
What Exactly Went Wrong With The Original Suicide Squad?
Arguably, the most overriding criticism of Suicide Squad was its dominatingly style-over-substance approach that resulted in the finished product mimicking but ultimately failing to live up to a fantastic trailer and clever marketing campaign. It boasted an A-list cast, an on-trend soundtrack and a classy visual style yet many fans felt shortchanged once the end credits began to roll.
For starters, the film's plot was accused of being thin, formulaic and often muddled in its logic. Many of the characters also came in for criticism, with the Squad's lesser-known members being sidelined in favor of the movie's bigger stars, leaving the likes of Diablo and Rick Flagg noticeably two-dimensional. Reviews were also not fond of Suicide Squad's flat third act, with the CGI-heavy climax a particular issue and the inclusion of Jared Leto's Joker acting largely as a sideshow to the main plot.
Another huge issue arose out of Suicide Squad's central antagonist, Cara Delevingne's Enchantress. While June Moone was designed to draw sympathy from the audience, the character was so under-developed that when the archaeologist was taken over by the Enchantress proper, there was no connection and just an elusive threat. This antagonist problem was exacerbated by the empty inclusion of Enchantress' brother Incubus, who distracted screen-time for no real purpose.
Neither Enchantress nor Joker (who was restricted to a glorified cameo), were an effective counter to the unique anti-hero nature of the actual Squad in the original film; some members of the Task Force felt too heroic (looking at you, Deadshot), and those who remained bad never quite registered due to a lack of contrast.
What Does The Rock Offer To Suicide Squad?
Evidently, then, Suicide Squad 2 has plenty of work to do to turn dissenters around, arguably too much for one actor or character to shoulder alone, but there's no doubt that the presence of Black Adam could greatly improve the sequel's chances - albeit only if used correctly.
Put simply, Suicide Squad had a distinct lack of likable characters. Margot Robbie's performance may have ensured Halloween 2016 was the year of Harley Quinn but other than that, the cast of anti-heroes on offer were, sadly, mostly forgettable. Enter Black Adam. Even The Rock's most vocal detractors couldn't accuse the man of lacking charisma and if Suicide Squad 2 needs an injection of charm and warmth, they need look no further than Dwayne Johnson, even if he does end up playing a bad guy.
In fact, playing a bad guy may be why he is the cure...
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