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Does ‘Black Adam’ take place in modern times?

When does the bulk of the action in 'Black Adam' take place?

Photo via Warner Bros. Pictures

Warning: The article contains spoilers for Black Adam.

Black Adam is thunder-bolting into theaters this week, but some fans may want to know when the movie takes place — is it set in modern times or at some point in the past?

Spoilers ahead.

From the initial glimpses of the film, we got from Black Adam‘s trailers, the timeline of when the story takes place has been quite nebulous. There were scenes that seemed to take place in ancient times with other moments that featured jets and SWAT teams. What’s more, the Justice Society of America — a WWII-era comic book superhero team that Dwayne Johnson has not hesitated to remind the world predates the Justice League — is also featured heavily in the movie. The JSA’s costumes are also quite comics-accurate, for the most part, making them sport a relatively retro look compared to modern heroes. All of this makes us wonder: When does the bulk of the action in Black Adam take place?

In the comic books, the JSA was formed by American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to help thwart Adolph Hitler and aid the allies in the war. Given that the DC Extended Universe already has a superhero team, i.e., the Justice League, taking care of things in modern times, does that mean Black Adam is actually a prequel like Wonder Woman or Captain America: The First Avenger?

The ancient origins of Black Adam

Now that Black Adam is actually in theaters, we’re finally getting some answers to these pressing questions. The film features a prologue showing the audience how Johnson’s Black Adam got his powers in the first place. This all takes place 5,000 years ago in the fictional North African country of Kahndaq. It is there that a young boy leads a revolt against an oppressive king. The boy is later granted the power of Shazam but ends up killing his oppressors with his newly found abilities.

After this portion of the movie concludes, the story jumps to the modern day where Black Adam is resurrected following his centuries-long slumber. It is in modern times when Kahndaq is subjected to a new regime of oppressors — Intergang — where the enraged Black Adam once again wreaks havoc against his enemies and most of the movie takes place. Thus, it is established that the JSA — including Pierce Brosnan’s Doctor Fate, Noah Centineo’s Atom Smasher, Quintessa Swindell’s Cyclone, and Aldis Hodge’s Hawkman — exists in the modern DCEU timeline, presumably co-existing alongside the Justice League.

If you want to know how the story unfolds from there, we won’t spoil it any further for you. Check out Black Adam at a theater near you on Oct. 21.

Danny Peterson
About the author

Danny Peterson

Danny Peterson covers entertainment news for WGTC and has previously enjoyed writing about housing, homelessness, the coronavirus pandemic, historic 2020 Oregon wildfires, and racial justice protests. Originally from Juneau, Alaska, Danny received his Bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Alaska Southeast and a Master's in Multimedia Journalism from the University of Oregon. He has written for The Portland Observer, worked as a digital enterprise reporter at KOIN 6 News, and is the co-producer of the award-winning documentary 'Escape from Eagle Creek.'